Toy Safety

The classic holiday movie A Christmas Story depicts young Ralphie’s hilarious obsession with obtaining a Red Rider BB gun despite his mother’s warnings that he’ll “shoot his eye out.” Unfortunately, moms worry for good reason — thousands of children age 14 and younger suffer eye injuries each year from toys, according to Prevent Blindness America. So heed these guidelines:

Confirm the toy is age appropriate

Read all labels and instructions

Show children how to use toys safely

Supervise them when they play

Purchase a small parts tester to determine any potential choking hazard

Avoid toys with sharp edges

Make sure toys with projectiles — such as darts or arrows — have soft tips or suction cups

Be wary of toys with strings or chords that could present strangulation hazards

Examine each toy thoroughly

Discard broken toys

Check that toys with fabric are labeled flame resistant or flame retardant

Verify painted toys use lead–free paint

Have children wear helmets when riding motorized scooters, bicycles, and skateboards and operate them only in designated safe areas

Teach children where to safely store toys

Stay updated on the latest recalls.

Halloween Havoc

The season of jack–o’–lanterns, bonfires, haunted houses, and horror films are upon us. While spooky pranks and sacks of candy come with the territory, avoid a truly scary story with these safety tips:

  • Make sure costumes are labeled as flame resistant
  • Improve visibility with reflective tape, brightly colored costumes, and flashlights
  • Keep children’s masks loose fitting around the eyes, mouth, and nose
  • Be sure toy swords and knives are made of soft, flexible material
  • Accompany children and make sure they remain on sidewalks
  • Approach only houses with outdoor lights on
  • Do not allow children to enter homes
  • Remove potential hazards from your yard/walkway that could cause falls
  • Inspect all children’s candy before they eat it
  • Keep pumpkins with candles away from areas and materials that could ignite
  • Make sure each group of children is small enough that 1 adult can safely supervise
  • Use extra precautions when driving — go slowly through neighborhoods and look out for children running across lawns and streets
  • Don’t forget about your pets — keep them away from candy, pumpkins, decorations, electrical wires, and trick or treaters — too many ghosts and goblins can be stressful for even the friendliest Fidos.

Take a Kid Fishing

Fishing is a terrific way to relax in the great outdoors with friends and family. From fly fishing and ice fishing to simply fishing off the dock, you can reel in a catch that suits your interests and location.

New to fishing? Here are some basics you’ll need to get started:

License. Inquire at your local grocery or sporting goods store for a fishing permit or license. Children usually don’t need them, but adults who fish must have them or face big fines.

Pole and line. The type of pole you’ll need will depend on the type of fishing you’re planning to do. Fly fishing poles differ from freshwater fishing poles, for example. Start with a fishing line that will hold 8–10 pounds.

Hook and bait. The type of hook depends on what you’re fishing for — use a smaller hook to hold salmon eggs for trout and longer hooks for catching bass or catfish with worms.

For more details on fishing tackle and techniques, check out the State of Texas Take Me Fishing guide.

Step-by-Step Approach for Bed Wetters

By Dr. Bill Sears

AROUND 15 PERCENT of 5-year-olds still wet their beds, and boys outnumber girls four to one. As a pediatrician for more than 40 years, I want to dispel the myth that bed-wetting is a psychological or discipline problem.

Instead, it’s really a sleep quirk. It’s physiologically more correct to call this nighttime nuisance “sleep wetting.” Some kids sleep too soundly to respond to the get-up-and-go signals from their bladder. Here is a step-by-step approach that we’ve used in our family and in my pediatric practice.

Play show and tell. In my of office I draw a picture of the brain with “wires” connected to the bladder, explaining to the child, “Your bladder is like a balloon the size of a baseball. Inside the balloon are tiny nerves that tell you when your bladder is full. Your full bladder then sends messages to your brain, and the brain tells you to go pee. Because you sleep so deeply, the brain sort of says, ‘Don’t bother me. I’m sleeping.’ Yet, your bladder becomes so full it’s got to empty, so you pee in your bed. Here’s how we’re going to help your brain and your bladder listen to each other at night.”

Empty the bladder completely before going to bed. Many bed-wetters who are tired or in a hurry only dribble out a bit when they go to the bathroom before going to bed, so they go to sleep with a half-full bladder. Teach your child “triple voiding”: “To squeeze all the pee out of your bladder, grunt, grunt, grunt three times so you go to bed with an empty bladder.”

