Tips for Back-to-School

It’s back-to-school season and we got some tips and things to add to your checklist to ensure a healthy, safe, and productive year for your kids!

Firstly, we suggest preparing for the first day in advance, whether your child is starting school for the first time or entering a new grade. Many kids feel anxious about changes, like being in a new classroom and having a different teacher. Talk to them beforehand and share some of the positive aspects of school, such as making friends or learning their favorite subject. It’s also helpful to rehearse the first day or take your child to visit the school before they start so that they have an idea of what to expect and become more familiar with the environment.

If your child is going to a new school, see if there’s an orientation available that both you and them can attend. They can tour the school and meet their teachers prior to their first day. There are also many books available about starting school to read with them. Many of these share what to expect and feature characters who overcome their fears. It’s always best to prepare as much as possible for the first day, including reviewing your child’s schedule with them, knowing where their classroom is and what supplies they’ll need, and reading through the school’s guidelines. 

Before your child begins their first day, help them get back into their sleep routine for school. If your child developed a different sleep pattern during the summer holidays, they might have become used to going to bed later and waking up later. We recommend making the sleep transition prior to the start of the year so that they have the right routine once they’re back in school. Getting adequate sleep is not only important for your child’s physical and mental health, but important for their academic performance. Sleep deprivation can make it difficult for children to focus in school and can negatively affect their memory skills. 

As a reminder, grade-school children need 9-12 hours of sleep per night and teenagers need 8-10 hours. It’s best to maintain a regular sleep routine where children go to bed and wake up at the same times each day. Consistency will help your child sleep well through the night. We also recommend turning off screen devices at least one hour before your child goes to bed. The light from screen devices can cause sleep disruption or make it difficult for your child to fall asleep. 

In addition to making sure that your child is well rested, it’s also essential to start your child’s day with a healthy and nutritious breakfast. A well-balanced meal in the morning will give them the energy they need for school. 

If your kids will be taking the bus, review safety precautions with them like looking both ways on the street for any vehicles before crossing. They should also wait to board the bus until it completely stops and puts out the stop sign. 

A new school year might mean a new backpack for your child. You’ll always want to avoid a poorly fitted one as it can be unsafe for your child’s back and posture. Instead, find a backpack that has wide and padded shoulder straps and make sure to adjust them so that the bottom sits at your child’s waist. Kids should always wear both straps together to prevent muscle strain and backpacks should never weigh more than 10-20% of your child’s weight. 

Lastly, an important thing to remember for back-to-school season is keeping up with your child’s well checkups. We’ll make sure that their immunizations are up-to-date and can provide all of the necessary medical forms they’ll need for school and sports. Contact our office if you have any questions or to make an appointment.

Insect Bites Prevention

Mosquitoes, biting flies, and ticks can make kids (and adults) miserable! Insect bites happen

more commonly during the summer, especially from mosquitoes. They can cause a great deal of discomfort, irritation, and even pain. In a few cases, they can also cause serious illness, like

Lyme disease which is transmitted from ticks. We know bug bites are annoying! So we have

some tips for you to follow to ensure a comfortable and safe summer for you and your kids. 

One of the best ways to protect your children is to use an insect repellent that has been registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We recommend checking out this search tool to find the right one for your family. Note that the most effective repellents contain DEET. The higher the concentration of DEET is, the longer protection it will provide. 10% DEET provides about 2 hours of protection and 30% provides about 5 hours of protection. Choose the lowest concentration that will be effective based on the amount of time your child will be outside. If you know you will be out for an hour, for an example, choose a product with 10% DEET. Increase the DEET percentage if spending a longer time outside. 

Bug sprays that have more than 30% DEET do not provide longer protection, however, and greater than 30% DEET is not recommended to be used on children. It is also helpful to use sprays that contain picaridin which is particularly effective for repelling mosquitoes. Using a concentration of 20% can protect your family for 8 to 12 hours. Premethrin-containing products are most effective against ticks. But, it’s important to know that they should NOT be applied to skin directly but to clothing instead.

Insect repellents only protect against biting insects and not stinging ones such as bees, wasps and hornets. They should be applied only on exposed skin (not under clothing) and to the outside of your child’s clothing. Using more of the product does not make the repellent more

effective. Another thing to be aware of when it comes to insect repellents is to avoid products

that are combined with sunscreen. These products can overexpose your child to DEET as

sunscreen needs to be reapplied every 2 hours.

We always advise following the directions carefully on the repellent products and read any warnings. Never apply insect repellent to a child younger than 2 months of age. Be extra cautious and conservative with the amount you use for children under 2 years old. It is best to apply the repellent on young children until they’re old enough to do it on their own. And even for older children, it is recommended that they are supervised. 

