The American Academy of Pediatrics Parenting website has many COVID-19 resources to support families.  These include: Parenting in a Pandemic; Working and Learning; Getting Outside; Masks for Kids; New Baby Challenges; Disinfectant Safety and Breastfeeding.  7/2021

Children need active play opportunities to be healthy and able to learn. It doesn’t just happen. A quality curriculum provides opportunities for active play. ECELS suggests combining physical activity with other learning objectives. For example, children use math when they count the times they skip, jump, or toss a ball.

Plan more time outdoors. Children do more moderate to vigorous physical activity outdoors than indoors.  Caring for Our Children Standard 3.1.3.1 for physical activity says that all children, birth to six years should participate daily in 2-3 occasions of active play outdoors. Toddlers and preschoolers should have two or more structured or teacher-led activities or games that promote movement over the course of an 8 hour day, indoors or outdoors. Use these guidelines to plan physical activity for each age group:

  • Infants: tummy time divided into periods the infant will tolerate. At other times, infants should have opportunities to roll, kick, reach for toys, and practice motions needed to crawl, stand, sit and walk.
  • Toddlers: 60 to 90 minutes of moderate to vigorous play per 8 hour day. Examples:  access to riding toys, balls, tunnels and low climbers.
  • Preschoolers: 90 to 120 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per 8 hour day. Examples: free space to jump, dance, and dig, riding toys, balls to throw and chase, rocking boats, stairs and hills to climb, hopscotch, ribbons and hoops to twirl, and sweeping.
  • School Age Children: Keep everyone moving and having fun most of the time. Examples: skip, jog, climb structures/stairs/hills, ride scooters, throw/catch, run, jump rope, play hopscotch, go through an obstacle course, dig, or rake.

For more about active play, use the ECELS Active Play Webinar or recorded webinars about this topic at http://www.ecels-healthychildcarepa.org  Reviewed and reaffirmed 7/2021

Properly functioning Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems reduce health problems. They dilute infectious particles in the air, so people in the facility don’t get sick easily. Good ventilation controls odors and reduce pollutants. They also remove dust and dirt, keeping the facility cleaner.

Anaphylaxis is a sudden and dangerous body reaction that involves two or more organ systems. An allergy to some substance such as a certain food, insect bite, latex or medication causes the reaction. This may be something that has or has not caused any symptoms in the past. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening medical emergency. Waiting to get to an emergency room can be fatal.

Easter Seals is offering a free online version of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) developmental screening tool. Both parents and child care providers can use the ASQ to track children's development through age five. The tool can identify concerns for which children should receive appropriate services to be ready to enter K-12 school. The ASQ online does not include the component that evaluates behavior. However, it is widely accepted for basic screening. Many Keystone STARS programs are using a version of the ASQ now.

 Asthma is one of most common chronic illnesses among children in the United States. Most people know at least one child with asthma. Asthma is different for each child, so it’s important to know each child’s triggers, symptoms, and treatment plan. Changes in the seasons as well as an increase of allergens in our environment can cause an increase in asthma symptoms. Symptoms range from mild coughing or wheezing to chest tightness, sometimes causing shortness of breath, or worse – a severe asthma attack. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Learn More Breathe Better national health education program provides information and resources on asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and other lung diseases and conditions to those who are managing these diseases, their caregivers and the health care providers who help treat them.

What is Asthma?

Reducing Allergens in your home

Monitoring your Asthma

Asthma Action Plan

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Many children in child care need assistance with managing their asthma (even during COVID). Here is a good resource for those who care for children in early learning settings - Caring for Children with Asthma during the COVID-19 Pandemic Updated 7/2021

Many early education and child care professionals have heard reports about bed bug infestations in children's homes. Many fear the bugs will infest the program's facility. Learn about bed bugs and the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to control of this bug.  Lyn Garling, Manager of Programs, PA IPM Program, Penn State University contributed the following expert content and links to credentialed websites where you can learn more. Handouts are available in English and Spanish.

