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Kids and Fevers – Don’t Freak Out

I was not prepared as a parent for when my kids got sick. Not at all. Not even a little.

Throw in the abject terror of the first fever and combine it with a complete lack of knowledge about sick kids and you end up feeling like most full-time parents. I remember when Will got his first fever I had no clue what to do. I was home alone with him at the time and the thermometer said 102.3 degrees, so I did what any new dad would do.

I called the pediatrician and asked her whether I should bring Will to her or go to the emergency room.

Yes, it was an overreaction. No, I didn’t know it’s sometimes OK for a kid to run a fever if there are no other serious symptoms. But luckily for you, my ignorance can be your wisdom. I’ve teamed up with Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA’s) Educational Foundation in support of KnowYourOTCs.org, to give you four FAQs I wish I had before I made a fool of myself.

Here are some tips from Dr. Swanson from Seattle Mama Doc.

1, Is it necessary to treat every fever? 
The short answer is no. Remember, treat your child’s symptoms. If they have a fever but they’re acting acting playful then they’re likely OK. But if there’s a fever and you notice they seem tired or unwell, it’s probably time to call a pediatrician.- or do they seem tired and unwell? According to Dr. Swanson “Fever is a natural response of the immune system – it’s a response to illness, not illness itself.”

2. So when kids have a fever, when should you seek out the pediatrician? 
Dr. Swanson recommends seeing the pediatrician if the fever persists after three days in infants and children, in any fever in a baby three months or younger, or any fever over 104.

3. Are you correctly dosing your child? Be precise with right device.
Before offering your child an OTC pain reliever, remember to always read the Drug Facts label to ensure correct dosage and to make sure you aren’t double dosing because some cold and flu OTCs contain acetaminophen. According to a study conducted by the National Institute for Health (NIH), eight out of 10 parents have given the wrong dose of liquid medicine by accident. Only use the dosing device that comes with the medicine to ensure proper dosing.Never ever use a kitchen spoon – it is never appropriate to substitute for the dosing device that comes with the medicine.  Find more tips on safe dosing here. And remember to dose your child based on their weight, not their age.

4. What about alternating between ibuprofen and acetaminophen? 
If you decide to alternate between these two medicines, make sure you are keeping track of dosage and time. Make sure you start with one medicine and then offer the other medicine next, about 3-4 hours later. Dr. Swanson wants to remind parents that neither medicine should be used for more than 72 hours without consulting a physician. Click here for a helpful dosing chart based on child’s weight, for ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

And here’s a helpful infographic.

This is a sponsored post. I am collaborating with the CHPA (Consumer Health Products Association) Educational Foundation and knowyourOTCs.org. I was compensated for this post but as always, my opinions are my own.

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Lice Can Be a Real Itch For Parents

Photo by Eduardo Balderas on Unsplash

I loved playing baseball when I was a kid.

I started playing instructional league when I was 5 and I made the All-Star team when I was nine. For four straight summers I did nothing but go to baseball practice and play in games. Those memories remain some of my fondest of all time because they represent a carefree time. An innocent time. A time filled with teammates, grass stains and spitting sunflower seeds while collecting as many trophies as possible.

Oh, and lice.

Yup, that’s right. Lice. Because every summer at least one kid on our team had it, and it was spread because we all shared batting helmets. I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure that’s why all kids have their own helmets now – just to avoid the lice.

I remember the itch seemed to grow more intense each time my mom screamed “DON’T SCRATCH!!!” at me. And that the shampoo we had to use smelled terrible. Also, since I had a little brother who wouldn’t leave me alone, we often ended up balling up all our infected clothes and bed sheets and just burning them to err on the side of caution.

My oldest son is nine and he hates baseball (what kind of red-blooded American dad am I??). But the only silver lining there is, so far, I’ve never had to deal with lice as a parent. While I can’t give you any personal tips of how we battled those little bastards, thankfully I have partnered with people who know exactly what they’re talking about in the war against lice – KnowYourOTCs.org.

