Good Health for Children
Keeping your child healthy and thriving is one of a parent’s most important jobs during the early years. The necessary basics are regular doctor visits to monitor your child’s growth and development, maintaining his/her immunization schedule, preventing accidents, providing a nutritious diet, and encouraging exercise.
Illness, doctor visits, and minor accidents can be frightening for young children. Reading a picture book on the subject, either before or after the event, helps relieve their anxiety. Learning the importance of good health and hygiene habits can also be expedited through reading. Titles on this Healthy Reading Booklist will answer those questions, as well your child’s eventual questions about body functions.
First 5 links you to information on choosing the right doctor for your child, getting low cost health insurance, about common childhood illnesses and how to take care of your baby from head to toe. First 5’s list of local resources tells you who to contact for health and dental information, breast feeding support, substance abuse issues, emergencies, and many other concerns.
El Camino Hospital in Mountain View provides a free walk-in immunization service through the RotaCare Free Clinic. You can call 650-988-8200 for more information.
Confused about vaccines? Read Childhood Vaccines: what they are and why your child needs them from the American Academy of Family Physicians. In Spanish too.
Parent / Child Health Education
Free classes on topics such as “Understanding Your Child’s Temperament” and “Tantrum Training” are available at the Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto.
Many local physicians’ groups and hospitals offer children’s health information and listings of parenting/childcare classes through their websites. Some examples are:
- Good Samaritan Hospital offers both fee-based and free pre and post-natal classes, including classes to prepare young children for the birth of a new sibling.
- Kaiser Permanente will ask you to log in with a member geographic region (try Northern California), but after that doesn’t require any further member information. You will have access to an extensive collection of children’s health information.
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation (including Camino Medical Group) offers lectures that are free and open to the public. Take a look at their “Children’s Health e-Newsletter.”
Special Needs Children
Early detection and intervention is the best way to give a child with special needs a good start in life. Voice any doubts or concerns to your pediatrician, and seek a professional evaluation if your child does not seem to be within the wide norm for emotional, intellectual or physical development.
The Daily Parent, an online newsletter for working parents helps you answer the question “Does Your Child Have Special Needs?” by explaining the developmental signs to look for; then explains how to get the help you need.
The Children’s Health Council serves the needs of children from infants to teens who face behavioral and developmental challenges. They provide assessment and treatment services for a range of developmental, behavioral, emotional, and learning challenges. Financial assistance is available.
First 5 provides an extensive list of service contacts for children with special needs.
Parents Helping Parents provides lifetime guidance, support and services to families of children with special need and the professionals who serve them. Among their services are: Information & referral consultations, assistive technology services, integrated parent participation playgroups, and Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that are specific to a certain condition/disability or language.
The Children's Health Initiative, sponsored by First 5 Santa Clara helps families find affordable health insurance programs for their children. Three programs available to Santa Clara County families are:
Healthy Families California, which provides very low-cost ($4-15/month) health insurance for California children and teens who do not have employer-sponsored insurance through their parents and do not qualify for free Medi–Cal health insurance. It provides health, dental and vision coverage to children.
Medi-Cal, a state and federally funded health coverage program for very low income families.
Healthy Kids, a locally funded health insurance product unique to Santa Clara County. Healthy Kids is designed to provide comprehensive health insurance for those who do not qualify for existing programs and are financially unable to purchase coverage.
Children's Health Topics
Check MedlinePlus for a comprehensive list of online articles on children’s and teenagers’ health topics such as child safety, ear infections, infant and newborn care, head lice, and much, much more. This is only a fraction of the information that MedlinePlus offers. Topics of interest to everyone include drugs and supplements, directories of health services nationwide, and health information in forty languages.
For one stop reading on topics ranging from basic health, infections, medical tests to feelings and emotions and positive parenting, KidsHealth offers up-to-date doctor-approved health information for parents, kids and teens. The age range covered is from pregnancy through adolescence. And, KidsHealth is also available in Spanish.
Healthline, sponsored by the California Childcare Health Program and UCSF Medical School, provides easy-to-read, reproducible fact sheets geared to the concerns of parents and child care providers. "Illness Sheets" provide quick facts on childhood illnesses such as ear infections, measles, and head lice. "Fact Sheets for Families" are on topics like biting, childhood obesity, food allergies, and communicating with your child care provider. The "Health and Safety Notes" are for child care providers, including "Safe playground habits," "Infant feeding in child care," and "Keeping children safe from pesticides and pests." Also helpful are the "Survival Tips posters" on subjects like cleaning and disinfecting and diapering procedures.
Even before an infant starts teething; mouth care is important. A Healthy Mouth for Your Baby (also in Spanish) explains the simple steps to get your baby’s smile off to a great start. Brush Up on Healthy Teeth: Simple Steps for Kids’ Smiles (English and Spanish) provides helpful tips for parents to follow to ensure the care of their child’s teeth.
Child Safety and Welfare
Prevention is the answer to avoiding accidental injuries – the number one killer of children in the United States. Safe Kids USA gives parents and caregivers tips and checklists to fix problems before your little someone gets hurt.
Child Safety on MedlinePlus from the National Institute of Health recommends these steps to keep children safe from harm.
- Install the right child safety seat in your car
- Teach children how to cross the street safely
- Make sure they wear the right gear and equipment for sports
- Install and test smoke alarms
- Store medicines, cleaners and other dangerous substances in locked cabinets
- Babyproof your home
- Do not leave small children unattended
Child Safety: Keeping Your Home Safe for Your Baby will tell you how to babyproof your home.
Parents and child care providers can use the Childcare Safety Checklist from the Consumer Product Safety Commission to check the safety of your play equipment, cribs and bedding, etc. will prevent tragic and unnecessary accidents.
Baby proofing your home takes some time and effort, but the result is the sort of peace of mind that money can’t buy. Find information on what to do and how to do it in Childproofing Your Home.
If you are concerned about a family situation which may involve child abuse, you can call The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline. 1-800-4-A-CHILD is staffed twenty-four hours daily by professional crisis counselors, and is accessible throughout the U.S., its territories, and Canada. Through interpreters, communication is possible in 140 languages. The confidential and anonymous Hotline offers crisis intervention, information, literature, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources.
Each year thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes. Proper use of car safety seats helps keep children safe. This guide, Car Seat Safety: A guide for families from the American Academy of Pediatrics will help you select the right car seat.
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant younger than one year old. Some people call SIDS "crib death" because many babies who die of SIDS are found in their cribs. Most SIDS deaths occur when babies are between two months and four months old.
Although health care professionals don't know what causes SIDS, they do know ways to reduce the risk. These include:
- Place babies on their backs to sleep, even for short naps - "tummy time" is for when babies are awake and someone is watching
- Use a firm sleep surface, such as a crib mattress covered with a fitted sheet
- Keep soft objects and loose bedding away from sleep area
- Make sure babies don't get too hot - keep the room at a comfortable temperature for an adult.
Learn more from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome on MedlinePlus. In Spanish you can read El Síndrome de la Muerte Súbita en Infantes.
A Parent's Guide to Safe Sleep from the American Academy of Pediatrics is another helpful explanation of what to do.