As summer temperatures rise and those glorious night breezes fail to blow, it’s easy for babies and young children to overheat while sleeping. Here are five tips to help keep your tots cool at night:
1) Banish sun — Draw blinds or curtains during the day to block out heat generated by the sun.
2) Let in air — Open all windows in the evening to create cross ventilation. Place a block of ice in a shallow dish in front of a fan to circulate cool air throughout the room (but turn the fan off before putting baby to sleep). Also try hanging wet towels over the room’s open window because evaporating water can cool the air.
3) Remove extras — Strip the bedding to a sheet only. For infants who don’t move around a lot, you also can remove the crib bumper pad to allow air to circulate better. Let baby sleep in just a diaper.
4) Lower body temp — Run cold water over baby’s wrists and ankles, especially when they are sweating or appear overheated. Bath them before bed in lukewarm water.
5) Add cool extras — Try a cool mist humidifier or ice pack teddy bear for use while baby sleeps. Holmes Cool Mist Humidifiers sell for about $30 to $50. Stephan Baby offers a Boo Bear ($7) stuffed teddy bear with an attached compartment for ice cubes or an ice pack.
— Ann Tatko-Peterson
Year-round basketball? Swimming seven days a week, month after month? Your kid may be courting an overuse injury, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. Basically, it’s a repetitive stress injury gone bad, and kids are particularly susceptible because their growing bones cannot handle as much stress as adult bones. Young athletes should limit single sport training to no more than five days a week, and take at least one day to just relax, says the AAP. So, if you run five days a week and want to swim on the sixth, that’s fine, but on the seventh day, thou shalt make like a couch potato. And kids who do a single sport year round need to take two or three months off per year. The focus should be on lifelong fitness and fun, docs say, not breeding Olympians. (Reality is, less than 1 percent of high school athletes break into professional sports.) For more information on preventing sports injuries, click here.
— Jackie Burrell
Word on the street is … “squid,” “ticklish” and – you’ll have to shriek this enthusiastically if you want to sound like Rachael Ray on the new season of “Sesame Street” – “pumpernickel!” Elmo and the gang return to the airwaves August 13 for the Muppets’ 38th season and frankly, we can’t wait to see the lineup of funny words, celebrity guests and parodies. “RSI: Rhyme Scene Investigation” ? James Blunt? And our beloved Ernie? Truth to tell, when we scour YouTube for entertainment, it’s sometimes just to get a retro blast of Ernie and his rubber ducky or teeny little super guy … or to find some novelty riff, such as a beat-boxing flutist playing the theme song. Or better yet, a sneak peek at the new season with James Blunt singing about his beautiful … well, you’ll see.
When it comes to parental leave, apparently you’d be better off having a baby in Slovenia, Cuba or South Korea. And if you’re a dad — move to Japan. According to a National Geographic survey, 163 out of 168 countries offer federally-guaranteed paid leave to new mothers so they can stay home and care for their newborns. Guess which group the United States falls into? Yup, it’s one of the five that don’t, along with Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland and Australia. The latter provides no funds, but at least guarantees a year of unpaid leave. The U.S., by contrast, offers 12 weeks of unpaid leave. In other words, your job will be waiting for you and, er, good luck with that rent.
California enacted a paid family leave law in 2002 to provide women, who have paid into the state’s temporary disability insurance fund, with a partial salary (up to 55 percent) for up to six weeks, and many employers make up the difference. But it’s enlightening to look at other countries’ policies …
D’oh! If you’re pondering that PG-13 rating and wondering if it’s suitable for kids, Times movie critic Mary Pols says the dialogue is “clean enough for network television. We do get a brief glimpse of Bart’s standard little boy privates, but that’s about as racy as it gets.” Common Sense Media agrees — if your child watches “The Simpsons” at home, then the movie will be fine. Plus, you’ll witness the spectacle of Homer acting “selflessly for the first time, well, ever.”
