Cooking is more fun with kids

Edward Elmhurst Health shared that if there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that kids love getting their hands dirty.

They have just as much fun making mud pies in a backyard “kitchen” as they do making a more-edible yogurt parfait.

It’s a great idea to get kids working in the kitchen, even at a young age. The more you teach kids about good nutrition, the more likely they will be to make a habit of healthy cooking. Another bonus — cooking provides math, literacy, and science lessons that are guaranteed to be fun!

Working on a recipe together gives adults an opportunity to teach kids about cleanliness. Thoroughly wash hands, utensils, and work surfaces before starting, and make sure kids know not to sample the food before it’s cooked.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides an excellent breakdown of tasks kids can safely handle in the kitchen by age:

3-5 year olds

Young children love helping out but need very close adult supervision since their motor skills are still developing. Teach these youngsters the importance of washing produce and using clean appliances and utensils.

Age-appropriate tasks:

  • Wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Make it a game by singing the “Happy Birthday” song together twice as you wash your hands.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables in the sink with cool tap water.
  • Wipe up tabletops.
  • Mix ingredients like easy-to-mix batters.
  • Brush (or “paint”) oil with a clean pastry brush on bread, asparagus, or other foods.
  • Cut cookies with fun-shaped cookie cutters (but don’t eat the raw dough!).

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Have You Signed Up Yet?

This fall, we invite you to join the Healthy Driven Take a Hike! Challenge. For eight weeks, from Sept. 1 to Oct. 27, rediscover the healthy benefits of being active and spending time outdoors. It’s a great opportunity for all ages — from kids to seniors — to exercise in the fresh air and learn cool stuff about nature while bonding with family and friends.

This year’s Challenge has a new twist!

We are partnering with local community sponsors to bring you hiking insights and expertise, special programming and ideas to Elevate Your Hike each week!

When you complete and track 6 hikes during the 8-week Challenge period, you’ll earn the Take a Hike! Trail Blaze Award.

What Is A Take a Hike! Trail Blaze Award?

When you complete and track 6 hikes during the 8-week Challenge period, you’ll earn the Take a Hike! Trail Blaze Award* (includes either a commemorative pin or a walking stick with a commemorative medallion – pictured right).

Complete the Take a Hike! Tracker and bring it to one of the below locations between Oct. 28 – Nov. 30 to pick up your award:

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The Urgent Case for Green Schoolyards During and After COVID-19

Small group of happy children making bubbles and playing together in nature

The following article was published in the September 2020 issue of Green Schoolyards Catalyst Quarterly, a publication of the Green Schoolyards National Network dedicated to the advancement of green, healthy, sustainable K-12 schools. GSCQ is a peer reviewed, high interest digital magazine that highlights evidence-based practices for replication in green, healthy, sustainable schools.

Choices made in response to change can transform crisis into opportunity. The outbreak of COVID-19 across the globe has radically impacted our lives, creating significant shifts in routines and behaviors and upending our ideas of a “normal” we can never go back to. From the climate crisis to a global viral pandemic, to protests erupting around the nation in a fight to end systemic racism, it has never been more critical to invest in education that supports well-being, justice, and resiliency for students, teachers, communities, and the natural environment which sustains life.

COVID-19 has taught us we are capable of rapid change. The closing of school buildings and the move to online learning this spring was tremendously challenging for many families to navigate. While there are many benefits to online learning, especially for older students, teaching and learning to happen best in relationships with others and the rest of the natural world. How can we leverage the momentum of this time of massive disruption to shift to a more mindful, sustainable, and equitable model of public education that addresses new and deeply embedded threats and injustice? Read more

A school year survival kit for parents

Edward Elmhurst Health shared in its blog that if you’re like many parents, the school year can be stressful. Very stressful. And this year, there is added stress as families continue to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

From making breakfast, packing lunches, and trying to catch the school bus, to making dinner, juggling after-school activities and helping with homework, before you know it the day is done — only to repeat all over again tomorrow.

Even as you’re at your full-time job, your inbox gets flooded with emails about what your child should bring tomorrow, permission slips to be signed and upcoming school events you can’t miss. Your sports/school apps are buzzing with notifications.

Most days, it feels like there’s not enough time to get it all done. Your stress level is through the roof and you could lose it at any moment.

How can you get through the school year and maintain your mental well-being? Try these 10 tips:

  1. Get organized. Store important school papers in the same place (e.g., a kitchen drawer). Hang reminders on the fridge or add them to your phone’s calendar. Have your child keep their school backpack, music instrument, etc. in one location in your house (e.g., mudroom). 
  2. Encourage good homework habits. Establish a consistent time and a designated homework spot for your child. Provide help, but don’t do the work for them. Be sure to praise them for their efforts. Get 6 tips to help your child develop good homework habits
  3. Prepare for the day ahead. Do what you can to make the mornings go smooth. Have your child lay out their clothes the night before. You can also pack school lunches the night before, or get your child to pack their own lunch. 
  4. Keep the teacher in the loop. Keeping the lines of communication open with your child’s teacher will help you stay on top of any issues. If your child seems to be struggling to understand assignments, let the teacher know. Read more


Epidemiologist Dr. Xiaoyan Song, PhD, MBBS, MSc, the Director of the Infection Control/Epidemiology at Children’s National Hospital and an Investigator in the Children’s National Research Institute, share in the “Rise & Shine” Blog that as children are getting ready to go back to school, many parents are wondering about the safety of activities they previously took for granted, like riding the school bus. We asked epidemiologist Dr. Xiaoyan Song about the risks of getting COVID-19 from the school bus and what precautions parents, educators, and bus drivers can take to ensure their students’ safety.

