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Child Prodigy Blog

10 Ways to Prepare for Cold and Flu Season

09/06/2019 12:00:00

There’s no doubt about it. Cold and flu season is a sure thing. And it’s coming whether you’re ready or not. Nothing will take away all the risk of getting a cold or flu. But there are many things you can do to greatly reduce your chances of getting sick.

1. Stock your medicine cabinet.

Take time while you’re healthy to stock your medicine cabinet. Get rid of expired medicines and make a list of what you need to replace and replenish. Make sure to include fever and pain relief medicines, decongestants, antihistamines, and cough medicines. You may also want to buy nasal sprays (decongestant and saline), cough drops, and throat lozenges. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you have a chronic medical condition or you’re stocking up for children or a baby.

2. Load up on other health supplies.

Along with medicines, think about the other supplies you’ll need. Make sure you have a good thermometer and fresh batteries if it needs them. A humidifier may also come in handy. Then focus on the basics, such as tissues, hand sanitizer, and anti-bacterial soaps. Have plenty on hand so you’re ready for the first sneeze.

3. Fill your pantry with drinks and comfort foods.

Your kitchen is another area to stock while you’re healthy. A run to the grocery store once you’re sick won’t be fun. So think through it now and get what you need. Fluids are important when you have a cold or flu. Dehydration is the biggest reason you feel so lousy with cold or flu. Water is the best choice, but hot herbal teas can be soothing. And fruit juices give you extra vitamin C. Pick up some favorite foods that are easy to make and eat. For example, ice pops can feel good on a sore throat and chicken soup can be just what the doctor ordered.

4. Practice proper hand washing.

Proper hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent colds and flu. And it’s easy—easy to do and easy to teach to children. Start with warm water and your anti-bacterial soap. Work the lather for 20 seconds, paying extra attention to fingernails and jewelry. Singing “Happy Birthday” twice is a good way to judge the time. And kids know it well. Then rinse and dry your hands. Disposable towels are best so you can use them to turn off the water. This will protect you from putting germs from the faucet right back on your hands.

5. Keep your hands away from your face.

Another easy way to protect yourself is to keep your hands away from your face. Specifically, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. These are the areas where cold viruses gain entry into your system. The same bug that gives you a cold can cause viral pink eye. Keeping your hands away will keep any cold germs on them away as well. If you need to touch these areas, wash your hands before and after.

6. Get a flu vaccine.

Getting a yearly flu vaccine is an important step in preventing the flu. The flu spreads differently than colds and is very contagious. People can spread the flu a day before symptoms even show up. And the vaccine can protect you against the most common strains of the flu. It changes each year based on predictions for the upcoming flu season. The vaccine is usually available by October, but you can get it any time during the flu season.

7. Practice healthy living habits.

Healthy living habits can boost your immune system. On the other hand, getting run down and tired can make your immune system weak. So eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh foods and healthy proteins—lean meat, chicken and fish. Stay hydrated with water. Exercise regularly and get a good night’s sleep. For adults, that means getting 7 to 8 hours a day. Children need more. Gauge if you’re getting enough by paying attention to any daytime sleepiness or sleepiness while driving.

8. Clean household surfaces.

Cold and flu viruses can survive on surfaces outside the human body; times range from seconds to a couple of days. And they tend to live longer on hard, non-porous surfaces, such as metal, plastic and wood. Cleaning household surfaces with disinfectants will kill cold and flu germs. Look for products containing bleach, alcohol, pine oil, sodium hypochlorite, citric acid, hydrogen peroxide, or quaternary ammonium compounds. An EPA registration number on the label will tell you if the product meets specifications for disinfectants. You may have to look for it in the small print areas.


9. Make a plan for sick days.

If you work outside the home, make a plan for sick days. Even if you feel like you could work, your co-workers will appreciate you keeping your germs at home. Verify that you have several sick days available to use during the season. Or find out if you’ll need to take the time unpaid. And see about working from home if possible when you have a sick child. Other options include enlisting family or neighbors to help with sick kids or using sick-child day care programs.

10. Stop the spread of germs.

If you’re healthy, stay away from sick people as much as possible. If you do get sick, know ahead of time how to keep your germs to yourself. And teach these strategies to your kids. Cough and sneeze into a tissue. Then discard the tissue and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. And don’t share items, such as utensils and cups. Do as much as you can to limit contact with others.


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Parents: 9 Back to School Pro Tips

08/05/2019 12:00:00

Back to school time can be a hectic time for both you and the kiddos. These are some of our best back to school tips to help ensure this school year gets off to a great start!




Walk or ride the route your child will take and make note of school patrols, crossing guards and high traffic areas along the way. Talk to your kids about NOT talking to strangers and find out what, if any, policies your child’s school has regarding early arrivals or late pick-ups. Learn about the school’s entrance and exit policies. Then, if you can, pop in and check out what the inside of the school looks like.



Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher and ask him or her about the preferred method of communication. (Some teachers are active on email and social media, while others prefer the phone or in-person meetings.)


Make homework time a daily habit. Find a quiet and consistent place at home where your child can complete his or her homework. If your child is having difficulty with his or her homework, make an appointment with the teacher sooner rather than later.


Set up a special place at home to do school work and homework. Remove distractions. Make it clear that education is a top priority in your family: show interest and praise your child’s work.


Limit the time that you let your child watch TV, and when you do decide to do TV time, make it a family affair. Talk together about what you see and ask questions after the show ends.