Have a bladder-programming talk. Be a bladder-training coach: As your child is dozing off to sleep, imprint on his mind what he will do when he feels a full bladder: “I will get up and go to the bathroom when I feel my bladder get big. I will splash water on my face to wake up, and grunt three times.” This bedtime rehearsal programs your child to help his bladder and brain cooperate at night.

Shake and wake before you retire. Since most children bed-wet within a few hours after retiring, before you go to bed, fully awaken your child and help him walk to the bathroom and again “grunt three times” to completely empty his bladder. Then help the sleepy child get back to bed.

Get things moving. Since constipation is a frequently overlooked cause of bed-wetting, give your child a tasty laxative: a fruit and yogurt smoothie with a tablespoon of flax oil.

Give high-tech help for the persistent bed-wetter. If your child is becoming increasingly wet and bothered, try a pad-and-buzzer apparatus called a bladder-conditioning device. When a drop of urine strikes the moisture-sensitive pad, it sets off a buzzer that’s attached to the child’s T-shirt or pajama top. Explain this to your child as the “beat the buzzer” game. Encourage him to get up and go to the bathroom before the buzzer sounds.

In my pediatric practice experience, more than 90 percent of bed-wetters become dry after trying these strategies. A patient of mine thanked me, “Dr. Bill, being dry makes me feel so happy. Now I can stay overnight at a friend’s house without feeling embarrassed.”

Source: CostcoConnection

Ten Ways to Wreck A Child’s Immune System

First, we’ll look at what not to do. There are sure-fire ways to damage the effectiveness of the immune system. If you see any of your habits on this list, consider changing your ways for the health of your family.

  1. Smoke near them.
  2. Demonstrate how you can drink liberal quantities of alcohol, and let your kids drink plenty of soda pop until they are old enough for beer and booze.
  3. Eat all the junk foods advertised on TV, especially lots of meat and sugar, and foods with chemical colors, flavors, and preservatives.
  4. Never exercise.
  5. Worry constantly. Just turn on TV news programs to help you accomplish this.
  6. Take powerful antibiotics preventively.
  7. Count on your daily diet for all the vitamins and minerals that your body really needs.
  8. Make excuses to not read How to Live Longer and Feel Better by Linus Pauling.
  9. Stay up late, and let the kids do so as well.
  10. Regularly use a wide variety of over-the-counter drugs.

Immune system boosters

A healthy immune system is built every day by your lifestyle choices, especially your nutritional choices.

Immune Booster #1 Vitamin C

Take lots of vitamin C to help defend yourself against viruses and bacteria. For children, age-appropriate forms include vitamin C powder in juice (1,000mg is a quarter-teaspoonful) or a couple of citrus-flavored 500-mg chewtabs (very tasty).

Immune Booster #2 Sleep

Conquer chronic tiredness. Get to bed earlier. Set the video recorder and watch that TV show tomorrow. You can get a more satisfying night’s sleep by darkening your room: the darker your sleeping environment, the more melatonin (the sleep hormone) you make. Having a regular sleep pattern is very helpful. Homework and recreation times may need adjustment. Deep sleep is associated with the normal release of growth hormone in children.

Immune Booster #3: Research Natural Therapies

Strengthen your resolve reading scientific studies on the antitoxic, antibiotic, and antiviral properties of megadoses of vitamin C.

Immune Booster #4: Multivitamin

Take a good multivitamin every day. The placebo-controlled research has shown people who take supplements have “higher numbers of certain T-cell subsets and natural killer cells, increased interleukin-2 production, and higher antibody response and natural killer cell activity”. The result? Vitamin-takers were sick only half as many days per year as those who did not take supplements or vitamins. Yet most Americas do not meet even the minimum standards for dietary adequacy.

Immune Booster #5: Vitamin E

Take supplemental vitamin E. Placebo-controlled, double-blind trials have shown that 800 IU of vitamin E per day can improve immune responsiveness and immunocompetence. Plus, the response was seen in only thirty days. A dose of 400 IU is probably enough for children up to adolescent age. For the little ones, open up the ends of a capsule and squeeze the contents into a bit of their favorite fruit juice. Be sure the preparation is naturla or d-alpha tocopherol, which is much more effective than the synthetic dl-alpha tocopherol. Better yet, if it’s not too expensive, look for natural mixed tocopherols at your health food store.

