I think it’s safe to say that kids, in general, know they need to wash their hands when they’re dirty. When my kids were young, they learned a few techniques for washing their hands. They would sing Happy Birthday twice or the ABC Song. It’s pretty simple to explain to our kids why they need to wash their hands if they’re dirty. Just like we wash our dirty laundry and dirty dishes – we also need to wash our hands when they’re dirty.
But what about when their hands aren’t visibly dirty? Like, after coughing into their hands or touching a surface that may have germs. How do we explain the need to still wash our hands regularly to avoid germ spreading to young children?
If they can’t visibly see that their hands are dirty, it can be hard for them to understand the need for thorough hand washing. ⠀
Here are two simple tricks to teach your kids how germs are transmitted:
Do an experiment or show your kids a video that demonstrates how easily germs can travel.
Here are some great resources to help with this:
How Far a Sneeze Can Travel Video by Science Insider
Germ Experiment – How Do Germs Spread by Home Science Tools
Why Washing Your Hands Stops the Spread of Germs Video by Kelly Rose Sarno
Help your kids to identify high risk germ sources in their daily environment.
Here are some great resources to help with this:
The Germiest Places at School by NSF International
9 Places Germs Hide in Your Home by Readers Digest
While knowing how and why germ spreading happens, hand washing is – hands down – the most valuable action we can take to prevent the spread of germs.
Here are some fun activities to do with your kids that will teach them just how important washing their hands is in preventing germ spreading. ⠀
The Spray Trick:
Grab a water spray bottle and fill it with water. Get some paper and line it on a table or counter top. Pretend to sneeze or cough and at the same time, spray some water to mimic what actually comes out of your mouth/nose if you don’t cover your mouth.⠀⠀
Now, do the same thing but this time, cough and spray the water directly into your hand or elbow crease as if you had covered your mouth/nose while coughing/sneezing.
Compare how much of the water was caught in the hand or elbow fold and how much landed on the paper. Have your children note how many less germs were spread by covering when coughing/sneezing.
Also, have them look at the “germs” caught in their hand and encourage them to thoroughly wash their hands post cough/sneeze. ⠀
By having them see this in action, they are more likely to be aware of it the next time they cough or sneeze.⠀⠀
Touch and Tag:
Ask your children how many objects or places around the house they touch every single day. Remind them of how easy it is to leave germs on these surfaces each day as they touch them.
Go around your house and tag or mark each of these areas with a label or sticky note to remind your child that they’ve just touched a high risk germ source. Encourage them to wash their hands after coming in contact with high germ sources in your house and at their school. ⠀
When we role play germ spreading, I pretend to be one of my kids and do exactly what I have witnessed them doing (or not doing). I have the kids role play as the adults and instruct me of what I should be doing to reduce the spread of germs.⠀⠀
- First, I role play what my kids do or don’t do after blowing their noses.
- Next, I role play touching loads of surfaces around the house and then NOT washing my hands.
- Then, I role play washing my hands too quickly, not thoroughly enough, or without soap.
- Finally, I role play coughing and sneezing without covering my nose or mouth⠀⠀
I then ask my kids what was wrong with my actions and how they, as adults, would correct my behaviors. My kids love getting to be the adult and telling me what I’ve done wrong!⠀⠀
I hope this helps a bit as a way to teach your kids how important it is to prevent the spread of germs. I’d love to hear the creative ways you teach your kids about germs spreading. Leave me a comment with your best tips and tricks.
To learn more about germs spreading and other common kid emergencies like fevers, heat exhaustion, fractures, and constipation, download our free eBook, Mom’s Little Handbook to Common Kid Emergencies.
It’s a chilly winter evening and you’re in the kitchen preparing dinner. You realize your little one has been a bit too quiet. You take a peek and he’s lying on the couch a tad more tired than usual. He’s definitely not acting himself so you put your wrist to his forehead. Your little one has spiked a fever and you start to panic. Do you bring him in? Do you wait it out at home?
I’ll bet this scenario sounds familiar to most moms. The thing is, if you take the steps to educate and prepare yourself for that inevitable fever, you’ll be far less likely to panic and overreact when it hits.
Here’s our guide to all the facts a well prepared mom needs to know about fevers.
What exactly is a fever?
A fever is an elevated temperature over what is considered standard. A standard human body temperature is 98.6F. An elevated temperature is typically the result of a viral or bacterial infection. As the body attempts to fight off the attack, body temperature rises.