When applying the repellent to your child’s face, do not spray directly as it can get into their eyes or mouth. Instead, spray it on your hand and then rub the product on their face. Make sure to avoid the eyes and mouth, as well as any cuts or wounds since the spray can cause them to sting. Wash your child’s skin with soap and water to remove any repellent

when they return indoors, and clean their clothes before they wear them again. If your child

develops any negative reaction to the spray, discontinue use immediately and wash their skin

with soap and water. Call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222 for assistance if and when needed.

Aside from repellents, dressing your children in lightweight clothes that cover most of the skin

and hats can also keep them safe from insects. To protect babies, consider

putting a mosquito net over their stroller whenever you are in areas where there are a lot of

mosquitoes. Encourage your children to stay away from garbage cans, stagnant pools of water,

or flower beds as insects often congregate there. You’ll also want to keep the door and window screens in good repair and avoid the use of scented perfumes, lotions, etc. on your child as these can attract insects.

If your child gets a bite from a tick and the tick stays attached to the skin, it is important to

remove the tick immediately. You can do so with a pair of tweezers. Hold the tweezers sideways to the skin and grasp the tick to pull it upwards. After the tick is removed, wash the wound with soap and water. You can then apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment. Check your child’s skin at the end of each day if you live in an area where ticks are present and your child has been playing outdoors. If your child experiences a rash or fever from a tick bite or any other insect bite, call our office right away.


The following types of products are not effective for repelling insects: wristbands soaked in chemical repellents, garlic or Vitamin B taken by mouth, ultrasonic devices that give off sounds waves and designed to keep insects away, bird or bat houses, and backyard bug zappers (insects may actually be attracted to your yard!).

Staying Hydrated with Water

The hot and humid summer has been brutal for many of us! To avoid heat illnesses, it’s very important that your family drinks a sufficient amount of water and stays hydrated. In this blog, we talk about how much water your children need and how to encourage them to drink enough water.

No matter the season, water is always the best choice of drink for children over 6 months of age. Water has no calories or added sugar; it keeps the joints, bones, and teeth healthy, helps with blood circulation, and helps maintain a healthy weight. It can also improve mood, memory, and attention in kids. The amount of water your child needs will depend on their age. 

Babies under 6 months of age should not be given water. Instead, they should be exclusively given breast milk or formula. More than 80% of breast milk is made up of water and provides all of the necessary fluids for your baby. After 6 months, you can start introducing plain water to your infant. Until they reach the age of one, they only need 4-8 ounces per day as the rest of the water should come from breast milk or formula. 

Between the ages of 1-3, children need about 4 cups of water per day which can include the water in milk. Between the ages of 4-8, kids should drink 5 cups and for older children, they should drink 7-8 cups. These are the standard recommendations but they should be adjusted based on levels of activity and environmental conditions. For example, when your child is involved in sports and other physical activities or if the weather is hot, they should consume more water. Children should also drink water before, during, and after physical activities to prevent dehydration. 

We recommend avoiding giving your child sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda and juice. Children under 2 years of age especially should not be given these drinks. For older kids, these beverages should be limited as much as possible. The high content of added sugar in these drinks can lead to unhealthy weight gain, obesity, dental cavities, type 2 diabetes, and other long-term health conditions. Sugary beverages also contain “empty” calories that don’t offer nutritional value and discourage your kids from drinking plain water or eating the nutritious foods their bodies need. 

Even juices that are labeled as 100% fruit juice should be strictly limited. Although they can contain some vitamins, they are still high in calories and added sugar. Eating whole fruits instead is always the better option as they contain a healthy amount of fiber which is lower in juice. Whole fruits are also good sources of water. 

If your child is bored with drinking just plain water, you can make it more appealing and fun for them. Infusing water with fruits like lemons, berries, or cucumber can add some flavor. You can also freeze fruit into ice cubes to decorate their glass or use water bottles and cups that feature their interests, like favorite cartoon characters. Even a fun straw can go a long way. 

One of the best ways to encourage your children to drink water is to be a good model. Drinking water in front of your child will help them develop the habit as well. Remind your kids to drink water frequently throughout the day as sometimes they can forget. 

As a final note, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of dehydration to address it quickly. For babies, some of the signs include less than the typical amount of wet diapers (6-8), excessive sleepiness, a sunken soft spot on the head, and a lack of tears while crying. For older children, you might see dry lips, infrequent urination or dark-colored urine, fatigue, irritability, flushed skin, headaches, lightheadedness, and rapid pulse. 

If you have any concerns that your child is not getting enough to drink or questions about keeping your kids hydrated, please contact us.