Teachable Moments

What do you do when there’s nothing to do?

We’re often so busy with education and activities outside our homes, there aren’t many opportunities to educate children inside the home. Enter the quarantine of 2020. Never has there been a time where we were all in our homes for weeks at a time, without any outside activities. This time presents many opportunities for teachable moments around the house.

Laundry.

Darks and lights. What goes in the dryer, what doesn’t. Now is the time to teach your child some basic lessons around doing laundry to ensure your they aren’t clueless at the laundromat their freshman year of college. Even the youngest child can help load machines, measure detergent, push buttons and match up clean socks (if you can find both).

Cook.

Allow your child to (safely) assist with planning, preparing and cooking meals. Plan a cooking competition, with your child as the chef and the rest of the family as judges, set the table and have the family dress up for a fancy sit down dinner.

Make the bed.

This is a simple act that can set the tone for the rest of the day. Before you make it out of your room, you already accomplished something!

Read a map.

Because those turn by turn directions aren’t right every single time, you’ll want you child to have the ability to understand a map, paper or digital. Plan a scavenger hunt in your yard with a treasure at the end, and let your child be the leader. If you have older children, give geocaching a try!

Hammer a Nail.

Learning some basic home repair skills at an early age can come in handy (pun intended) when your child becomes a homeowner or apartment dweller. Assist your child with hammering nails into a board, teach them how to change a light bulb, plunge a toilet, paint a room or any other items on the to-do list. You’ll feel accomplished to check-off your list and your child will pick-up some great skills. It’s a win-win!

Clean the bathroom.

Much like lessons in home improvement and laundry, some basic cleaning skills will serve as lifelong tools for your child. Ask them to help with the dishes, pick-up toys, vacuum the rugs, clean the windows and the bathroom. Be sure an adult supervises children while cleaning and use products that are safe for children.

Balance a bank account.

This is a great way to teach math without having to learn elementary school math. Create a play store, give your kids some money and help them learn about spending and saving.

Plant a garden.

Find an area of your yard where your child can create their garden. Work together to clean the area, remove weeds and prepare the dirt to receive plants or seeds in the coming weeks. If you have the supplies needed, start seeds growing in a window now. The responsibility and reward of planting and caring for a garden throughout the summer are wonderful lessons for children and adults alike.

Manage a schedule.

Ask you child to create their own schedule. How do they want to structure their day? What’s important to them? Help them learn to balance free time or play time with work time. Getting work done is important, but learning to balance work with leisure will give them skills to manage their stress levels in adulthood.

Good Dog!

Owning a dog may be good for your health.

If you’re a dog person, you are familiar with the warmth a pup can bring into a home. Dogs are always happy to see “their person” and provide endless affection and joy. It tuns out, they do all that and more – owning a dog may actually be good for your health. According to the CDC, some of the health benefits of pet ownership include: decreased blood pressure, decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduced depression, and improved physical health. Owning a dog is not the sole answer to reducing heart disease or high blood pressure, but it may be a practical part of your overall strategy. So, how do those puppy dog eyes positively impact a person’s health? Read on for four ways a four-legged friend may improve your overall wellbeing.

Get and stay active. There are few things to motivate someone to get off the couch and take a walk like a whining dog. Dog owners are more likely to meet fitness recommendations each week than a person that does not own a dog. Whether taking the pup for a walk, or stepping outside to toss a tennis ball, dogs motivate their owners to get active.

Reduce stress. Dog are trained to be therapy or service animals for a reason. They have been found to reduce anxiety and blood pressure and increase serotonin and dopamine (neurochemicals that boost your mood and overall wellbeing).  

Improve your mood. Dogs may even help keep depression at bay. In addition to increasing serotonin and dopamine, they provide structure and meaning to their owner’s life (as an owner, you must get up in the morning to walk or let your dog out), encourage socialization and prevent isolation and loneliness. For some, having the structure and companionship of a pooch can help protect against cognitive decline and depression.  

Benefits for kids. There is evidence that exposure to a pet at a young age may lower the risk of becoming allergic to animals later in life. Little ones may even develop a stronger immune system. Dogs also present an opportunity for children to learn about responsibility, empathy and independence.


While dogs provide several health benefits, there are also risks associated with having a dog in your home. Dogs and other pets cause a number of falls each year, especially for older adults or people with mobility issues. If you’re considering adopting a dog, chat with your doctor first.

