No Time to Pack School Lunch?

Brandpoint  |  2015-12-03

(BPT) - The school year is well underway and your best laid plans for coordinated family schedules, home-cooked dinners together and a bag lunch packed from home have evolved to an acceptable level of managed chaos.

Time is short and usually double-booked.

One thing you don’t need to worry about is your child’s lunch. The nutrition she gets at school will be just as good, if not better, than the bag lunch you were planning to send.

“Many parents aren’t aware of the nutritional content of what’s on the menu at their child’s cafeteria,” says Mary Fell, director of School Nutrition Services at Alum Rock Union School District in San Jose, California.

Fell explains, “Many of these are familiar and favorite foods for children and if you read the fine print, you’ll see they’re packed with a variety of powerhouse nutrients that they need, are lower in sodium and have 0 grams trans fat per serving.”

Chef Mark Ainsworth, nutrition expert and professor at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), explains that school meals must meet the rules established by the USDA, which specify how many proteins, whole grains, sodium and fats are on the menu. Calories are set, as well. “I believe it’s actually more nutritionally balanced at school than it would be at home, unless mom or dad is a nutritionist or dietary expert,” says Ainsworth.

“In San Jose, each of our meals align with USDA guidelines,” says Fell. “We know children eat with all of their senses - especially sight, smell and taste. We focus on the full experience, understanding the flavors and foods they like, to make their lunch a fun and nutritious break in their days.” Fell explains that her colleagues across the country are committed to similar goals. “We’re in this line of work because we care about kids and their nutrition.”

Parents may be surprised to learn a school lunch of mandarin oranges, a green salad with reduced calorie dressing, a slice of whole-grain crust pizza, like Big Daddy’s (R) Primo Cheese Pizza from Schwan’s Food Service, and a cup of nonfat milk, has comparable nutrients and 35 percent less sodium than a bag lunch with a turkey and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread, carrot sticks, a medium apple, one ounce of multigrain chips and a cup of nonfat milk. Whole grains, calcium, protein and potassium are star ingredients in both lunches.

The essentials of whole grains

Whole grains are an important source of dietary fiber and also provide B-vitamins and essential minerals that help keep kids healthy. A diet rich in whole grains can help to lower the risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. They also help to provide a feeling of fullness.

The notable nutrients of potassium and calcium

Potassium and calcium have both been named “nutrients of concern” for children because research has shown their diets are often lacking these important nutrients. Potassium ensures normal heart and muscle function, maintains fluid balance and plays a role in promoting strong bones. Calcium is important for strong bones and also plays a role in blood clotting and muscle function.

The power of protein

Protein is a cornerstone of a child’s diet, supporting growth and development. Considered a building block for muscle and collagen, protein also helps to transport other nutrients in the body.

Companies like Schwan’s Food Service have worked to reduce sodium in their pizzas by incorporating sea salt in the crust and sauce, as well as adding herbs and spices, to enhance the flavor and the nutrition of this favorite food.

“We’re excited to share with parents the facts about our school meals,” says Fell. “It’s a great way for us to make kids smile and hopefully minimize the stress to pack those bag lunches.”

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Tricks for Conquering Winter Germs

Brandpoint  |  2015-12-03

(BPT) - From pencils and paper to snacks and show-and-tell treasures — kids share virtually everything at school. While parents agree sharing is a good skill for kids to learn, it’s certainly not the case when it comes to germs, particularly during cold and flu season. Germs are lurking everywhere and are simply unavoidable. And where there are germs, there can often be sickness. That dreaded first cough, sneeze and sniffle surely brings about anything but joy in the home.

“Every parent has experienced those ‘ew’ moments where kids are kids and regardless of what we do to keep them healthy, sick strikes,” says Dr. Nina Shapiro, leading pediatric doctor and mom of two. “I can certainly speak firsthand on those cringe-worthy moments where the ew is simply unavoidable and the best way to battle it is by being prepared to get kids back on their feet – so you can get a little rest too.”

Here are Dr. Shapiro’s top tips for keeping kids and families healthy during cough, cold and flu season.

  1. Sing the joys of washing hands well

    Washing hands well is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illness, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kids should regularly wash hands at home and at school. Make scrub time fun by singing while washing — the goal is to wash for 20 seconds, or about the amount of time it takes to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” once or “Happy Birthday” twice.

