Here’s our annual roundup of tips to make sure kids make get a healthy start to the school year.
The experts say vaccinations are safe. Everyone needs adequate sleep — and a nutritious breakfast helps children focus on schoolwork.
Anat Feingold, an infectious disease pediatrician at Cooper University Hospital, says a flu shot is critical protection.
“A lot of parents we see will get every vaccine for their child but they won’t get influenza vaccine,” Feingold said. “They don’t recognize that some of the kids that get very sick with it were previously healthy children — it’s unpredictable.”
Feingold advises parents to get their children vaccinated as soon as the flu shot is available; there’s no such thing, she said, as getting the vaccine too early in the season.
“Parents should just make sure their child gets immunized,” Feingold said. “Use whatever vaccine is available. Don’t wait.”
There’s a new flu vaccine option this year, a shot that protects against four-strains of flu versus three, but the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t give preference to one kind of vaccine.
“Parents should not delay vaccinating their children to obtain a specific vaccine,” said pediatrician Henry Bernstein, when the group issued its guidelines this week.
Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on who should get a flu vaccine.
If your family’s sleep routine has gotten lax this summer, school nurse Dale Ayton says it’s high time to tighten up — and transition kids to a regular sleep schedule.
“Allowing the whole family to rise at a time that’s going to be unhurried and planned, so that the child can have breakfast,” said Ayton, a nurse practitioner at The Belmont School in Philadelphia. “The parents can take the child to school in an calm, prepared atmosphere. It does a lot to plan ahead.”
Beth Smith, a dietitian at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, also likes to plan ahead too. She preps breakfast the night before.
“Take some Greek yogurt, pair it with some whole-grain cereal and cut-up fruit. You can get some whole-wheat waffles that are frozen, put them in a toaster really quick, add some peanut butter and a banana, and that’s a really strong healthy breakfast for your kids,” Smith said.
For students in Philadelphia, Monday’s the first day of school.