Lice Facts

  • Tiny bugs the size of sesame seeds
  • Most common in preschool and elementary school aged kids
  • Head lice feed on small amounts of blood from the scalp
  • They can usually live 1 to 2 days without blood meal (hint: YOU are the meal)
  • They lay eggs in your hair close to the scalp
  • Often confused with dandruff
  • Can live for a 28-day cycle
  • Best found by combing through your child’s scalp one section at a time

How to Treat Lice

  • Check with doctor first (especially if your child is 2 or younger)
  • Do not apply any medicine if you are breastfeeding or pregnant
  • Use an FDA-approved over-the-counter treatment
  • Make sure ingredients include Permethrin or Piperonyl Butoxide and Pyrethrum Extract

Here are 10 safe use tips for parents from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  1. Follow the directions on the package exactly as written.
  2. Never let children apply the medicine. Medicine should be applied by an adult.
  3. Do not use medicine on a child 2 years or younger without first checking with your child’s doctor.
  4. Do not use or apply medicine to children if you are pregnant or breastfeeding without first checking with your doctor.
  5. Always rinse the medicine off over a sink and not during a shower or bath, so the medicine doesn’t run off the head onto other areas of skin. Place your child’s head over a sink and rinse the medicine off with warm water (not hot water).
  6. Never place a plastic bag on a child’s head.
  7. Do not leave a child alone with medicine in his or her hair.
  8. Store medicine in a locked cabinet, out of sight and reach of children.
  9. Check with your child’s doctor before beginning a second or third treatment. Your child may need repeat treatment 7 to 9 or 9 to 10 days after the first treatment depending on the medicine.
  10. Ask your child’s doctor if you have any questions or if treatments you have tried have not gotten rid of lice.

And just for good measure, here’s a really useful infographic should you find yourself in this unfortunate situation.

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own but I was compensated by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA’s) Educational Foundation in support of KnowYourOTCs.org for writing this post.

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Curiosity and Candy: Helpful Halloween Tips to Save a Sweet Tooth


Know what’s in those buckets and bags? Why they go door-to-door like sugar-crazed lunatics? Why they nudge one another off front stoops in an effort to be the first to reach into the bowl?

It’s all about the candy.

Let’s face it – for a kid candy is the beginning, middle, and end of Halloween. Sure the costumes are nice, but they’re only a means to a chocolate-covered, sticky, delicious end. The toughest part for me, as their dad, is to curtail their candy intake because, well, I’m also a candy fiend.

Give me all your Reese’s peanut butter cups. I’ll eat as many Hershey bars as I can get my hands on. I’ll do battle with 3 Musketeers and Junior Mints never live long enough to become seniors, because I’ll devour them. But HEAVEN HELP YOU if you give me or my family Butterfingers or candy corn.

The point is, I like candy just as much as my kids so it’s tough to tell them to knock it off with the candy when I’m simultaneously emptying it into my gullet.

But what I can do to battle the $2.7 billion Americans will spend on Halloween candy this year is make sure their oral health habits even out the candy insurgence that’s about to take place. How?

  • Brush and floss twice a day, especially after eating
  • Brush with a toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • Use a soft toothbrush
  • Floss with dental floss
  • Only give Tommy (under 3) a grain of rice-sized amount of toothpaste
  • Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for Sam (3-6) to minimize swallowing

You can read more tips here. And here’s a cool infographic.

This is a sponsored post. I am collaborating with the CHPA (Consumer Health Products Association) Educational Foundation and knowyourOTCs.org. I was compensated for this post but as always, my opinions are my own.

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Back to School Means the Return of the Kid Plague

You might be happy about the kids finally leaving the house during the day when school starts, but September means the return of germs and the Kid Plague.

It’s especially demoralizing because you know it’s coming. It’s inevitable and it looms over everything. You watch your kids like a parental hawk looking for signs of sickness. And just when you think maybe you’ve escaped this year’s Kid Plague — BOOM! Your kid sniffles. Then he wipes his nose with the back of his hand. Then he touches the kitchen counter. Suddenly there isn’t enough cleaning products in the world to stop what’s coming next.

However, while the Kid Plague is powerful, there are little things you can do to improve your chances. Like this easy tip from yours truly, winner of the “Small Victories Award.”

And if you don’t believe me, you’re in luck because there are a bunch of great bloggers with some additional tips that will prove really helpful. Watch this great video.

If you’re not already in the midst of Kid Plague, congratulations. But be warned, it could come at any moment. Because of that, I’d like to leave you with a few tips that might help mitigate things when the going gets tough.

  • Do you know how to properly treat a fever? Be confident that you are safely dosing your child.
  • It’s tough to know when it’s allergies and when it’s a cold. Here are some tips on telling the difference.
  • Be confident you are making smart, informed choices before treating your child’s symptoms and learn why reading the Drug Facts label is a critical step before offering an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine to your kids.
  • For tips on how to treat your family with care all year long, log onto KnowYourOTCs.org.

This is a sponsored post. I am collaborating with the CHPA (Consumer Health Products Association) Educational Foundation and knowyourOTCs.org. I was compensated for this post but as always, my opinions are my own.