Though fevers are scary, they are also a sign that our bodies are working properly to protect us.
Why do children get fevers?
Since a fever is, essentially, a symptom of a larger issue, there is no simple answer as to why your child might have a fever. Fever is a sign that the body is fighting an infection. You may already be aware of the infection, what it is, and where it came from – but you might not.
Kids can pick up infections almost anywhere. In the winter, during the school months, and during flu season, it becomes even more likely. Think – stomach bugs and respiratory virus galore. Unfortunately, kids aren’t as conscious of covering their mouth when they sneeze or cough or even washing their hands. So it’s very easy for a child to get the “bugs” by being coughed on or by touching a common surface area like door knobs without even realizing it.
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), it’s also not uncommon for a child to spike a fever after receiving an immunization. This is simply a sign that the immune system is strong and functioning properly.
Symptoms of a Fever
Since a fever is an elevated body temperature, the very first symptoms or complaints from your little one will likely be chills and body aches. The most common symptoms are changes in appetite, mood, or behavior and activity level. And of course, an elevated body temperature.
What is the best way to measure if your child has a fever?
There are multiple different ways to measure your child’s temperature and some are more accurate than others. The biggest factor will be your child’s age. This will determine what the best type of thermometer to use will be. Temperature can be measured rectally, by ear, temporally, orally or axillary (armpit).
The Mayo Clinic offers the following thermometer recommendations based on your child’s age.
- Birth to 3 months. Use a digital thermometer rectally or temporally.
- 3 months to 4 years. Use a digital thermometer to take a rectal, axillary or temporal temperature reading.
- 4 years and older. Use a digital thermometer to get an oral, axillary, or temporal temperature reading.
The key is – whatever method you choose, you must remain consistent. Switching thermometer types and comparing different methods each time you take your child’s temperature will only get confusing. To get acquainted with your child’s normal temperature range you’ll need to use the same type of thermometer every time.
At Home Care
Fevers and their accompanying symptoms can be very scary for moms, especially in very young children. Often times, parents choose to treat the fever too soon. If your child can handle the discomfort, give them some extra love and cuddles, but let their little body do what it was designed to do.
If you would like to take steps to mitigate the fever at home, here’s what I suggest:
- You can give your child a common fever reducer like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Be sure to check the dosage instructions based on your child’s age and weight.
- Change them into light-weight clothing.
- Wrap them in a thin blanket
- Make sure they stay hydrated by providing plenty of fluids.
When to Head to the Doctor
It’s so important to know when to contact your child’s physician or seek medical assistance.
These are general temperature guidelines for a high fever, by age:
- Younger than 3 months: 100.4F (38C)
- 3 month to 3 years: 102.2F (39C)
- 3 years and older: 104F (40C)
To learn more about fevers and make sure you’re prepared for other common kid emergencies like heat exhaustion, fractures, and constipation – download our free eBook, Mom’s Little Handbook to Common Kid Emergencies.
The information presented here is meant only for informational purposes. It is not meant to diagnose, treat or provide health advice. Anything you read here should not substitute assistance from a medical doctor.
Although summer is coming to an end, let’s face it, our kids are going to be as active as possible during the fall and winter months.
A lot of people seem to be of the opinion that spring and summer are the only times you have to worry about ticks. The reality is that many species of ticks stay alive and somewhat active even into the fall and winter (as long as the temperatures manage to stay above freezing).
Because of this, it’s important to keep an eye on your kids (and pets) to make sure they stay tick-free. If you do find one of the little bugs on you or a loved one, there’s a proper way to remove it quickly. You don’t want to develop Lyme Disease or end up with an infection.
The first thing you need to do when you come in from walking or playing outside is to do a quick tick check.
Inspect your legs, arms, and have someone else check the areas you can’t see yourself, specifically your scalp, neck, ears, your eyebrows and underarms. (Yes, they can and do dig in and hide themselves in the hair. Since most ticks are smaller than a centimeter, it’s easy for them to hide.)
If you’re going into a wooded area or an open area with really tall grass (higher than your shoes), be sure to wear knee-length socks, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants. You can also consider tucking your pants into your socks for extra protection. (It may look weird, but it’s a lot better than Lyme Disease.) Take a shower to wash off any loose ticks and immediately throw your clothes into the dryer for ten minutes to kill any ticks with heat before you wash them.
If you find a tick on yourself, child, or a pet, there’s a method to removing it. When a tick bites you, it drives its head under the skin. If you just yank the tick off or scratch it off, you may leave the bug’s head inside you.
