Fall 2014 Health Link Online

HealthLink Online

Uniting Children, Parents, Caregivers, and Health Professionals

Pennsylvania is using a new set of Learning Standards for early learning programs. They align with the state’s Core Standards for education. Safety, physical and social-emotional (behavioral) health are included.

Programs must be sure children feel safe. They must help children develop the skills essential for building respectful relationships. The learning environment must be both physically and emotionally safe. Children must be comfortable and free from danger.

Programs must not only prevent harm. They must promote child safety and health. The learning standards include both physical and social-emotional wellbeing. They specifically target the promotion of a proper diet, exercise and healthy habits.

ECELS offers workshops and self-learning modules that address safety, physical and behavioral health.  ECELS contributed to or developed these three health and safety resources used in the learning standards: Caring for Our Children, National Health and Safety Performance Standards, 3rd edition at www.nrckids.org Model Child Care Health Policies, 5th edition found in the Publications tab on the ECELS website at www.ecels-healthychildcarepa.org Healthy Young Children, 5th edition, available from the National Association for the Education of Young Children at www.naeyc.org.

Hand washing at a sink is best practice for hand hygiene in child care. What about hand hygiene for children who are too heavy to hold at the sink and cannot stand at the sink even with a step stool? 

Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools, 3rd Edition and Model Child Care Health Policies, 5th Edition offers a three paper towel method to use if hand washing at a sink is not possible.  

  1. Wipe the child’s hands with a damp paper towel moistened with a drop of liquid soap.
  2. Wipe the child’s hands with a second paper towel wet with clear water.
  3. Dry the child’s hands with a third paper towel.

Research shows that reading with young children fosters brain development and helps build strong adult-child relationships. Both pediatricians and early educators are encouraging early literacy activities. Families learn from them that reading to very young children builds lifelong language, literacy and social-emotional skills. 

In a 2014 policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urged reading aloud to young children.  The AAP says that this routine should start with infants and continue at least through kindergarten age.  The activities should include language-rich use of books, pictures and written words.

Swaddling is the practice of wrapping an infant tightly.  Many cultures have used it.  Swaddling may decrease crying and increase sleep periods. However there are two types of risks to consider.  One is the increased risk of sleep-related deaths, such as SIDS. The risk of SIDS increases three ways: The blanket can loosen and cover the child’s face.  The swaddled infant might roll from back to stomach. Also, the infant is more likely to overheat when swaddled. 

A second risk is that swaddling is associated with a serious hip deformity called developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). DDH is a condition that occurs when the hip fails to develop properly. This causes long term hip joint problems.  Development of normal hip joints requires being able to bend up and out at the hips. Swaddling keeps the hips from freely bending up and out.

A free online course is available as a collaborative effort of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The course  educates staff who work in Head Start and other early education and child care programs about influenza policies and strategies that help keep children healthy. Upon completion of the course, learners will be able to recognize the symptoms of influenza; explain how influenza is spread; discuss the importance of annual seasonal influenza immunization with parents and peers; and much more.

This course certificate from the AAP confirms 1.0 contact hour of professional development. To enroll in the course, go to http://www.healthychildcare.org/flu.html. To waive the fee, be sure to use the promo code FLUPREVENTION.