Health Capsules

ECELS offers brief articles to insert into parent and staff newsletters, post on bulletin boards or otherwise share information on health and safety topics. Whenever ECELS publishes a new Health Capsule, ECELS sends an E-Mail Alert from ECELS to everyone who signed up on the ECELS home page for these alerts. You may reproduce these brief articles as long as the wording of sentences is not changed, and ECELS is indicated as the source.

Teach how to manage aggressive behavior with "Play Nicely." Pediatrician Dr. Seth Scholer developed this 40 minute free instructional multi-media program. It is available at www.playnicely.org. The Multimedia Program: Smartphone and Tablet Version runs on a computer. The program is Research done at the Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University shows the instructional video lessens physical punishment. Many studies show physical punishment of young children is harmful. It fosters aggression, later mental health problems such as depression and an increased incidence of spouse and child abuse as physically punished children grow into adults.

As of the end of February 2013, all play yards sold in the United States must meet the new and improved federal safety standard to prevent injuries and deaths of children. All child care providers who care for infants and toddlers and new parents, should be aware that newer is better when it comes to the safety of play yards. The new federal standard addresses hazards associated with play yard side rails, corner brackets, and mattress attachments. These changes are meant to prevent strangulation, entrapment, lacerations, and other injuries. New tests add to existing requirements that include a stability test to prevent the play yard from tipping over, latch and lock mechanisms to keep the play yard from folding on a child when it is being used, and minimum side height requirements to  prevent children from getting out of the play yard on their own. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has a poster that summarizes the new standard and is available in English (PDF). The poster also has Safe Sleep tips to help keep baby safe in his or her sleep environment. Be sure to post this free resource wherever parents and care givers might see it. Reviewed and reaffirmed 7/2021

State regulations require documentation that the child has received vaccines and screening tests according to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Any document (including an electronic printout from the child's medical record) that provides this information is acceptable. The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) offers a form that allows health care providers to say whether the child is up to date, the CD 51. This Child Health Report form was last revised in 2008. It does not require the dates and results of the recommended screening tests. It has a check box to indicate "yes" or "no" that the child has received all the recommended screenings. The only screening information it requests is the results of any abnormal vision, hearing or lead screening. These are important, but not all the screenings that assess whether a child is healthy and ready to learn. 

Promote healthy nutrition with children, families and staff at your program. Examine the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website. Use their toolkit with individual files such as 20 Health Tips. See Smart Snacking Tips for Kids.

The Early Childhood Education Linkage System (ECELS) websiteoffers resources to promote healthy nutrition. Explore valuable options in the Child Care Health Consultant Toolkit- Obesity Prevention, for example: Tips for Feeding Picky Eaters (one minute video and resources). Use Model Child Care Health Policies, 5th Ed. to revise/develop policies and practices to support improved nutrition, breastfeeding, physical activity and screen time. Contact ECELS at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Use the Healthy Kids, Healthy Future resources. Review the Nutrition and Physical Activity Self- Assessment for Child Care (Go NAP SACC). Based on your assessment, develop an action plan to make improvements. Share these nutrition tips for infants, toddlers and preschoolers with families from the Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center (ECLKC). Encourage small changes to improve healthy eating and habits. 

Help fight hunger in PA. Visit DHS’ Ending Hunger webpages - a resource for food security in Pennsylvania. Click on the link to find a food pantry or view the network of food banks in PA. 7/2021

Learn about strategies to manage children with challenging behaviors. Complete ECELS Managing Challenging Behaviors in Young Children Self Learning Module (SLM). This updated online module will help you promote mental health in young children. Explore risk factors for challenging behaviors and use tools to review behaviors related to development. Share resources to help children with challenging behaviors and their families. Identify policies to help prevent suspension and expulsion of children. The per person fee is $15.00 for each module submitted. Addresses Pennsylvania’s Pre-Kindergarten Learning Standards for Early Childhood Standard Areas 16.1-3

Seize this great opportunity to improve nutrition for children in your care. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Team Nutrition recently released 30 award-winning recipes. They were picked from those submitted to the nationalRecipes for Healthy Kids Competition. All recipes are child-tested and child-approved, using only healthy ingredients.  They feature Child Care and Adult Food Program (CACFP) foods. All of the recipes are low in total fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt. Use them with the Crediting Handbook to easily document for CACFP. 

