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

HA 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.

Give Thanks

Create grateful hearts with a Family Thankful Jar

When we are consumed by the everyday hustle, it’s hard to stop and express gratitude to and for those around us. Thanksgiving presents the perfect opportunity to do just that. As the holiday approaches, consider making a family thankful jar to give everyone a chance to express what they are thankful for every day.

Here’s how you can make your own Family Thankful Jar:  

  1. Grab a jar, plastic container or old Easter basket. If they are up for it, have the kids decorate the jar.
  2. Cut up strips of paper & place near the jar with a pen
  3. Encourage the family to jot down a daily gratitude. If you have guests coming to dinner, have them add a note to the jar too!

Once Thanksgiving dinner is done, sit down together, open the jar and read through the notes of gratitude. Taking the time to appreciate each other can have an amazing impact on family dynamics. Thanksgiving is a reason to get started but continue to model and encourage gratitude all year long. Make opening your gratitude jar a monthly event, or have everyone express one gratitude at the end of each day.


IHA Urgent Care locations are open on Thanksgiving! 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.

Take 2: Type 2 Diabetes

Take a proactive approach to preventing Type 2 Diabetes.

Author: Tendai Thomas, MD, FACP

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects one in ten Americans today. Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar levels are too high. In normal circumstances, your pancreas is able to produce a hormone called insulin which regulates and maintains normal blood sugar levels. However, with diabetes, this process breaks down, causing blood sugar levels to rise to concerning levels. Diabetics have problems with high blood sugars due to a lack of insulin, or because their body does not know how to use insulin well.  It is important to either avoid developing diabetes or keep your diabetes well controlled because diabetes increases your risk for several other conditions including heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease, vision loss, nerve damage, and circulation problems.

There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes often occurs in young individuals when the immune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Subsequently, Type 1 diabetics need to take insulin every day to stay alive. Type 2 diabetes, which is much more common, tends to occur at an older age. Ninety percent of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. These individuals produce insulin from the pancreas, but it is not used effectively to regulate blood sugar levels.

The top 7 risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include:

  1. Obesity
  2. Sedentary lifestyle (lack of physical activity or exercise)
  3. Unhealthy eating habits
  4. A family history of diabetes
  5. Increased age
  6. Hypertension and high cholesterol
  7. Diabetes during pregnancy

If you are at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes, there are some steps you can take to delay or even prevent the diagnosis.

Start by knowing your risk level. Take this quiz from the American Diabetes Association to find out where you stand: https://www.diabetes.org/risk-test

Lose weight and keep it off. Maintaining a healthy weight is an important factor preventing diabetes. Losing 5% – 10% of your body weight can make a big difference in reducing your risk of getting the disease. Once you achieve your weight loss goals, work to keep the weight off. 

Stick to a healthy eating plan. Reducing your daily calorie, carbohydrate and sugar intake is key to weight loss. Consume smaller portions at every meal, eat less processed and simple sugar filled foods, and avoid drinks high in sugar. Remember your food groups when meal planning for the week. A healthy diet includes a variety of foods from every group!

Exercise 5 days a week. Exercise provides many benefits to your health. Make a goal to get 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. You can also consider obtaining an exercise partner to help keep you focused and on target. If exercise hasn’t been a part of your routine, talk to your physician for ideas to start slowly and work towards your goal.  

Don’t smoke. Smoking can contribute to insulin resistance and many other health conditions related to diabetes. If you do smoke, please talk with your doctor about different approaches you can take that will help you quit.

Go at your own pace. When we make major changes to our diet or activity level, it’s easy to get frustrated along the way. Go slowly and create goals that are realistic for you and your body. Start with small steps and small changes and work your way up! 

Keep your physician in the loop. Make an appointment to discuss your concerns with your primary care physician. They will help determine what else you can do to reduce your risk for Diabetes, and if you have already been diagnosed, they can help prescribe and manage any medications necessary to keep you feeling your best!

If you have already been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, there are several treatments for managing your diabetes. For all individuals, nutrition is the key element for managing diabetes. In addition, since most people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are overweight, lifestyle changes that include regular exercise and weight loss are extremely important. Other therapies include the use of oral medications, injectables, and insulin administration. Talk to your primary care physician to find the best treatment for you.

Make An Appointment

Winterize Your Skin

Cracking down on dry hands.

