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Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Experts Offer Safety Tips as Hudson Valley Families Head Back to School
Story Number is : 082917112
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Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital

As the summer draws to a close, parents and children in the Hudson Valley are turning their thoughts and preparations to the start of the new school year. Amidst the back to school shopping and gathering of school supplies, experts at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network, are urging parents to remember the most important back to school focus – their children’s physical and emotional preparedness for the year ahead.

Pediatrician Rebekka Levis, MD, and Abraham Bartell, MD, Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, both at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, offer safety tips to make the transition from summer to school as smooth as possible.

• Make sure your child is up to date on immunizations: Children should visit their pediatrician for an annual physical and ensure that their immunizations are up to date. In New York State, this means children entering kindergarten should have two measles, mumps and rubella vaccines, two chicken pox vaccines, and should be up to date with their polio and DTaP vaccines. Children entering 7th grade should have one meningitis vaccine and children entering 12th grade should have two meningitis vaccines, unless the first was received after their 16th birthday.

• Ease back into a school year routine – including setting an earlier bedtime.
Children ages 6-18 should get approximately 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Help your child get back into a regular routine during the summer by waking up earlier and moving bedtime up by 15-30 minutes each night over the last week or two before school starts. Help make falling asleep easier by cutting out screen time for the last hour before bed to avoid overstimulation and avoid meals that are too big or too small.
• Don’t skip breakfast and make sure your kids are getting healthy school lunches.
Eating a healthy breakfast and lunch helps children fuel their day appropriately and leads to better focus and academic performance. Pack a healthy lunch for your child that includes fruit, protein and simple carbohydrates. If your child’s lunch is provided at school, check to make sure healthy options are offered.

• Choose the right backpack for your child. Your child’s backpack should weigh no more than 10-20% of the child’s body weight, should have wide padded straps and a padded back and should rest at the child’s waist. Disperse items evenly throughout the different compartments and encourage your child to use both straps.

• Talk to your children about anxiety or angst that they may be experiencing.
Getting into a routine and preparing for the transition to school will help address most general anxieties. Talk to your children about concerns they have from last year that may not have been addressed over the summer. If your child was seeing a therapist or counselor, get back into the routine of seeing that professional.

For more back to school health and safety tips, please visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website at www.aap.org.



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