Children who eat more salty foods also drink more sweetened beverages. Children who drink more than one sugar-containing beverage per day are 26% more likely to be overweight or obese. These findings are from a study that enrolled over 4,200 Australian children. The study findings are in the January 2013 issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Children engage in active outdoor play every day. Sturdy shoes or sneakers help them run, climb, jump, and explore safely. The arrival of warm weather can encourage more vigorous play, but also the tendency to wear unsafe footwear.
Many children choose different footwear on warm days. Flip-flops, loose sandals, and rubber clogs are unsafe shoes. Avoid shoes that can fall off or catch on objects during active play. Unsafe shoes increase the risk of injury due to falls. Encourage parents/guardians to provide a pair of sneakers or other safe shoes to keep in the child’s cubby for use during active play.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. UV damage can also cause wrinkles and blotches or spots on your skin. The good news is that skin cancer can be prevented, and it can usually be cured when it’s found and treated early. 

Take simple steps today to protect your skin and the skin of staff and children in your program: 

  • Infants younger than 6 months are kept out of direct sunlight
  • Stay out of the sun as much as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, 15-30 minutes before going outside. Put on sunscreen every 2 hours and after you swim or sweat. Use sunscreen whenever you are going to be outside, even on cloudy days. Do not forget to apply to the neck, ears, top of head, and exposed tops of feet.
  • Cover up with long sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat. 
  • Children should wear child safe shatter resistant sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection.
  • Use Model Child Care Health Policies, 5th ed. and Appendix T “Sun Safety Permission Form” to develop sun safety policies.
  • Check skin regularly for changes and see a board-certified dermatologist if you notice new or suspicious spots on your skin, or anything changing, itching or bleeding.

In a June 2011 report, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended obesity control measures for children in 5 areas:
1. Growth Monitoring
2. Physical Activity
3. Healthy Eating
4. Limiting Screen Time and Marketing Exposure for Children
5. Sufficient Sleep

 The national American Academy of Pediatrics has a FREE, online Spanish-language magazine. The articles are about common child health concerns such as immunizations, the importance of sleep, and how to manage stress.

The majority of early learning programs serve some children with special health needs. These are children with a special medical, behavioral, or developmental condition. They are children who require care that differs in some way from that of typically developing children. For example, children need individual care plans if they have asthma, a severe allergic reaction to a food, seizures or diabetes. Children who have challenging behavior require care plans too.

ECELS has developed many tools to help programs set up a care plan for a child with any type of special need. The ECELS website has forms, a checklist and a process guide to download and use to make effective care plans.

Did you know…
ECELS has valuable tools to help you meet the new STARS Standard LM 2.5 Program uses Caring for our Children to establish policies and practices regarding care plans for children with special medical needs as well as medication administration.

1. Use Model Child Care Health Policies5th Ed. form-field version to adapt a policy for your program. See Section 10-Health Plan, items E, F, and Appendix X - Medication Administration Packet. Model Child Care Health Policies, 5th Ed. is consistent with Caring for Our Children, 3rd Ed. online (CFOC3).
2. Use the ECELS Care Plan for Children with Special Needs and Process to Enroll documents.  
3. Unavailble- The online self-learning module is temporarily unavailable while ECELS updates the format. The ECELS Self-Learning Module, Children with Medical and Developmental Special Needs, Inclusive Practices educates staff about caring for children with special needs as well as medication administration. (2 hours credit)

If you have questions about these tools, please send an email with your contact information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Updated 6/22/2021

Participation in outdoor activities during colder weather is possible. Outdoor play is enjoyable when children and staff dress appropriately. This article addresses important information to remain safe outdoors in cold weather. Also included is cold weather guidance from the:

- PA Department of Human Services' (DHS) Regulations for operating a child care facility
- PA Position Statements ECERS-R

A link to Avoid Spot Treat Frostbite & Hypothermia infographic infographic is provided. The Weather Watch Chart helps early care and education (ECE) providers plan daily playtime with guidance on wind chill factor and humidity relative to temperature. 1/29/21

 According to the National Institute of Health, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year of age that doesn’t have a known cause even after a complete investigation. Find out what actions you and others can take to help babies sleep safely and to reduce a baby's risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Visit the Safe to Sleep® campaign’s website to learn more about SIDS and safe sleep. Share the information with families.

Print or share Back to Basics Creating a Safe Sleep Space for Your Baby, a free poster from U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Review Safe Sleep in Child-Care Settings: Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Sudden Infant Death and Caring for Our Children Online Standard Database Standard 3.1.4.1: Safe Sleep Practices and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID)/SIDS Risk Reduction for more information. 11-2-21