Spring 2015 Health Link Online

HealthLink Online

Uniting Children, Parents, Caregivers, and Health Professionals

New research shows parents whose children are in child care gain more than freedom to pursue adult-only activity. They reap social, psychological, and financial rewards. Collectively, these rewards are called “social capital.” They add to the benefits of early education for children. This is especially true for low-income mothers. Advocates can use this new evidence to seek universal access to quality early education.

Mario Small at the University of Chicago found that many mothers benefit from relationships with staff and other families.  The data came from four sources. The first was a national survey of 3,500 mothers in 20 large U.S. cities. The second source was a survey of 300 child care centers in New York City. The third was 67 in-depth interviews with mothers who enrolled children in child care. The fourth source was 23 case studies and observations in specific centers.  They didn’t study what fathers gain from having their children in child care. However, the benefits for mothers are likely to help them too.

Having common problems to solve leads parents to form a support network of friendships. These relationships go beyond interactions at the child care facility. Some parents talk to other parents and staff about feeling guilty. Some aspects of U.S. culture foster parents’ feelings of guilt. Many people think parents who need and want to share the care of children outside are less competent than those who share care only within the family. Most parents know they shouldn’t “drop and run” in the morning, but it happens.  Families may have something come up that makes it hard to pick up their children on time. All these situations contribute to feelings of guilt. Parents  who use child care develop trusting relationships with other parents. This helps them make back-up arrangements with one another. Centers that have strict drop-off and pick-up times foster interfamily friendships by bringing family members to the facility at around the same time. Field trips involving parent volunteers and special family events at the child care facility encourage a sense of extended family too. Families may share concerns with one another about discipline, child-rearing practices or needed services. Some parents find when they share their concerns, child care staff and other families offer good advice and refer them to helpful resources and services. This benefit is particularly valuable in poor neighborhoods.

Use the USDA website links in this article to help staff and families focus on individual nutrition ideas. Invite families to use the web links to plan how they feed their children at home.  Look at all these and more on the USDA website at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. Snack Ideas from each food group:  grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, protein, and combinations of two or more food groups. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers/healthy-habits/snack-ideas.html%20

Involving children with laundry tasks offers opportunities for interactive conversation and practice of some motor skills.  If you bring children into laundry areas, you’ll need to protect them from  hazards commonly found there.  Prevent child access to laundry detergents and other toxic products. Laundry machines can cause injury if children climb into them or hang on doors.

Anaphylaxis is a dangerous and sudden body reaction that involves two or more organ systems. An allergy to some substance causes the reaction. This may be something that has not caused any symptoms in the past. The reaction might involve skin and the linings of the mouth and throat. If so, you could see hives or flushing of the skin and swelling of the lips, tongue or the back of the throat. The respiratory system might be affected causing shortness of breath, wheezing, croupy sounds, and blue tint to the lips and skin. Other symptoms are cramps, abdominal pain or vomiting.

Managing peanut allergy is challenging for child care providers and families who use child care. Peanut butter and products that contain peanuts are among the easiest and most tasty lunch and snack foods. Peanut allergy only occurs in 1-4% of the population. However, reactions to peanuts can be severe.

In 2013, a Princeton researcher, Miranda Waggoner studied the emergence of what some have called an “epidemic” of peanut allergy. She found that the publicity about peanut allergy has overstated the risk significantly.