Holiday Shopping Tips: Happy Kids and Healthy Brains

Holiday shopping is once again upon us—as your kids make their lists and write their letters to Santa, could the type of gifts they receive affect their brain development, not to mention how home life will be for everyone in the months ahead?

“Yes”, says Dr. Marcia Slattery, UW Health Professor of Child/Adolescent Psychiatry and Pediatrics. “A child’s brain goes through massive developmental changes throughout childhood and adolescence, and the type and variety of experiences a child has can influence the pathways and connections in the brain”.

Parents should keep this in mind as they set out on the challenge of holiday shopping for their children. The goal: selecting gifts that are fun, enjoyable AND promote healthy brain development.

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More than “No means No” and “Yes means Yes”: A Deeper Look into Consent

Stop what you’re doing right now and go listen to Radio Lab’s recent 3 part series “In the No” (here’s the link to episode 1. Beware, strong language and some graphic detail about sex).  Not often does something leave me speechless. This did. I still am thinking about this weeks after hearing it for the first time. Some aspects made my skin crawl. Some aspects made me question everything I thought I knew about consent.

The year 2017 gave rise to a powerful new movement, the “#metoo” movement. Decades of sexual harassment, abuse, trauma and exploitation are being uncovered and a global reckoning has emerged.  It is a thrilling and important cultural revolution that we are witnessing—the discussions and consequences surrounding sexual harassment and abuse of power have been long overdue. In the midst of stories of sexual violence allegedly (as few have gone through judicial system other than the court of public opinion) perpetrated by high profile public figures (Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and Kevin Spacey to name a few), there have also been a few stories profiled in popular media which blur the lines between sexual assault and poor communication regarding consent.

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Deck the Halls Safely This Season

Decorating the tree

ss_41887228_decorating_christmas_treeThe holidays are a time for spending with family and friends, not rushing to the emergency room. Whether you’re preparing to decorate your own home, or going to visit relatives or friends, keep the following tips in mind to help everyone have a merry and safe holiday.

If you decorate a tree, avoid these top decorating mistakes:

  • Decorate with children in mind. Do not put ornaments that have small parts or metal hooks, or look like food or candy, on the lower branches where small children can reach them.
  • Keep the glass ornaments off the tree until children are older as they can be easily broken.

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Traveling Safely Over the Holidays

As families get ready to embark on holiday trips to visit relatives and loved ones, it’s a good time to review a few safety tips.

When Traveling by Car

Always use the appropriate car seat for infants and young children when riding in the vehicle:

  • Infants should ride rear-facing for as long as their car seat allows, usually to about age 2 and 35 pounds. Riding rear-facing protects your child’s head, neck and spine.
  • When children are ready to transition to a forward-facing seat, children should ride in a forward-facing seat with a 5-point harness for as long as possible, until they are at least 4 and 40 lbs. Consider using a harnessed booster to keep your child in a 5-point harness even longer.

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Michael and “Shakey” Make Great Partners in the Fight Against Cystic Fibrosis

When she learned that her son had cystic fibrosis, mom didn’t know much about the disease. Today, the Jones family advocates for finding a cure. 

Traci Jones vividly recalls the 9 a.m. phone call from her pediatrician’s office just nine days after her third child, Michael, was born in 2014.

“We have Michael’s newborn screening results,” said the clinician. “We need to see you at 12:30 this afternoon.”

Accompanied by her mother, a nurse, Traci recalls very little from the 40-minute visit with her pediatrician.

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