  2. Wrangle those hands and avoid the nose and mouth

    Children have busy hands and those tiny fingers often end up in ew-filled places. It’s important to regularly remind kids to keep their hands out of their nose and mouth to help prevent the spread of germs. Seven in 10 school nurses cite unsanitary habits among children like nose picking or not washing their hands as the top cause for germs spreading among kids at school, according to the recent “Ew-dentification” survey conducted by the pediatric brands of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare.

  3. Be a flu-buster and get vaccinated

    It’s very likely at some point during the fall and winter season that your children will come in contact with the flu virus. This year’s vaccination is now available, so schedule an office visit for the whole family. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated their guidelines requiring children ages six months to eight years to receive two doses of the flu shot this season if they have received less than two doses of the flu vaccine prior to July 2015.

  4. Ease aches and pains and rest, rest, rest

    With flu season upon us, parents should be armed with an OTC pain reliever and fever reducer like Children’s Advil(R) which reduces fever fast and keeps it down for up to eight hours, while also relieving aches and pains in children as young as 2 years (based on reducing fever below 100 F). When kids are more comfortable, they are able to get the extra rest their bodies need to fight off illness, ultimately also giving relief to worried parents.

  5. Keep your wellness arsenal fully stocked

    Flu isn’t the only sickness kids may encounter. According to the survey of school nurses, colds, stomach bugs and coughs also frequently spread around schools. For cough and colds, an effective medicine like Children’s Robitussin(R) Cough & Chest Congestion offers relief by breaking up chest congestion and relieving coughs. If a child is suffering from cold symptoms, a medicine like Children’s Dimetapp(R) is great option for relieving stuffy noses and ongoing sniffles. Stock up now so when sickness strikes, you are ready and your child can feel quick relief — no emergency trip to the store required.

  6. Take a deep breath and use that humidifier

    Every family should have a humidifier to get through the cold and flu seasons. By adding moisture to the dry air, you can help your child breathe easier, particularly at night when he or she is trying to sleep.

For more information and tips for coping when sick happens, visit:

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4 Ways to Keep Kids Safe Outdoors

Brandpoint  |  2015-12-02

(BPT) - Colder temperatures are on their way, but right now the weather is beautiful and that means there’s still plenty of time to get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air. As an adult, spending time outside allows you to pursue passions such as landscaping, lawn games, swimming in the pool or just enjoying the company of family and friends. There’s plenty to do and you know your children enjoy being outdoors just as much as you do.

However, when small children are outside, the potential for accidents increases. To keep them safe and make spending time outdoors an enjoyable experience for everyone, practice these four safety steps.

  • It starts with you. Supervising your child while you’re outdoors together is the easiest way to ward off accidents, but then how do you get anything done? Start by asking your child to join you in completing the task and give them assignments they can manage such as carrying or sorting items. You can also provide toys or a new game they can play in your sight. Finally, join them in the fun. If you can’t make them part of your project, make yourself part of theirs. Play their game in the backyard, swim with them in the pool or go exploring for bugs together.

  • Secure the area. If you want to block off a larger area like a pool or your back yard, a fence can be the answer and can make for one, final DIY project this year. Before you start however, it’s important to contact your city or homeowner’s association to be sure fences are allowed and to learn what type of fence you can install. Then, you need to decide if you will hire someone to install the fence or do it yourself. If you choose to do it yourself, be sure to contact your power provider so they can mark the proper power lines before you dig.

  • Use the right tools. A fence can keep your child safe, but eventually they’ll learn to open the gate. To protect kids during these inquisitive years, D&D Technologies recently launched Magna Latch Alert, the world’s first integrated alarm with new audible and visual features. Magna Latch Alert easily attaches to any gate and emits a single alert beep when the gate is opened. It will even notify you if the gate has not been securely and fully latched. Magna Latch Alert is made from high performance polymers so it won’t rust in rain or snow, making it the perfect choice for any outdoor space where safety is a must.

  • Educate yourself. Despite your best efforts, accidents can happen and if one does, it’s essential you’re prepared. Make sure you’re trained in CPR and mouth-to-mouth and you’re aware of your child’s allergies. Finally, remembering 9-1-1 is easy but you should also have the number for poison control plugged into your phone, just in case.