Toy Buying Tips

Pediatrician-approved gifts for every child

The official kickoff to holiday shopping is just days away. Before you check-off your child’s wish list, check-out some pediatrician-approved gifts that every kid will love!

Pretend.

When a child is given the freedom to play without rules or guidelines, their imagination will take over. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said it best: “Pretending through toy characters (such as dolls, animals, and action figures) and toy objects (like food, utensils, cars, planes, and buildings) help children learn to use words and stories to imitate, describe, and cope with real life events and feelings. Imagination is the key here! Imaginary play is a large part of a child’s social and emotional development.”

Pretend Shopping List:

  • Play kitchen with accessories (food, utensils, plates, etc.)
  • Vehicles (diggers, cars, emergency vehicles, planes, etc.)
  • Dress-up clothing and accessories
  • Microphone
  • Chalk board

Assembly required.

A simple puzzle holds so many benefits for a young mind – problem-solving, fine motor, language and cognitive skills. Looks for age and developmentally appropriate building blocks, puzzles, train tracks.

Assembly Required Shopping List

  • Building Blocks
  • Puzzles
  • Train tracks
  • Magnet tiles

Art

It’s amazing to see what kids are capable of without restrictions. Consider give an art basket to build their creativity and fine motor skills.

Art Shopping List:

  • Crayons/Markers/Color Pencils
  • Age appropriate paints
  • For older children, encourage them to try new media like oil pastels, chalk pastels, ink, etc.
  • Blank sketch books (try different sizes, large and small)
  • Glue
  • Kid-friendly scissors
  • Clay
  • Art accessories: pipe cleaners, pom poms, tissue paper, stickers and anything else you can think of!

Skip the video games.

There are educational apps and video games that work to teach the ABCs, but what they are missing – creative thinking, emotional development and impulse control – are much more important factors in the healthy development of your child. According to the AMA, Research suggests tablet-based toys may actually delay social development for infants and young children, because they don’t include real life facial expressions, gestures, and vocalizations.

Skip the Video Games Shopping List:

  • Match games
  • Card games
  • Board games
  • Age and interest appropriate Books
  • Magazine subscription
  • Busy board with a variety of locks and latches

Play!

Especially in the winter months, getting physical activity is so important – for kids and grown-ups alike! Not only does it help to develop good habits for later in life, but being physically active also holds benefits for emotional health.

Play! Shopping List:

  • Hula hoop
  • Sports gear (football, baseball, basketball – choose based on what interests your child)
  • Twister
  • Indoor bowling set
  • Yoga mat paired with child appropriate exercise classes or DVDs
  • Roller blades (don’t forget the helmet and pads)
  • Gym shoes
  • Push and riding toys for little ones just walking

IHA Urgent Care locations are open on holidays! Don’t spend your holiday waiting in a waiting room. Save your spot in line at an Urgent Care location near you, and wait at home.

Fall Back (without falling apart)

Helping your child adjust to the time change

Even though we gain an hour in the fall time change, it can have an impact on sleep schedules for parents and children alike.  The sleep periods don’t move, but the time does. So, a child that normally sleeps from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am, will now come bouncing out of their room at 5:00 am. Ouch. What can you do to help your child (and yourself) adjust to daylight savings time? Start with these 4 steps:

  1. Adjust schedules.

Put your child to bed a half hour later than usual, to prepare for falling back an hour. For a teenager, time changes can be especially difficult. Encourage them to stick to their original schedule and get to be an hour earlier than the clock reads (at their original time). Also, clear your schedule the day after a time change to make the transition a little easier on everyone in your house.

2. Get ready to get up!

You know your little ones are going to be ready to roll an hour earlier than usual. Do yourself a favor, and get to sleep at your normal bedtime, so you are ready to roll when they are (or as ready as possible).

3. Be patient.

Gaining an hour is much easier than losing one, but we still feel a stress on our minds and bodies. Be patient with yourself and your kids.

4. Routines rule!

Kids do well with routines, especially when things are changing around them. Keep consistent and stick with your typical routine to help them adjust mentally and physically to their new schedule.

If you have concerns about your child’s sleep schedule, don’t lose sleep! Reach out to your pediatrician or pediatric provider for some help.

