Summer 2016 Health Link Online

HealthLink Online

Uniting Children, Parents, Caregivers, and Health Professionals

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Thskin of infants and toddlers is more sensitive to ultraviolet radiation. Their skin absorbs chemicals more easily than the skin of adults and older children. Sun exposure can cause unhealthy changes in the skin, including the skin of infants and toddlers. The ultraviolet radiation that damages skin is UVA and UVB. Children should spend a lot of time outdoors. Protecting their skin from sun damage is very important.

No matter what type or tone of skin a person has, from infancy to old age, everyone should have protection from sun exposure. Sun screen products and sun protective clothing help prevent sunburn, skin cancer and early skin aging throughout life. The best protection is wearing light weight, tightly-woven sun-protective hats and clothing outside. Combine wearing sun protective clothing with wearing sun screen, except that children less than 6 months of age should not have sunscreen products on their skin.

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Elizabeth Wakelee, director of a Bucks County child care center took the Child Care Health Advocate course at Northampton Community College in the spring 2016 term. She shared with her classmates the reminder about safe shoes that her center posts where families check in their children. Elizabeth says it works. ECELS is sharing the text of Elizabeth’s helpful reminder in this issue of Health Link Online. We left out brand names of unacceptable shoes. We’re pretty sure that you know them. Click on "Read More" to see Elizabeth's safe shoe notice.

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Providing drinking water to children is a powerful way to promote healthy weight. Recent research done in New York City found that children consume less flavored sweetened milks when water is accessible to them where they eat. They are more likely to have a healthy weight than children in facilities that lack easy access to drinking water.

Water fountains may cause problems. Many have mechanisms that are hard for young children to use. Difficulty providing water fountain maintenance throughout the day results in poor water quality, bad taste, and lack of sanitation. Make sanitary drinking water easily accessible where children are in care.

The research was reported in the March 2016 issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has updated the nutrition standards for the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Under the new standards, meals and snacks will include a greater variety of vegetables and fruit, more whole grains, less added sugar and less saturated fat. The standards encourage breastfeeding. In addition, they align better with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and with other Child Nutrition Programs. 

CACFP centers and child care homes must comply with the new meal standards by October 1, 2017. The new standards are easy to meet and don’t cost more. Use the free resources on the USDA webpages. They include fun and easy ways centers and family child care homes can meet the new standards. Many are available in English and Spanish.

  • Look at nutrition and wellness tips, feeding infants, and sourcing of locally produced foods.  
  • Be sure to visit Let’s Move! Child Care for more tips and ideas to support healthy eating in your program. These include nurturing healthy eaters, providing healthy beverages, and supporting breastfeeding.   
  • Download easy menus and recipes for meals and snacks. Look for the Healthy Meals Resources System of Team Nutrition/USDA.
  • Look at the USDA lists of seasonal produce for summer, fall, winter and spring. Plan to try items you have not tried before. Buying them in season is good nutrition. It’s likely to be easy on budgets too. Lists of seasonal produce are at
  • Print out the free book to read to young children, The Two Bite Club. The back of the book has a blank MyPlate certificate for members of the Two Bite Club, fun activity pages for children, and Tips for Growing Healthy Eaters. Share these materials and suggestions with families so they can offer healthy meals at home. The link to the Two Bite Club is


Be a cheerleader for healthy habits. It’s never too early for adults to set an example. Children follow what the adults around them do — in everyday routines and at parties. Make healthy habits part of your celebrations. Food and beverages may be part of an event, but they do not have to be the center of the occasion. Focus on activities to get everyone moving and enjoying being together.

Party menu options: Add a slice of fruit to water as the party beverage. Offer whole-grain crackers and veggies with a tray of small cups of yogurt dip. Make fruit kabobs, with eye-catching fruits of different colors. Layer yogurt and fruit to create a sweet parfait in clear cups.

Make moving part of every event. Being physically active makes everyone feel good. Plan for dancing, hopping, skipping, jumping, playing tag or relay races, tossing balls or bean bags in big boxes, pretending to be an active animal and playing other active games. Wiggling, and giggling are fun at any gathering.  A field trip to the zoo, a museum or a park can make a celebration special.

Bring healthy snacks. Make the activities and experiences on the field trip the focus of the celebration.

Ask for parent volunteers to help with set-up, leading games and cleaning up. Be sure they get a chance to participate, see, remember and, hopefully, provide healthy celebrations. Take and display photos at these parties. Planning and remembering good parties doubles the fun for staff, children and parents.

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