Good health includes social, emotional, and behavioral wellness. Use approaches to support positive behavior in young children. This will encourage wellness for all children in your care. Teach children appropriate ways to manage their own behavior. The goal is to teach and guide children, not to punish. Strategies include using clear rules and supportive language. Offering alternatives to undesirable behavior and natural consequences are excellent options.
Common challenging behaviors in child care can include biting, defiance, and tantrums. Some behaviors persist and raise concerns. The child may not respond to appropriate positive interventions. Persistent difficult behaviors may include excess anger, aggression, and social withdrawal. What steps should be taken?

Many electronic toys, musical/talking books, mini remote controls, singing greeting cards and other electronics are in homes and early learning and child care programs.  Inside the battery compartment of these items are button-size, lithium batteries that can cause serious injuries when swallowed.  These batteries can get stuck in a child’s throat.  Saliva triggers an electrical current that causes a chemical reaction that can severely burn the esophagus (food tube) in as little as two hours.  Children under the age of 4 years old are at highest risk for the injury.  In 2010 alone, more than 3,400 button battery swallowing cases were reported in the U.S., resulting in 19 serious injuries and in some cases, deaths. To learn more, view the 2 minute video from The Battery Controlled, a campaign supported by Energizer® and Safe Kids Worldwide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaUzbUb1NSI.  

Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for children 4 years and older. The AAP updated the Child Passenger Safety policy statement and technical report based on new evidence gathered over the past 10 years. The documents will be published in the November issue of Pediatrics (2018). The updated guidance advises children to ride rear-facing as long as possible. Two years of age is no longer a specific age criterion when a child changes from a rear- to a forward-facing car safety seat. View the AAP article at http://www.aappublications.org/news/2018/08/30/passengersafety083018

Angela Osterhuber, Ed.M., Director, PA Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics, PA Traffic Injury Prevention Project (TIPP) offers this advice:
• Secure infants and toddlers in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat. In Pennsylvania, children younger than two years must be secured in a rear-facing car seat.
• Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat that has an active passenger-side front air bag. If the airbag inflates, it will hit the back of the car seat, right where the baby's head rests, and could cause serious injury or death. 

Do you know someone buying a car seat? Want to know the best one?

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The best car seat is the one that fits the child, fits the vehicle, and the caregiver can use it correctly every time. See details in the "Gift Giving Guide for Car Seats." The many products sold as car seat accessories that are non-approved products, which are not recommended by car seat manufacturers, are addressed. Counterfeit car seats are being advertised and sold online and are found on many ecommerce platforms. These car seats do not meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 (FMVSS 213) and are potentially dangerous for children. For more information, read “Counterfeit Car Seats." Reviewed and reaffirmed 7/2021

Choking is a common cause of Emergency Room visits for young children. Nearly two thirds of choking episodes are associated with foods. Choking on food causes the death of approximately one child in the United States every 5 days. Hot dogs account for 17% of choking episodes related to food. Hard candy, peanuts, whole grapes, raw carrots, apples, popcorn, chunks of peanut butter marshmallows, chewing gum and sausages cause choking too. Of non-food causes of choking, latex balloons are leading trouble-makers. In addition to balloons, small, round or cylindrical toys can block small air tubes.

Follow these steps to make sanitizing and disinfecting easy.

First – any surface must be visibly clean. Use a detergent and water solution. Then rinse with water.
Second – which product to choose?
• Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – registered products for sanitizing and disinfecting.
• Most bleach products now sold in retail stores are EPA-registered. There is no longer a standard bleach:water ratio or standard length of time a solution must remain in contact with a surface, such as those outlined in the PA Position Statements (July, 2018).

The EPA has a Safer Choice label program available at www2.epa.gov/saferchoice This label will help consumers find safer cleaning products. Manufacturers can use the new label only if the EPA Scientists determine that every ingredient in the product is safe for humans and pets, meets environmental standards, and cleans well. Look for the label when purchasing products for your early care and education program.  Also, you can search online for products that meet the Safer Choice Standard at http://www2.epa.gov/saferchoice/products Reviewed and reaffirmed 7/2021

Colds, coughs and runny noses are more common in the winter than in any other season. Poor circulation of air, dry heated air and crowded indoor spaces make it easier to share germs. Children in their first couple of years of child care or school have one or two more colds than children their age who receive care only at home and who have no siblings to bring infection home. After three years of child care, children in child care have fewer colds than those who have not had the opportunity to build their immunity in group care.