It’s easy to schedule an appointment with your pediatric provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your pediatric provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

Make An Appointment

Halloween Safety

Starting November 1st every year, most children begin their countdown to the next Halloween. And why wouldn’t they? Costumes! Candy! Late bedtimes! While there’s so much fun to be had, there are also safety concerns. Read on for safety reminders to ensure your Halloween night is delightful, not frightful.

  • Trick-or-treat in groups or individually with a trusted adult.
  • Be sure drivers can see you walking or crossing the street, Wear glow sticks or add some reflective tape to the costume.
  • Bring a flashlight along, so you can see where you’re going and avoid falling.
  • Walk. Don’t run.
  • Look both ways when crossing the street and use crosswalks when possible.
  • If you’re driving, go slow and keep your eyes open for trick-or-treaters.
  • An adult should look over the candy haul before anyone digs in. Factory wrapped treats are the safest. Homemade treats from strangers are not safe. Pay close attention to any ingredients that may trigger an allergic reaction.
  • Approach well-lit homes only, and never enter a stranger’s home.
  • Do not accept a ride from stranger. Ever.
  • If heading out in a group, plan the route ahead of time, and share it with a trusted adult.
  • Pumpkins are hard to carve, even for adults. Use a knife with a rounded tip and be sure a grown-up does the carving or oversees the activity.  
  • Use caution if candles are part of your décor. Look for fire-resistant costumes and place open flames in a safe spot (away from little hands, claws, paws…) Battery operated, or LED candles are the safest choice.
  • Accessories can make or break the costume. Be sure they are short, soft and flexible.
  • If makeup or face paint is part of you or your child’s costume, test it on a small part of your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin, before applying it on Halloween night.

If you’re faced with a Halloween boo boo or illness, don’t go batty. IHA Urgent Care locations are open late and are ready to treat you and your pumpkins.

Wait in line at home, click below to save your spot in an IHA Urgent Care close to you.

Save Your Spot

Flu Shot FAQs

What are the benefits of the flu vaccination?

Receiving the flu vaccines reduces flu illnesses, sick appointments or hospital stays, and missed time from work or school. It can also be life-saving for high risk patients like children or seniors.

Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?

The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. However, you may experience some minor side effects like, soreness, redness or swelling at the shot site, a low grade fever, and some aches.

For those that receive the nasal spray, the viruses are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness. Side effects from the nasal spray may include, runny nose, sore throat, cough, wheezing, headache, vomiting, muscle aches, or fever.

Who should get vaccinated this season?

Everyone six months of age and older should receive a flu vaccine at the beginning of the flu season, typically every fall.

Who should not be vaccinated against seasonal flu?

A patients age, health or allergies may determine they should not receive the flu vaccine. Talk with your physician to ensure you or your children should receive the flu vaccine.

Why should I get my child vaccinated?

The flu is dangerous for all people, but children under five years old are at an especially high risk when they get sick with the seasonal flu. The flu vaccine is your and your children’s best defense against contracted and spreading the flu.

When should I get a flu vaccine?

For people receiving one dose of the flu vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that people get the flu vaccine by the end of October. If your child requires two doses, they will need to be given four weeks apart, so chat with your pediatrician on the best time to give the first dose. Getting the vaccine in the summer months may result is reduced protection later in the flu season, especially for high risk patients.  There are benefits to receiving the flu vaccine later in the season, so it’s never too late to be vaccinated!

How effective is the flu vaccine?

The patient’s age and health status will determine the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, as well as how well the flu in the vaccine matches the flu circulating in your community. The CDC estimates that the flu vaccine reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population, when the seasonal flu circulating is well-matched with the flu vaccine. 

Besides vaccination, how can people protect themselves against the flu?

Getting the flu vaccine every year is your best defense against the flu. People should also take preventive actions every day. These include, frequently washing hands, covering coughs using the inside of your elbow, not your hand, and avoid having contact with people who are sick (even if they haven’t been diagnosed with the flu).

Where can I get the flu vaccine?

This year’s flu shot is available at IHA Primary Care practices and pediatric doses are available at IHA Pediatric practices. Adults and children may receive the flu shot at any IHA Urgent Care location. Click below to schedule your flu shot.

