Thanks to our partners at Essentia Health for sponsoring this helpful article!
Schools out, summer activities are in full swing, the sun is out and the weather is hot. What do you need to know to keep your kids healthy this summer? Dr. Jaclyn Held, a pediatrician at Essentia Health, shares a few of her top safety priorities for summer!
“All kids need sunscreen,” Dr. Held explains. “If your child is going to be outside for more than 20 minutes, they need sunscreen.” Be sure to pick a broad-spectrum (meaning it blocks both UVA and UVB rays) that is a high SPF to protect skin.
Sunscreen is best when applied 15-30 minutes before exposure and reapplied every few hours, but more often if sweating or in the water.
“Decisions you make today can affect your child much later in life,” Dr. Held says. Skin cancers are commonly caused by previous sunburns.
Fargo Mom Favorite: Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids
Bugs & Ticks
When kids are going to be outside and potentially bitten by mosquitoes, bug spray is imperative to protect them from bug bites and the potential disease bugs could carry. “DEET formulas really are the best option,” Dr. Held recommends. If you find a bug bite that is hot to the touch, oozing or looks like it has pus, have it looked at by a medical professional.
Our area is also prone to ticks. The best defense is to wear socks and shoes, long sleeves and long pants so that the tick cannot imbed itself into the skin. Also, be sure to do a once over before you go inside if you’ve been out in tall grass, woods or other areas ticks may be found.
“If you do find a tick, the best way to remove it is to pull it straight up and off the skin,” recommends Dr. Held. “Other ways of removing a tick may, in fact, scare the tick, making them more likely to regurgitate their intestinal tract into you and that makes it more likely that you’ll get whatever disease the tick might be carrying.”
Classic Lyme’s disease looks like a bullseye mark at the bite site, although it could be a variation of this as well. The longer the tick is on you, the higher your chance of contracting Lyme’s disease.
Fargo Mom Favorite: Off Family Care Bug Spray
Hydration is incredibly important during the summer months to keep kids healthy. You need to stay hydrated when the weather is hot or you are busy with activity. The body loses liquid through normal respirations and even more when the temperatures rise or the body is being exerted.
“If children are going to be doing an activity where they will sweat for an hour or more, it’s important to drink sports drinks in addition to water to replace what the body is losing,” Dr. Held says. “Too much sports drink will cause issues, however. Sports drinks have a fair amount of sugar in them and too much often causes side effects such as diarrhea.”
Water is best for hydration.
Fargo Mom Favorite: Camelbak Kids Eddy Insulated Water Bottle
Water is a focal point of many summertime activities. Children should be supervised at all times when they are playing in or around water or swimming. “Don’t let your child out of your sight and keep them within arm’s reach when they are in the water,” Dr. Held recommends. “And, if needed, use life vests rather than arm bands, which do not keep a child’s head above water or can slip off.”
Fargo Mom Favorite: Speedo Kids Life Vest
“Keeping your kids involved in some kind of academics over the summer is recommended,” explains Dr. Held. “Studies have shown that kids lose 20-30% of what they learned the previous year and that number goes up the older the student is.”
Whether it’s reading together, doing a couple of worksheets each day or simple math problems throughout the day, don’t try to cram in a summer of learning in the last couple of weeks before school.
Fargo Mom Favorite: Dragon Box and Teach Your Monster to Read
“Sleep hygiene is a real thing,” Dr. Held explains. “It’s the term used to describe healthy sleep habits or behaviors you can practice that may improve your ability to fall asleep and remain asleep through the night.” You can train your brain to follow a certain routine, such as brushing teeth and get pajamas on and the brain knows to release sleep hormones.
Ideally, Dr. Held recommends staying as close to a normal sleep schedule year-round. “An hour or two is acceptable, but more than that will undo all the sleep hygiene training you’ve done the rest of the year.” In addition, it’s advised to start developing the back-to-school routine about two weeks before school.
This becomes even more important in the teenage years when the brain is wired to be up all hours of the night and sleep away the day, opposite the school day.
Fargo Mom Favorite: Hatch Sound Machine, Night Light, & Time to Rise
Well Child Exams and Immunizations
If you delayed any well-child visits or immunizations due to COVID, now is the perfect time to get back on schedule. Looking ahead to the sports season, make your sports physical appointments sooner rather than later for a time that’s most convenient for you.
Essentia Health has made many adjustments to the way care is provided to ensure the safety of our patients and staff.
Pediatrics at Essentia Health
Pediatric walk-in care is also available, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday at the Essentia Health-South University Clinic, 1702 S University Dr., Fargo.