This alone won’t cause Lyme Disease, but it will often lead to a really nasty infection. Instead, use tweezers (or a specially designed tick removal tool) to grab the tick firmly as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight up and out. Don’t twist it or move it back and forth. Just pull straight until the tick lets go.
Aftercare for Tick Removal
After you do this, be sure to wash the bite (and your hands) with anti-bacterial soap. You can also use a medicinal ointment like Neosporin. If the bite area develops a red ring, red bumps or if the person develops aches and a fever, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Take Time to Check
The great outdoors can be a fun place to walk, play, and explore. However, you need to respect these areas by paying attention to the hidden dangers lurking out there such as ticks. Even though they can be some of the tiniest bugs in the wilderness, they can cause really severe problems if you don’t handle them properly.
Be Prepared for the Great Outdoors!
Enjoy knowing that no matter what happens at the park or playing ball – you know EXACTLY where your first aid kit supplies are. Designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind. Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.
There’s something about seeing our kids looking so small and helpless when they’re ill that kicks in the “mom” instinct making us want to kiss it and make it all better.
But if mom’s kisses don’t cure the problem, then you’re going to have to turn to the first aid kit or the medicine cabinet. When that happens, there are a few medicines you absolutely MUST have on hand for just such an emergency. If you don’t, Murphy’s Law dictates you’ll need the item at the least convenient time (such as in the middle of the night or when your spouse isn’t home and you’ll have to load all the kids into the car for a trip to the drugstore).
Here are three meds you need to have on hand in your medicine cabinet:
This is a nice one to have on hand as a painkiller and fever-reducer. The generic form of Motrin is ibuprofen and you can get this in pill form for your older kids or as a liquid suspension for the little ones.
It’s an NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) that works by blocking inflammation to reduce pain. Because of its anti-inflammatory nature, it makes Motrin an ideal choice if your child gets banged up a bit playing sports.
As a fever-reducer, it can really help.
When you’re using Motrin for a fever reducer, it may not work right away to bring the fever down but the problem is that you can’t give too many doses in a short period of time.
For example, when I give my kids motrin, I usually can’t give the next dose for another 6 hours. But if their fever is still up, I can’t wait six hours. I need to get that fever down. So in this case, I would give them some Tylenol at the mid way point, which is at the 3 hour mark. Then in another 3 hours, if they still have the fever, I can give them the next dose of Motrin because it has been 6 hours since the last time they got it. Same concept with the Tylenol. I would alternate with these 2 meds until the fever came down.
The generic name for Tylenol is acetaminophen, so be sure you look for this if you aren’t getting the name brand. Also, as with any medicine, check the weight chart for the right dosage so you know you’re giving your little one the correct amount.
The third med you really need to keep on hand is Benadryl. This is an antihistamine, so it can help with allergy relief symptoms like a runny nose or sneezing. It’s also been linked to alleviating nausea from car sickness. But what you really want this medicine for is if your child has an allergic reaction to something.
If your child starts breaking out in hives or a mild rash, you want a quick response. If your child is showing signs of swelling particularly around the tongue and mouth or is wheezing, whatever caused the reaction could lead to anaphylactic shock and time is of the essence. A dose of Benadryl will help alleviate the symptoms. It’s important you follow up with getting your child help at an emergency room as Benadryl is only intended to be a temporary measure to give you more time to get help.
How Medicines Have Changed Since We Were Kids!
Mary Poppins famously sang that a “spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Thankfully, a lot of these new medicines come in flavors that aren’t as awful tasting as when we were kids. But for the everyday aches, pains, and ailments your kid is most likely to develop, these are the three over-the-counter medicines you need to always have on tap at home.
Be Prepared for Illness!
Knowing no matter what happens at home, the park or playing ball, you know EXACTLY where your first aid kit supplies are – PRICELESS! Designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind. Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.
You’ve probably heard a lot of “home remedies” for different ailments like burns and a lot of these have left me shaking my head.
When I was a kid, do you know what my mom used to put on burns? Toothpaste! And then there are those folks who swear by putting butter on burns. Hopefully, no one is doing that anymore.
Kids Will Be Kids
I think we all know many of the burns that kids experience are preventable. And, of course, kids will be kids.
Even though we try our best, it’s literally impossible to keep our eyes on our kiddos 100% of the time and keep them from getting into things that can burn them. Kids want to have fun and don’t always think about the consequences.