Schedule Your Flu Shot

Overloaded: Backpack Safety 101

Backpack safety blog post

Does your child pull their backpack off as soon as they step off the bus or out of school, and request that you carry it for them? As a rule, a child’s backpack should not weigh more than 10% – 15% of their body weight, but many kids are carrying bags much heavier than that. If your child is complaining of a sore back, they struggle to put their backpack on or they learn forward to walk once they get it on, their backpack is most likely too heavy. Read on for some tips to ensure they have the right backpack for their needs and their body type, and they are packing light.

Get the right backpack.

  • Discuss what will need to go in the backpack to ensure you get the right size
  • Your child’s backpack should not be wider than their torso
  • The backpack should not hang more than 4 inches below your child’s waist
  • Padded shoulder straps are a necessity
  • A padded back will help prevent objects from poking your child in the back
  • Waist and chest straps will help your child distribute the load of their backpack when it’s packed
  • Consider the weight of the backpack itself and choose one made of a lightweight material

Carry smart.

  • Two straps distribute the weight of the backpack evenly, be sure your child is using both
  • Adjust the straps to ensure a good fit for your child (remember the backpack should not hang more than 4 inches below the waist)
  • Help decide what should come home every day, and what can be left in their locker
  • When they must bring home a full pack, encourage your child to use their chest and waist straps
  • Pack the heaviest items on the bottom, and make use of the multiple compartments to better distribute the load

To ensure you child is carrying a sensible weight, pick up their backpack once in a while, or weigh it on the bathroom scale. Make adjustments as needed to help keep your child’s back in great shape!

If your child is complaining of pain that doesn’t go away, make an appointment with your child’s pediatric provider.  They’ve got your back!

It’s easy to schedule an appointment with your pediatric provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your pediatric provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

Make An Appointment

6 Tips to Prevent Mosquito Bites & Viruses

Don’t let the cooler weather fool you, mosquito season is not over. More than a pest, these buzzing insects can carry and spread dangerous diseases to both humans and animals. Here in Michigan, health officials are advising residents to take precautions after several residents became infected with the mosquito-borne virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). The only way to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses is to avoid being bitten by them.

Until the nighttime temperatures consistently fall below freezing, The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued the following recommendations to protect yourself and your family against mosquito bites:

  1. Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active
  2. Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors
  3. Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET or other EPA- approved product to exposed skin or clothing, always following the manufacturer’s directions for use
  4. Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas
  5. Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes out of buildings
  6. Empty water from mosquito breeding sites such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes lay eggs
    For those that work outdoors or cannot avoid being outdoors at dusk or dawn, be diligent about using insect repellent, and cover as much of your skin as possible.

If you’re concerned about or experiencing symptoms from a mosquito bite, reach out to your primary care physician: Make An Appointment

Or visit an Urgent Care location near you: Save Your Spot

Read the press release from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services: Michigan.gov/emergingdiseases

Frequently Asked Questions about Eastern Equine Encephalitis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/easternequineencephalitis/gen/qa.html

Think Outside the (Lunch) Box!

Think outside the lunch box

Sometimes school lunches can get boring – both for parents to make and for kids to eat. It’s pretty easy to fall into a lunch rut when packing lunch is just one of many tasks to check-off every morning. As you get ready to kick-off another school year, we’ve got the recipe to keep boring lunches at bay.


Include a note. Who doesn’t love a surprise? Wish your child good luck on a test, give them a pat on the back for a recent accomplishment, a note of encouragement or send a sweet message just because!


Use a fun lunch box. If the lunch box features your child’s favorite character or color they will enjoy bringing it to the table each day. Individual plastic containers are fun to fill and are a great tool to teach portion control, and keep things separated – Bento Box containers are a great option.


Ditch the same old PB&J and try something new. We’re not suggesting rolling sushi in the wee hours of the morning. Keep it simple. Here are some of our lunch-time favorites:
• Hummus with pita bread and veggies for dipping
• Turkey slices rolled around a red pepper strip and cheese stick
• Whole grain mini bagel with cream cheese and sliced strawberries
• Tuna (with the pop-off lid) with cucumber slices and whole grain crackers
• Kebabs:
o Meat (cooked) with cheese and veggies
o Pieces of granola bar with fruit
o Waffles and fried chicken
o Grape tomatoes with mozzarella and basil leaves (don’t forget the balsamic vinegar drizzle!)
• Whole grain cereal, yogurt and blueberries
• A sliced hard-boiled egg, Canadian bacon and cheese on a whole grain English muffin
• Leftovers from dinner or soup in a thermal container


Be cool. Use a cold pack to keep food fresh and safe. They even come in fun colors!