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Kids and Sleep: Children Ruin Sleep But You Can Make It a Little Better

My kids are 9, 4, and almost 2. I’m about to talk to you about getting the right amount of sleep, which is hysterical since sleep is the one thing no one in this house seems to get. But I’m going to give it the old college try.

First of all, know how much sleep kids are SUPPOSED to get.

Last year, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, changed its recommendations for how much sleep children should get and the highlights are as follows:

  • Infants 4-12 months should sleep 12-16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
  • Children 1-2 years of age should sleep 11-14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
  • Children 3-5 years of age should sleep 10-13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
  • Children 6-12 years of age should sleep 9-12 hours per 24 hours
  • Teenagers 13-18 years of age should sleep 8-10 hours per 24 hours

Some parents are blessed with kids who come home from the hospital and sleep through the night right off the bat. But if you’re like me and none of your three kids fit this description, you’ll want to use a bat to bludgeon yourself because maybe then, in a fit of unconsciousness, you’ll actually get some rest.

Even when they got older, they weren’t good sleepers. Which is to say, they’re not really good sleepers right now. Will finally sleeps through the night, but Tommy is 50/50 and we often have to go get him once or twice in the wee hours of the morning.

And then there’s Sammy.

This picture is Sam sleeping on a dog bed on the floor in our room. That’s how desperate we were for sleep. Even before bed, Sam is difficult. He requires a set regimen and very specific, detailed agenda before he even considers falling asleep. So every night, I have to:

  • Sing him “In Heaven There is No Beer
  • Then I sing him “Keg on My Coffin
  • I end things with “Wagon Wheel
  • I have to tell a story that involves a dragon and Snow White, but it has to be new and original
  • I spray “monster dust” around the room and on Sam
  • I tuck him in like a mummy
  • I ask him what sweet dreams will have, and he answers either “catching big bass” or “anteaters” (his favorite animal).

Even after all that, chances are he’s going to get out of bed 3-5 times before he settles down. And even when he settles down, he’s going to get up at least once and try to sneak into our bed.

It’s exhausting and I feel like we’re failing ALL. THE. TIME. But we persist, mainly because we have to for their own good. A study published in Pediatrics found that children with non regular bedtimes had more behavioral difficulties, and consistent sleep routines lead to positive outcomes such as improved attention, improved behavior, and improved emotional regulation. The bottom line is insufficient sleep in children can also lead to increased risk for challenges with weight, hypertension, diabetes and decreased performance at school (not to mention erosion of parental sanity).

So how do you improve sleep habits, especially with many kids going back to school? Luckily, there are some things you can do to improve your odds along with one thing you should NEVER do. Let’s start with that one first.

No matter how tempting it might be, never give your child an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine to make them sleepy. If you are giving them OTC medicine, always read the label as cold and flu medicines may contain diphenhydramine, which can cause drowsiness. It is important to only treat your child with the right OTC medicine for the symptoms they are presenting, not to aid in sleep. And no whiskey on the gums, no matter how much your grandmother swears it’s fine.

Now, here are some things you CAN do:

  • Get into a routine and stick to it – consistency breeds familiarity which (hopefully) results in Zzzzzzzzzs. But if you have them going to bed at 11 pm one night and 7 pm the next, that’s going to be impossible.
  • Use 8 pm as a guideline – Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson of Seattle Mama Doc says melatonin levels naturally rise in kids under the age of 12 around 8 pm, and they begin getting tired. We try to follow Nature’s lead and make the transition to bed at 7:30 for Tommy (2), 8 for Sam (4) and 8:30 for Will (9).
  • Limit screen time before bed – the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all screens be turned off 30 minutes to 1-2 hours before bedtime. Small screens (like smart phones) are more disruptive to sleep than TV because the light from the devices can impede natural hormones that help us fall asleep. My kids are still too young for cell phones, but when they do get them, they won’t be allowed to sleep with them in their rooms.
  • Start a sleep diary – Granted, I haven’t tried this yet but after looking into it as a suggestion from the folks at KnowYourOTCs, it seems like a smart idea. Also, it would’ve come in handy for us as we just took Sam for a sleep study and other tests, and the information would’ve really helped the doctors as they try to treat him. Click here to learn more.

In the end, every kid is different and while a lack of sleep is a rite of passage for most parents, it doesn’t always have to be so hellish and there are ways to mitigate the damage. Well-rested kids are healthier and better adjusted, and so are their parents.

Or so I’ve heard.

This is a sponsored post. I am collaborating with the CHPA (Consumer Health Products Association) Educational Foundation and knowyourOTCs.org. I was compensated for this post but as always, my opinions are my own.

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