Study Reports Burns Are Fifth Most Common Cause of Accidental Death
According to Johns Hopkins Medical School, burns and fires are the fifth most common cause of accidental death in children and adults. That means approximately 3,500 deaths per year.
The age group most affected are toddlers and young children (ages 4 and under). In fact, children 4 years old and younger who are hospitalized for burns are 65% likely to be the victims of scald burns with only 20% being from contact burns.
Watch Kids Around Water
Many of these scald burns come from hot tap water burns. Thankfully, regulations and the lack of open fires in homes have decreased burn injuries in the past thirty years. But they do still occur, no matter how much you try to stop them.
When dealing with burns, it can be difficult as there are so many different types and severity: thermal, electrical, and chemical burns and first-, second-, or third-degree burns. Even I have a hard time keeping track.
Determine If the Burn Is a
Hopefully, you’ll never have to experience any of these as a parent, but if you do, it’s important to keep calm and follow the steps.
If the burn is minor, a first-degree burn such as a sunburn where the skin is just reddened but still intact:
- Cool the burn with cold compresses or cool water (NO ice!)
- Cover the burn with a clean bandage
- If you need to ease the pain of the burn, use over the counter pain meds. Also, aloe vera or burn gel can be applied for extra relief.
- If the skin blisters, do not pop them. This may increase the chance of infection. Instead, just cover them and keep them clean.
See a Doctor for Any Other Type of Burn
In a child especially, the severity of the burn depends on the size and location of the burn. There’s actually a whole formula used to determine it, but I say keep it simple. If you have any doubt that it’s anything more than a minor first-degree burn, seek professional medical help ASAP. It’s better to be too careful than not careful enough!
Discuss Safety with Your Kids
With the Fourth of July festivities coming up, it’s a good idea to discuss safety around the grill, fireworks and other activities that may have a flammable element with your kids.
Hopefully, this helps to inform you a bit more if you are ever to have to deal with a burn to one of your children. Just remember, please, NO toothpaste!
Be Prepared to Provide First Aid!
At the Fourth of July celebration, the park or playing ball – be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind. Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.
Spring’s here and that means summer is right around the corner.
And, if you’ve been cooped up in the house during this long winter, then I’m sure you can’t wait to get out into the sun and snap out of your cabin fever.
If you’re planning some fun in the sun, you’re going to want to do everything you can to protect your kids from sunburns. A few bad sunburns as a child may seem like a temporary inconvenience, but they can increase your child’s chances of getting skin cancer when they’re older.
Let’s look at easy ways to protect your kids to stay safe in the sun:
The general rule of thumb is that you need to apply (and reapply) sunscreen about every two hours you’re outside in direct sunlight.
So if you spend an 8 hour day out at the beach or by the pool, you’re going to want to reapply sunscreen four times during that period. You should do the first application about 30 minutes before you go outside, and the CDC is now recommending a minimum of 15 SPF, although higher levels wouldn’t hurt.
Additionally, make sure that you’re using sun protection designated for UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) rays. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to areas like the neck, ears, and face. Use sunscreen that’s waterproof (even sweat can wash off sunscreen) and reapply if you go into the water.
An easy way to protect your child from the sun is by covering them up as much as possible. Now, I’m not saying put the poor kid in a hazmat suit that covers them from head to toe. But, if weather allows, have them wear long sleeves and pants when going outside to protect their arms and legs.
If you’re at the beach or the pool, invest in a swim shirt that has built-in UVA protection. You can protect your child’s face with a big floppy hat (or a baseball cap).
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, darker clothes have been found to provide more protection than lighter colored clothes. (Many people shy away from these because they think the darker colors attract the sun more.)
Finally, don’t forget to protect your child’s eyes with a good pair of sunglasses that offers UVA protection.
Use shade as much as possible! If you’re going to the beach, bring an umbrella or portable “beach tent” so you can get into the shade when the sun gets too hot.
Check with your child’s school to make sure they have a shaded area outside on the playground or the PE practice fields. The sun is at its worst during mid-day (specifically from about noon to 3 or 4 PM). If you can, get outdoors during the early morning or late afternoon and schedule indoor activities during this extreme time.
With a little planning and prep, the whole family can enjoy time in the sun!
No need to be afraid of the sun, especially for your children. Protecting them now, protects them later. It’ll give them lifelong habits that will help them take care of their skin and hopefully stave off skin cancer well into their adult life.
Be Prepared for Sunburns!
At the beach, the park or playing ball – be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind. Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.