Create a weekly meal plan. Have your child help plan their lunches each week. The planning process will help understand healthy eating by including a variety of food groups as well as encourage your child to try new foods (fingers crossed!). Get your weekly school lunch planner template here.


If you have any concerns around your child’s eating habits, connect with your pediatric provider. They’ll give you some food for thought.

Make An Appointment

Busting Myths: Breastfeeding as a working mom

You’ve heard about the benefits of breastfeeding your baby. You know breast milk is best for your baby (the antibodies!). But let’s face it, returning to work after weeks of cozy breastfeeding sessions creates a lot of anxiety and pressure (pun intended) for mom. There’s so much information out there online and from every woman you know that’s ever had a baby. We’re here to breakdown some of the most common concerns around returning to work and continuing to provide breastmilk for your baby. Read on to learn how some common myths around breastfeeding while working are, well, busted.


Myth: Nursing less often will create more milk when I do nurse.
Actually, the more you nurse (or pump), the more milk you will produce. Your body is creating your milk supply based on demand. Feed your baby when they ask (in their own way), and your body will produce the milk they need. If you are returning to work, this will help in ensuring you are producing what your baby needs while pumping.


Myth: My baby won’t breastfeed once they get used to bottles.
You will always be your baby’s favorite way to get their milk. When your baby is with you, they will expect to be breastfeed. If your baby has a predictable feeding schedule, when you return to work ask your caregiver to hold-off on giving them a bottle close to your arrival, so you can breastfeed your baby when you return home. Also, be sure you drink plenty of fluids, avoiding caffeine and alcohol. Staying hydrated is important in general, but especially while breastfeeding.


Myth: I need a freezer full of milk to return to work.
Just when a new mom or dad feels like they are adjusting to life as parents, it’s typically time to return to work. For a mother who is breastfeeding, this transition can be especially difficult. A few weeks before your re-entry into the working world, start mixing some pumping and bottle feeding into your baby’s routine. This will help in two ways; your baby will get some practice with and be more willing to take a bottle and you will have some milk stored for backup. We recommend a minimum supply of two days’ worth of breastmilk for a smooth transition. As you pump at work, you will get into a rhythm of producing what your little one needs. You don’t need a freezer stocked full of milk in order to return to work.

Myth: I can’t breastfeed and pump at the same time.
There’s a balance between pumping and breastfeeding. Once you find it, your body will respond and produce the milk required. To start working pumping into your feeding schedule, pump between breastfeeding your baby. Pump about an hour AFTER you feed, and at least an hour BEFORE your baby’s next feeding. If you are returning to work, take note of when your baby typically eats, and pump based on that schedule. Continue to demand milk consistently and your body will get the signal to produce enough breast milk for your little one.


Myth: I will have to stop breastfeeding when I return to work.
Every mother has a legal right to take breaks from work to pump. That said, many women may still be anxious about taking this time. While you are pregnant and before you go on maternity leave, chat with your boss about a pumping schedule. That way, your boss will know what to expect upon your return and you will have some peace of mind knowing there is a plan in place to ensure you can continue to provide breast milk for your baby. Also, be sure to understand the accommodations available to you in the work place for pumping. Where is the room? Where will you store the milk you pump throughout the day? To get your questions answered, chat with a human resources rep or a colleague that recently transitioned from maternity leave and pumped at your office, to get your questions answered.


Myth: I won’t be successful at work if I have to stop and pump.
For a mother that wants to continue providing breast milk for her baby, taking the time to pump will create peace of mind, and allow you to be more focused when at your desk. You may even want to use the time you spend pumping to catch up on some emails, or read through an article or report that you can’t seem to work into your day while sitting at your desk. Some of your colleagues will understand when you excuse yourself a few times a day to pump, and others may not. The fact is, it’s your right to take time to pump during the work day, so try to focus on your baby and not the opinions of those around you. If you have concerns, talk to a manager or supervisor.


Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to take care of your baby, but it can be a struggle too. If you are feeling stressed about producing milk for your baby, make an appointment to chat with a provider. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to breastfeeding, and they can provide the support you need as you work through challenges that come with being a new mom.


It’s easy to schedule an appointment with your pediatric provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

Make An Appointment