“The Simpsons” isn’t the only flick in town, of course, and cineplexes aren’t the only places to see movies. Catch “Willy Wonka” outdoors at Walnut Creek’s Heather Farm on Aug. 7, “The Sandlot” at Livermore’s Wente Vineyards on Aug. 6, and more — get the complete rundown in Ann Tatko’s article, “Now Playing at a Park Near You.”
— Jackie Burrell
Doctors say 80 percent of harmful sun exposure happens before age 18, and that it only takes two really bad sunburns to increase one’s chances of developing skin cancer later in life. (And yeah, we’re wincing as we recall our teenage days, slathering on tanning butter. You too?)
Now, we’ve seen toddler-sized, itty-bitty, polka-dotted bikinis in stores – and our colleagues at the Arizona Republic say they actually spotted string bikinis for 1-year-olds – but we’re relieved to report that more and more tots at our neighborhood pool have started wearing surf-style rash guards. These short-sleeved, lycra swim shirts block 97 percent of the UV rays, kinda like an SPF 150 sunscreen. If you’d like to follow suit, Body Glove, O’Neill and all the other surf and dive wear companies make them in adult and children’s sizes. The superman suit pictured here is by SunSmart and comes with a towel cape ($35 for the whole ensemble, $25 for a long-sleeved shirt only, Dora the Explorer and Supergirl designs too).
— Jackie Burrell
Campouts, s’mores and hokey songs — could there be any sweeter, cheaper family adventure? Whether it’s a backyard overnight or a week in Yosemite’s backcountry, camping gets folks outside, communing with nature and with each other. The East Bay parks offer some great experiences for first timers. You can even book your tent site online. And “Campout,” Lynn Brunelle’s new book provides just the inspiration and practical know-how for an instant vacation.
Explain this one: the technology for child seat reminder alarms has existed for five years; yet, they are still not available on the market. Why? These sensors would alert parents if they accidentally left their child in the car. It seems like a must-have, better-safe-than-sorry safety feature for car seats, especially in the wake of Wednesday’s death of an 11-month-old Benicia boy. The child died when he was enclosed in a car after his father forgot to drop him at daycare and went on to work.
Sara Steffens’ follow-up article in today’s Times provides details about alarms that could help prevent these tragedies.
Terrill Struttmann, founder of the Missouri-based advocacy group Kids In Cars, said people periodically contact him about child-reminder alarms they’ve invented.
“The problem they run into is marketing this product,” he said. “If a parent is in a Babies R Us and sees it, it’s going to be that false sense of security: ‘I would never forget my child.'”
Isn’t it better to guard against a remote possibility than to live the rest of your life with regret if the unthinkable happens? What would you do? Take our poll and find out whether other parents would consider buying a reminder alarm.
— Ann Tatko-Peterson
Monk” is family-friendly programming. At least that’s what one viewer wrote in “Cheers & Jeers” in TV Guide’s latest issue. The mom likes the USA Network comedy starring Tony Shalub as a quirky private detective because it’s a show she can watch with her children. Which got us to thinking — what shows are great for the whole family?
In my house, re-runs of “Everybody Loves Raymond” usually entertain us over dinner. Occasionally the subject matter is a little mature for my 10-year-old stepdaughter, but more often it’s just lighthearted comedy with family at its core. Sort of like the good old days when “The Cosby Show” and “The Waltons” were must-see for everyone.
So where, outside of Nickelodean and the Disney Channel, can we find the best family viewing? You tell us. Which shows do you like to watch with your elementary and/or middle school children and why? Either post a comment or e-mail us with your response.
— Ann Tatko-Peterson
A Benicia father was arrested Wednesday night for the death of his 11-month-old son. The child was left alone in the car for several hours when his father forgot to drop him at the daycare center and went on to work. Children dying when left alone in a car is a rare occurence — 15 small children have died in the United States so far this year — but that it happens at all makes it an important one to address.