Back-to-School Zzz’s: Transitioning to Early Wake-Ups

Most school-age children require 11 to 13 hours of sleep every night. Younger children require even more shut-eye.

Most school-age children require 11 to 13 hours of sleep every night. Younger kids require even more shut-eye. Photo courtesy: digitalfreephotos.net

We’re approaching the countdown to the beginning of the school year, and the summer vacation is winding down. With a few weeks until the return of homework, rides to school, and early morning wake-up calls, now may be the best time to adjust your children’s sleep schedule.

Chances are your little ones have been taking advantage of the break by late bedtimes, and late wake-ups. Taking a few steps now may help them better transition to the inevitable early mornings.

Sleep affects how children function. Photo courtesy: digitalfreephotos.net

Sleep affects how children function. Photo courtesy: digitalfreephotos.net

Sleep affects how children think and function, so a proper good night’s rest is crucial. It is important to note preschoolers require 11 to 13 hours of sleep every night. If your child is a little older, school-age, 10 to 11 hours are a must in order to function adequately, according to the National Association of Child Care Resources & Referral Agencies.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends parents to gradually adjust their children’s sleep schedule a few weeks before the start of the school year. Following a few simple tips can make the first week of school run a lot smoother:

  • Return to a sleep schedule appropriate for school about two weeks before classes start by setting an earlier bedtime every night.
  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Once a sleep schedule is established, stick with it!
  • Set a relaxing bedtime routine, free from TV, video games, phones, or other gadgets. Before bedtime, establish a “quiet time” to allow your child to unwind.
  • Avoid big meals or caffeine late in the evening. A heavy meal, sodas and other caffeinated drinks can prevent a child from falling asleep. A good rule of thumb is to avoid caffeine six hours before going to bed.
  • Maintain a peaceful bedroom environment. A dark room, comfortable bed, and appropriate room temperature will allows children to sleep better.

Remember, the sooner you begin a sleep pattern prior to the start of the school year, the better! Waking up on the first day of school will be less painful.

Speak with your family’s pediatrician if your child experiences regular sleep problems. According to the National Sleep Foundation, an estimated 69 percent of children under 10 years old have some type of sleep condition, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, or sleepwalking. Your doctor can determine if it is serious, and can recommend a course of action.

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Keep Safety in Mind While Celebrating 4th of July

4th of july4

Have a happy and safe 4th of July! Photo courtesy: digitalfreephotos.net

Summer is in full swing, and as you make plans for the upcoming 4th of July holiday weekend – there are several things to keep in mind to ensure your family stays safe.

Heat exhaustion. Temperatures in Houston are creeping into the mid-90s, and it won’t be long before we’re dealing with the triple digits. Outdoor activities must be accompanied with plenty of hydration. Failing to do so can lead to overheating, which can be potentially dangerous. Children under four years old are at a higher risk.

Heat exhaustion symptoms include headaches, nausea, loss of consciousness, and minimal sweating. If a loved one is experiencing overheating symptoms, make sure they rest, move to a cooler place, and drink cool water or sports drinks. The Mayo Clinic recommends you call 911 if body temperature reaches 104°F (40°C) or higher.

Stay cautious while hitting the pool this summer. Photo courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net

Stay cautious while hitting the pool this summer. Photo courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net

Swimming. If taking a dip in the pool to stay cool, make sure everyone knows how to swim well. The summertime is the perfect time to enroll in a water safety or CPR/AED course. Check with your local YMCA or Red Cross for more information.

The American Red Cross recommends children use a buddy system with an adult. Young children are not to be left alone with other children near a pool, and while supervising little ones, do not let your guard down or allow distractions take your attention.

If your child is not an experienced swimmer, have him/her wear a life jacket near the water. In the case that a child should disappear from your presence, check the water first, as seconds count in preventing serious injury or death.

Courtesy: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Fingers and hands are the most-injured body parts by fireworks. Courtesy: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Fireworks. No 4th of July celebration is complete without fireworks. Before purchasing fireworks, make sure they are legal in your city or neighborhood. Fireworks are illegal in Houston city limits as well as parts of Harris County. If you’re illegally caught with fireworks, you can face a fine between $500 and $2,000 for each individual firework.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, small fireworks, such as bottle rockets and sparklers, hurt approximately 1,000 children under five years old during the 30 days surrounding the 4th of July.

If your city does allow the use of fireworks, make sure your family follows safety guidelines by CPSC. Young children are never to be allowed to play with or ignite fireworks. Children under nine years old account for 20% of firework-related injuries.

Courtesy: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Firework injuries by age. Courtesy: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Experts also recommend to not position any body part directly over a firework when lighting the fuse. More than half of injuries related to fireworks are burns. At 41%, hands and fingers account for the most injured body parts. Additionally, the head, face, and ears make up for one in five of injuries.

The safest way to enjoy fireworks may perhaps be by attending one of a number of 4th of July celebrations around Houston. The Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau has compiled a list of family-friendly activities around the city.

Summer safety kit. If heading out of town, the Texas Children’s Hospital recommends packing a summer safety kit with several essential products that may come in handy in a trip.

Purchase a sunscreen with a strong SPF, and apply it 15 minutes before going outside. Sun block must be replied every two hours when swimming or sweating. Make sure to be aware if your child is sensitive to high SPF.

Family

If you’re planning a family trip, make sure to pack a summer safety kit. Photo courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net

Keep other first aid essentials, such as antibiotic ointment and bandages for scratches and cuts. Also include children’s pain medication for minor aches and pain. Carry insect repellent with DEET as an active ingredient. However, use the lowest-strength DEET possible, and avoid insect repellents that contain citronella, which tends to be less effective. If your child does get bit by insects, make sure you have an anesthetic to relieve itching. Also pack all necessary items for children with special needs, such as inhalers and testing equipment.

If you’re staying home for Independence Day, check out our Pinterest page for plenty of 4th of July-inspired activities.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!