Can students get COVID from riding the school bus?

Research has shown that the risk of getting COVID-19 from riding a school bus is low when basic precautionary measures — such as masking, only allowing two kids per seat, and leaving the windows open — are taken.

Do you think the highly transmissible Delta variant will change these findings?

Based upon the current data, the Delta variant could increase a student’s chance of coming across someone with the virus on the school bus. However, if the student continues to practice basic protective measures including masking and social distancing, their chance of getting the virus on a school bus remains very low. Recognizing that there is still much to learn about this new variant, we would recommend everyone to be vigilant and stay informed should new information become available. Read more


Hayley T. Sparks, MD, a pediatric resident at Children’s National Hospital, and Sahira Long,  MD, FAAP, a board-certified pediatrician and lactation consultant at Children’s National, shared in the “Rise and Shine” Newsletter that as more and more Americans get the COVID-19 vaccine, parents have been asking if they should get the COVID-19 vaccine while breastfeeding. We asked our specialists at Children’s National to answer some questions about COVID, the vaccine, and breastfeeding.

Does getting the COVID-19 vaccine to protect my breastfed child?

Probably. While there is still limited research, it seems that getting vaccinated does cause antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in the breastmilk. This is good news because we know when a person secretes antibodies against other diseases in breastmilk, the breastfed baby is protected against those diseases by the antibodies (the official term for this is “passive immunity”). We are still doing research to determine how much the antibodies against COVID protect breastfed infants of vaccinated parents. Children’s National is even working on a research study to answer that question right now! Read more

What’s Behind America’s Declining Birth Rate?

Harmony Healthcare IT shared that earlier this year, data from the United States Census Bureau revealed that the American population grew at the slowest rate since the 1930s during the last decade. Researchers from the Brookings Institute also estimate that the U.S. might see as many as 300,000 fewer births this year alone due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a healthcare data management firm that has migrated and archived millions of U.S. patient records, we were curious to find out what’s behind America’s birth rate decline and why women are opting to delay or forgo motherhood. We recently surveyed women without children between the ages of 18-51 to ask them about their feelings about starting a family.

Family Planning

According to respondents, 52% say they plan to have children while 17% say they’re “unsure” about starting a family, and nearly one-third (31%) have no plans at all to have a child. These numbers vary considerably among women who are in a relationship compared to single women. Among women who are either married or in a relationship, 59% say they plan to have a child. Among single women, 42% say they will not have a child and 24% say they “aren’t sure.”

According to respondents, there are many reasons why women don’t plan to have children, but finances and careers are at the top. Impact on lifestyle and a lack of freedom was also among the main reasons women say they don’t want to have children. Read more

Back To School Resources for Kids with Food Alergies

Whether away from the classroom for just a few weeks or for 18 long months, students with food allergies face unique safety challenges as they return to in-person learning.

FARE’s Back-to School Resource Hub has solutions to help students of all ages, plus families, teachers, and school staff. Download essential emergency plans, tip sheets, activities, and a checklist for first-time parents that can also help seasoned pros.

You’ll find training, webinars, inspiring stories, anti-bullying strategies, COVID-19-related resources, college advice, and more. With knowledge and preparation, our students can take on the new year safely and with confidence.

FARE’s list of whom to talk to, what documents you need, and how to best prepare you and your child with food allergies for a confident return to school is extremely well done. For example, it lists:

 What to Do Before School Starts

Be well-versed in your child’s food allergy. 

  • The foods he or she must avoid. 
  • The signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction. 
  • The ways your child might describe an allergic reaction. 
  • The correct way to use an epinephrine auto-injector. 
  • Make sure your child knows what to do if he or she experiences an allergic reaction.

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4 Essential Oral Health Tips for Children: How to Make Sure Kids Follow Them

Dr. Satish Pai  (BIO below) wrote for Healthy Lombard that healthy teeth are a result of good oral habits. Following good oral health practices from a young age help in establishing lifelong patterns. Make oral care fun for the kids so that they can get into the habit of taking care of their teeth, especially if they have braces.

Here are 4 ways to help your kids practice good oral habits.

Teach Them About Tooth-Friendly Foods

Foods like vegetables, fruits, lean meat, and cheese are good for teeth with braces, unlike candy, cookies, caramel, or chips. But, kids may not be too happy about eliminating the latter from the diet.

Make them understand why they have to make that change for a few months. Explain that avoiding some foods for a few months will benefit them and help them get healthy teeth.

Include your kids when you shop for groceries, fruits, and vegetables. Ask them to lend a hand when you prepare healthy snacks. When they are a part of the process, they won’t be too fussy about eating foods from the ‘To-Eat’ list.

Use a Mouth Guard During Contact Sports

Dental braces may put some restrictions on your kid’s diet but not on their playtime. Ensure your kid puts on a mouth guard every time they play, especially during contact sports.

A mouth guard protects the braces as well as the teeth, gums, and jaw. Bring your child to the dentist so that they can understand different options of mouth guards they can use. Let them have a say in which mouth guard they want to buy as they will be keen on using something they chose.


Make a Habit of Brushing and Flossing

Assist your child in brushing and flossing their teeth if they are young. Help them develop the routine until they get used to the braces. Make sure they brush and floss twice a day.

Let the child choose their toothbrush, favorite-flavored toothpaste, and floss. They will be more likely to brush on their own when they choose oral health care products.

Tell your kids to brush to their favorite song. You can also play ‘Brushing songs’ that are common in kid’s shows or online videos. Reward them if they brush regularly. The reward can be a new toy, a trip to the park, new coloring books, etc.

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