Winter is just around the corner, and with it come fun winter sports, cozy sweaters, and a great excuse to stay inside and watch a movie. The not-so-fun side of winter includes dry and cracked skin on your hands.  The skin on your hands is thinner and has few oil glands than the rest of your body, so we’ve got some tips to help you be extra kind to your hands during the winter months.

  1. Dust off the humidifier. When the heat comes on, the skin dries out. To help replace some of the moisture in the air, pull the humidifier out of the closet and fill ‘er up!
  2. A lot of moisturizer. We wash our hands more in the winter months to avoid illnesses, and that coupled with the cold weather is hard on your skin. To avoid cracked skin on your hands, keep bottle of moisturizer on your sink, and apply lotion every time you wash your hands. Keep another tube of moisturizer in your car or with you in a work bag or purse and apply several times a day.
  3. Bundle up! Whether you prefer gloves or mittens, get a pair that you will wear, and protect the  skin on your hands from harsh temperatures and cold surfaces.
  4. Avoid super hot water. There are few things more comforting than a hot shower after being out in the cold, but super hot water actually dehydrates your skin. Keep your shower temperature on the warm side and buy a fancy pair of rubber gloves for doing the dishes.
  5. Know when to seek help. If you are diligent about skincare, but you can’t seem to stop the peeling or cracking, it may be time to see a professional. Persistent dryness could be a sign of a health condition like eczema, psoriasis or even an allergic reaction. Sometimes store-bought moisturizers won’t do the trick, so you may need to take a different approach to treating your dry skin.

It’s easy to schedule an appointment with your 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

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

Work + Life: The Juggle is Real

Finding a balance between work and life is one thing. Throw school in there, sports team practice, a science fair project, a growth spurt that requires new shoes that are only available at the store across town, and you have a perfect recipe for physical and mental burnout. Burnout can leave you feeling exhausted, drained, or even physically ill. You can’t always eliminate the stress from a busy schedule or workday, but you can learn to manage it.

Start by asking yourself: What needs to be done? Look at your task list and separate what truly must be done from less critical tasks. Things like work tasks, school events and appointments are not negotiable, while others may be. Sort through your to-do list and eliminate low-priority tasks where you can.

Create a shared family calendar. Whether you like a paper calendar stuck to the fridge, or you’re a digital family, there are templates and tools for everyone. Get upcoming events listed in one place, so everyone knows where they are supposed to be.


Wherever you are, be there. “Be present” is a trendy phrase that we hear a lot these days. But, it’s hard not to look at the 5 notifications that just popped up on your phone. When possible, set your device aside and focus your attention on what is happening around you. Maybe it’s dedicated time to play with your child or have a conversation with your spouse or a good friend. Making a conscious effort to focus on one task or person at a time will help clear the clouds of stress.


Make time for your family.
So many evenings are spent rushing to practices, classes or events, and dinners are consumed during the car ride. Try to find time each week to eat together as a family. Institute a family game night, a bike ride, or maybe a family meeting. Find ways that your family can be together enjoying each other without interruption or distraction (see point above). Ultimately those closest to you will be your front lines of support, so a weekly check-in will help catch when anyone is starting to succumb to stress.


Make time for yourself. The best way to work time for yourself into your schedule? Schedule it! Be creative (Paint! Garden! Journal!), eat a healthy diet avoiding sugar, caffeine, and carbs, have dinner with friends. Think about what truly brings joy into your life and make time for it.
Feel the burn! (Not the burnout). Exercise is one of the best ways to eliminate stress. That doesn’t mean you have to make it to a 5 AM barre class. A 10-minute walk can boost your mood and outlook for 2 hours! Find ways to work exercise into your daily routine, even if it means stretching on the sidelines at soccer practice.


Know when it’s time to ask for help. Burnout can happen at home or at work. Learn to recognize when stress is taking over, and you need help. Then ask for it. Burnout isn’t one size fits all. It can look and feel different for everyone. You may start to feel exhausted, moody or withdrawn. You may not remember what you had for lunch or where you are going when you leave the house. You may start to notice muscle pain from clenching or grinding your teeth.
If you are feeling the symptoms of burnout, seek support from those around you before you reach your breaking point. We’re here to help, too. Reach out to your primary care provider, they will help you extinguish burnout and feel like yourself again.

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

Make An Appointment