Immune Booster # 6: Carotenes

Drink lots of vegetable juices, and here are some reasons why. Carotenes, the pigments that give fruits and vegetables orange colors, have been specifically shown in high doses to strengthen the immune system by helping the body to build more helper T cells. The amount used in one well-controlled study was 180 mg of beta-carotene per day. This is, theoretically at least, the equivalent of 300,000 IU of vitamin A per day (6 mg of beta-carotene can be converted into 10,000 IU of vitamin A in the body). That amount, consumed as the oil or retinol form of vitamin A, would likely be toxic, but as carotene it is not. There is indeed a big difference betwene forms. Also, the study produced positive results in a mere two weeks. Even people with the weakest of immune systems, such as AIDS patients, can benefit from huge carotene dosages.

Some have claimed that excess carotene consumption is dangerous. Excess carotene causes the skin to turn slightly orange (hyper-carotenosis), once succinctly described as resembling an artificial suntan. Hypercarotenemia refers to elevated blood levels of carotene. Both hypercarotenosis and hypercarotenemia are harmless. Excess intake of carotene does not cause hypervitaminosis A.

Immune Booster # 7: Stop Smoking

What is the greatest preventable danger to the greatest number of people? The answer is, smoking. In the U.S. alone, tobacco kills fifty-one people an hour. Of course, the tobacco industry spends over $11 million every day on advertising to encourage this. Don’t fall for it: research suggests that less smoking around children means fewer ear infections.

A naturally strong immune system effectively resists disease. If it didn’t, we would be extinct. Take the steps above to heart and we have a special advantage in addition to our opposable thumbs: we can substantially strengthen our immune systems, right now, and without prescription.

Making the Switch to a Healthier Diet For Your Child


It is a major undertaking to switch form a typical diet, heavily weighted in processed food and drink, to a whole-foods diet. First of all, be completely convinced that it is the right thing to do and that it has to be done, then the whole family can inspire one another. If you have friends who eat healthy, let them help.

A good place to start is with breakfast. Try a multi-grained hot cereal to replace the dry cereal in a box. This change requires a bit more preparation time and a show of love and concern as you chip away at old habits and acquire new ones. The new cereal has a different (probably less sugary) flavor and texture, but it has a good chance of actually tasting better. You might need to make a more gradual transition by starting with as natural a dry cereal as you can find, one free of sugar, chemicals, and artificial coloring. Breakfast should be a “stick-to-the-ribs” meal: eggs, yogurt, and even a “little” meat will supply the protein and fat that makes the meal more sustaining. Fruit, as long as it is taken with these foods, also goes well.

Successfully introducing strange new foods requires creativity. Vegetables may have been rejected in the pat due to the practice of overcooking, rendering them unattractive, tasteless, and with fiber content providing the only speck of nutritional value. Learn to barely cook (steam) them. Salads are a wonderful way to enjoy raw vegetables. Some leftover cooked vegetables can be added, and several fruits blend nicely with greens. Markets often carry convenient packages of organic salad greens. A good salad dressing (read the label to make sure it is junk free) applied in small amounts is not prohibitive. When new habits are better established, think of creative ways of presenting more raw vegetables, such as “as is” or run through a juicer. The opportunities for more fruit intake are easier – as snack material, with regular meals, or blended with yogurt as a “smoothie”. When shopping for vegetables and fruits, a simple rule applies: deep, rich colors are correlated with a good content of phyto-antioxidants.

If availability or cost discourages you from purchasing organic foods, settle for next best. Look for produce that is fresh and harvested when ripe (even vegetables picked when they are “nature ready”). you can eliminate pesticide residues by peeling vegetables and fruits, and reduce residues by thoroughly washing leafy greens and other vegetables with a dilute soap solution (followed by rinsing, of course). When home gardens are dormant in winter, there is a paucity of fresh produce in home (otherwise) “super” markets: broccoli, root vegetables, a short period of availability of winter squash, and organic “greens”. If this is the case, frozen vegetables and fruits might be the only viable option. At least they have been processed only after they achieve ripeness, with far less heat than is used in canning or bottling.

Strive to take meat out of its status as the star of the meal; reduce it to “best supporting actor” in a subordinate capacity. Organic meat is more costly, but the cost can easily be offset – just eat less of it. Whole-grain pasta should replace nutrient-poor regular pasta (expect a taste treat). The same goes for whole-grain breads and rice; they are both very tasty and infinitely better for you.

When we attempt to get in shape, we don’t start out by running a marathon, but we do have to start. If your diet patterns need a complete turnabout, begin the gradual learning process. There is more to eating than taking in nutrients. Meals are a great time to have family conversation around the table: conversation slows the mechanical process of eating, which may induce weight loss by helping you reflect more on what you are eating as opposed to simply bolting down food without enjoyment. It is a good time for finding out what is going o in your children’s lives.