No matter what outdoor activity you have planned, it will be more fun if you know everyone around you is safe. Institute the four steps above and you’ll be able to enjoy the rest of this year’s beautiful outdoor days without a concern.

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Is Your Baby Ready for Chewing?

NewsUSA  |  2015-12-01

(NewsUSA) - Taking the step up from baby food to table food requires a key skill: chewing. Chewing is a learned skill, and parents can help their babies make the transition by offering a mix of appropriately textured foods.

Before introducing textured foods, review a baby's readiness. Signs that a baby is ready to begin eating soft foods include crawling with his or her stomach off the floor, pulling up to a standing position, starting to mash food with the jaws and attempting to feed him or herself (not necessarily successfully, but making the effort).

Learning to chew takes practice. It's not a skill babies develop instantly or even over a limited period of time, such as one month. Studies show that even when babies reach 3 years of age, they are still mastering chewing skills. Baby foods that combine different textures allow babies who are at the crawling or standing stage to simply explore those textures in their mouths without having to navigate separate foods. For older babies, small, soft food pieces can help promote side-to-side tongue movement and jaw mashing movement as preparation for chewing. Children who eat foods with chunky textures before the 10-month mark have an easier time transitioning to table food.

Textured foods such as those in Gerber's Lil' Bits recipe collection are specifically designed with soft bits of food sized for babies' mouths and a gradual progression in texture to help them further develop their chewing skills. Gerber experts analyzed more than 20 hours of video footage of babies chewing and mashing food, and tested approximately 30,000 spoonfuls of food to develop optimally sized food pieces that promote chewing ability.

We hold ourselves to high standards and bring deep passion to making baby food," a company statement notes. "We only work with farmers who comply with our strict quality standards, use cooking practices that help ensure our products are safe and developmentally appropriate, and test our products with babies from our panel of 2,000 Tiny Taste Testers. We do all of this to help ensure that our baby food is as delicious as it is nutritious."

The Gerber Lil' Bits collection includes 11 fruit and vegetable options and six dinner options, resulting from more than 80 taste tests to ensure baby approval. Recipes include Chicken Itty-Bitty Noodle, Garden Vegetable & Beef, and Autumn Vegetable & Turkey.

For more information, and to share photos of your baby's first chewing efforts, please

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How to Help Your Child Get Over Math Anxiety

NewsUSA  |  2015-11-24

(NewsUSA) - Were you a math whiz growing up, or did you struggle and feel anxious at the mere mention of math? As a parent, you surely don't want your child to experience the same thing.

"It's easy to help your child not only excel at math but also enjoy it," says Raj Valli, the founder ofTabtor Math, a tablet-based math learning program for K-8 children personalized by a dedicated tutor. "Create a math-friendly environment, make math a playful language and participate in an ongoing dialogue about math."

Valli offers the following advice for helping your child enjoy math.

Create a positive environment around math. Since children model the attitudes of those around them, speak positively about math (even hiding your true feelings). Say encouraging phrases like, "It's really cool that you can use math every day."

Think about math as a language. Because children begin using language when they are very young, they don't feel the same anxiety about reading and writing as they do about math. To transfer this positive attitude over to math, approach math as a language, rather than as a "problem." Count things together, measure things together and talk about the numbers involved in any activity you are doing together. Don't worry too much about getting answers "right" or "wrong." Instead, help them think through the process of using math aloud, in words.

Hold a math "dialogue" centered on everyday activities. Once your child is comfortable with thinking about math in language terms, ask at the supermarket how many cookies are in a package and how your child calculated this answer. She might refer to the size of the package or the size of the cookies inside. Whether right or wrong, it's important to emphasize the process used in her head to make the guess. This gets her thinking about math as a visual subject involving shape and volume, rather than just as numbers in a line.

You might ask an older child how many slices of bread are in a loaf, how thick each slice is and how long the loaf is. Open the package to see how close the estimate was. He will learn to feel comfortable with estimating and will enjoy a conversation with you using math as a focal point.

If you set the stage correctly, you'll find that your child enjoys math more than you did -- and then you can relax and enjoy your child's future success in the classroom.

To learn more, please visit

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