The Healthiest Holiday Season: A Boca Pediatrician’s Checklist

healthy holiday

My family is so sick of being sick! This fall has been a doozy on the health front in our house. I’m personally fighting cold number two and feel like there’s no end in sight. I really should buy stock in Kleenex. As moms, we always feel like we have to make sure everyone else is taken care of first. The winter season is no different as we (and especially our kids) are exposed to even more people…and germs…and holiday hazards. So, I reached out to Boca pediatrician Chad Rudnick, M.D. FAAP of Boca VIPediatrics for some tried and true tips on how my family and I can work to have the healthiest holiday season yet!

It’s Not Too Late to Get Your Flu Shot

Did you know that flu activity peaks between December and February? That’s why your pediatrician will tell you that whether or not you’re traveling or not this holiday season, getting a flu shot is the best way to keep flu away and stay healthy during the holidays.

Designate a “Child Watcher” at Every Family Gathering or Holiday Party

Holiday parties or big gatherings are often the place where injuries with kids happen. Parents assume that somebody else is watching the kids, especially with so many adults around. But, these situations can often be the most hazardous, because in fact nobody is watching the kids! 

Remember that not all homes you visit during the holiday season will be child/baby proof, so it’s important to always keep a watchful eye on your children. Or better yet? Hire a trusted babysitter or Party Host Helper for holiday gatherings and parties.

Holiday Foods Can Go Really Wrong

Not all holiday treats are created equal when it comes to food safety. Batter that contains raw eggs should never be consumed as it can harbor potentially harmful bacteria such as E. Coli. So, please refrain from letting your child lick the spoon! Holiday foods can also be choking hazards, so be sure to cut them into small pieces for young children. Some of these include: whole grapes, hot dogs, popcorn, nuts, hard candies, and marshmallows. 

Beware of Holiday Home Hazards 

It’s best to always use caution when it comes to kids + burning candles, tree ornaments, and small toy parts. Make sure that any lit menorah is always out of reach. And for Christmas trees, avoid sharp or breakable decorations and make sure trimmings with small parts are out of reach for children, who could swallow or inhale little pieces.

Mistletoe (Phoradendron serotinum) is a toxic plant and ingestion can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort. Call your poison control center and seek medical attention if your child ingests mistletoe leaves or berries.

Sunscreen Is Still Essential

Don’t let the cooler weather fool you! Sunscreen should always be applied prior to any outdoor outing during the holiday season. 

Numbers You Should Keep On Speed Dial

Always know how to get in touch with your Pediatrician after-hours (Boca VIPediatrics VIPs have the added bonus of being able to text/email/call their own doc directly to their cell), your closest 24-hour pharmacy, and United States Poison Control (store that number now: 800/222-1222). These contacts will come in handy for any time-sensitive issues that may arise after-hours during the holiday season. 

healthy holiday

Make Sure to Shop Santa’s SAFE Toy List

Sometimes Santa is busy, so it’s often a parent’s job to read the age safety recommendations for specific toys. Age labeling helps identify possible choking hazards due to small parts, so be sure to follow these guidelines prior to giving just any plaything to your young child. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) closely monitors and regulates toys.

Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when shopping for toys this holiday season:

• Toys made of fabric should be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant.

• Stuffed toys should be washable.

• Painted toys must use lead-free paint.

• Art materials should say nontoxic.

• Crayons and paints should say ASTM D-4236 on the package, which means that they’ve been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Use caution with older toys, or hand-me-downs from friends and family, which may not meet current safety standards.

healthy holiday

Stay within Your Child’s Medical Home If an Illness Arises

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend retail-based clinics, telehealth services (outside of the medical home), or acute care services without pediatric expertise for children. A medical home in pediatrics is a trusted Board-Certified Pediatrician that knows your child best. While you may notice new facilities popping up in your neighborhood that advertise “urgent” care services often with no appointment necessary, the AAP recommends that your first step be to call your pediatrician’s office—your child’s “medical home”—to discuss their needs. 

Special thanks to Dr. Rudnick of Boca VIPediatrics for all of this sound safety advice! Wishing you a happy… and especially healthy holiday season this year!