During the summer, children aren’t always on a schedule, which is understandable. But, proper rest is essential for a healthy and productive school year. Help your kids get back on track sleep-wise by having them go to bed earlier and wake up earlier at least a week in advance of when school actually starts.


Let’s face it – no one can concentrate when they’re hungry. Studies show that children who eat healthy, balanced breakfasts and lunches do better in school. Fix nutritious meals at home, and, if you need extra help, find out if your family qualifies for any child nutrition programs, like the National School Lunch Program.


It’s a good idea to take your child in for a physical and an eye exam before school starts. Most schools require up-to-date immunizations, and you may be asked to provide paperwork showing that your child has all the necessary shots and vaccines. So, check your state’s immunization requirements. And, always keep your own copies of any medical records.


Make a plan to read with your child for 20 minutes every day. Your example reinforces the importance of literacy, and reading lets you and your child explore new worlds of fun and adventure together.

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8 Ways to Keep Your Children Hydrated All Summer

07/01/2019 12:00:00

Hello summer! It’s almost time for the kids to get out of school and many will be starting summer activities and sports. One of the most important parts of health is staying hydrated, but summer time can make that even more challenging than usual. Kids can become dehydrated for a variety of reasons, including a fever, diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating from long periods of exercise or heat, and some illnesses. 

If getting your kids to drink water is a struggle, you’re not alone. Encourage your kids to drink up with these fun tips that can last all summer long!

8 Ways to Keep Your Kids Hydrated All Summer | UnityPoint Health - Sioux City

1. Make Water Visible

Children are more likely to drink water if they can see it. Place water for them to drink strategically around your home. Have a pitcher available in the kitchen, serve them water with dinner, and place a glass of water next to their bed at night. Children who don’t consume enough water will begin to show signs and symptoms of dehydration. The signs of dehydration in children include:

  • A dry or sticky mouth

  • Very little or no tears when crying

  • Eyes that look sunken into their head

  • A sunken soft spot on a baby’s head

  • Lack of urine for 12 hours in older kids, or a very small amount of dark yellow urine

  • Lack of urine or wet diapers for 6 to 8 hours in younger children, or a very small amount of dark yellow urine

  • Cool, dry, wrinkled skin

  • Lethargy

  • Irritability

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Rapid and deep breathing

Being thirsty is not a good sign of dehydration.

The feeling of being thirsty may be an indicator that your child is already dehydrated. Allow them to drink as much water as they want if they are feeling thirsty, however, remember that they may not be fully hydrated even if they are no longer thirsty.

2. Make it Fun!

Buy your kids special cups or crazy straws so that drinking water becomes more fun. Let it be something they look forward to when they come home from school or something special they get when they are in the car. Kids who participate in sports should drink water before an activity begins, during the activity, and after the activity ends to stay hydrated.

3. Make it Tasty

Some kids just don’t want to drink water! If your kids really love juice, mix three-parts water with one-part 100% fruit juice to create your own concoction. You can also make a pitcher of water mixed with fruits like melons, lemons, oranges, strawberries, or grapes to create different flavors. Let your kids help mix up this water so they will be more interested in drinking it!

4. Make It Interesting

Create ice cubes filled with fruit to make water more interesting to drink. The fruit will add a pop of color and watching the ice melt could be a fun game. When all of the water is gone, your kids get to eat the fruit which is also filled with water.

5. Buy Reusable Water Bottles

Buy reusable water bottles for the whole family! Take them with you in the car, on outings, and to sporting events. Kids who participate in sports  run a higher risk of dehydration, especially if they are outside in the heat. Dehydration in children can cause extreme fussiness, sleepiness, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeats, rapid breathing, a fever, and in serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness.

6. Make Homemade Popsicles

By mixing together 100% fruit juice and water and freezing it in a tray with a stick, you can get your kids to consume more water! This fun activity can also help beat the heat during a summer day. A child who has become dehydrated from physical activity or heat should rest indoors or in the shade and drink water until they are rehydrated. 

If your child has become dehydrated due to an illness, you should talk to your doctor about what products they recommend to get children rehydrated. There are many products that you can buy that are specifically made for rehydration (these are not sports drinks!).

7. Make It Cold

Adding ice to water can make your kids more inclined to drink it. Children who become severely dehydrated from activity or heat are at an increased risk of developing a heat injury like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or the very serious heat stroke. Severe dehydration can also cause the swelling of the brain, seizures, low blood volume shock, kidney failure, or worse.

8. Don’t Buy The Bad Stuff

Your kids aren’t in control of what you buy at the store, you are! Take this time to avoid sports drinks, soft drinks, and other sugary drinks. Sports drinks are only appropriate if your child participates in athletics or another activity that causes sweating. If you don’t have these types of drinks in your house, your kids can’t drink them!

There is no magic number of ounces of water that your child should be consuming everyday. It all depends on their activity level, the weather, and what other foods and drinks they have been consuming. Most adults have probably heard that they should be drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, but that also includes the water in other foods and drinks they have been consuming.

Adults can follow these tips as well and make drinking more water a family affair! It’s important to call a family medicine provider if your child develops any signs of dehydration, especially if it is associated with vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy, or they haven’t wet any diapers in over 8 hours. Schedule a spring and sports physical with a provider today to get your kids ready for anything summer brings!


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Child Prodigy Children's Center
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