Don’t Let Spring Showers Slow Your Kids Down: Our Top Rainy Day Activities in the Twin Cities

Girl looking through the window on a rainy day

As Minnesotans, we know that the calendar arrival of spring certainly does not guarantee sunshine and short-sleeve temperatures. March, April, and even May can be filled with cold, rainy days (and let’s not count out one or two early spring snow storms!) that make us crave the warmth of summer even more. A few months ago, we came up with some ideas to keep the kids active during winter, but let’s explore a few rainy day activities in the Twin Cities to count on this spring!

Kids looking at dolphins at an aquarium

Learn

Rainy days are the perfect opportunity for encouraging learning, and luckily, educational activities in the Twin Cities are plentiful. Here are a few educational activities we’d recommend checking out:

  • Como Zoo – If you’ve been there before, you know that the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory makes a perfect day trip any time of the year. Escape the rain and cold and wander around the garden domes filled with palm trees and exotic plants, and then head over to the Tropical Encounter which features free-flying birds, a sloth, and plenty of humidity. You and the kids will be able to learn about a variety of plants and animals while enjoying a tropical climate.
  • Sea Life at Mall of America – This is another adventure perfect for any animal-loving kid. Though a little more expensive than a day at Como, the Sea Life exhibit at the Mall of America (MoA) still offers rich hands-on learning experiences that will keep your children engaged and excited to learn more. From sharks to jellyfish, there are hundreds of species to learn about in this expansive exhibit.
  • Children’s Museum St. Paul – Kids of all ages will love the highly interactive environment that the Minnesota Children’s Museum provides. Let kids develop a scientific understanding of their surroundings, gain hands-on workshop experience, and stimulate creativity with a multitude of expertly designed exhibits.

Kids staying active indoors

Play

Rainy days spent inside can induce some serious cabin fever in kids. If yours need to burn off some energy in a new environment, check out these active indoor activities in the Twin Cities that will tire your kids out in no time.

  • Edinborough Park – As the largest indoor play facility in Minnesota, you really can’t go wrong with Edinborough Park. With play areas designated for kids of all ages and even an indoor track and pool for those older than 16, this facility is a perfect place for the whole family to burn off energy on rainy spring days!
  • Your local gym – Be on the lookout for special events hosted at your local gym. YMCAs will often have open gym and family swim hours perfect for little ones.
  • Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America – Another local no-brainer, but always a trusted option for a rainy day. In addition to the seven acres of pure fun, the Mall of America also offers “Toddler Tuesday” where toddlers can play, meet their favorite movie characters, and do crafts for free or discounted rates. Many restaurants in the mall participate and let kids eat free during these limited hours!

Kids doing arts and crafts at home

Stay at Home

There are hundreds of more places around the metro region we could list, but maybe one of the best ways to make the best of a rainy spring day is to simply stay at home! You can keep kids busy at home by blending learning and play all while saving time and money required by visiting some of the previously listed activities. Here’s a quick list of ideas to try:

  • Build a fort
  • Sit down for story time
  • Throw a dance party
  • Bake cookies
  • Write and illustrate a children’s book
  • Play dress-up

Whether you’re at home or in a museum, there’s lots of fun to be had on those cold, rainy spring days we know so well. At Grow Pediatrics, we understand that balancing learning and play is critical to your child’s development. If you have any questions or concerns about your child, don’t hesitate and contact us!

Natural Treatment for Scrapes That Will Get the Kids Back to Playing Faster

A child with a scraped knee

The sun is shining longer, the temperatures are (slowly) climbing, and kids across the Twin Cities are itching to get back to playing outdoors. After a long winter, you might be getting ready to brush the dust off the first aid kit in preparation for knee and elbow scrapes from falls off bikes or trips over sidewalk cracks. Given the upcoming spring and summer seasons, we’d like to provide a few tips on how to treat the minor cuts and scrapes your little ones might get from playing outside with natural remedies.

First, let’s go over some of the more traditional methods parents have used as treatment for scrapes. The first step of scrape treatment should be to stop any bleeding by gently applying pressure, and then cleaning away dirt and debris with water and non-scented soap. This will help prevent infection from developing.

Once the scraped area is clean, think twice if you’re about to dig through the cabinet for hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol. These solutions may not be as effective as we once thought and can actually slow the healing process.

For those of you wondering how to heal a scrape fast — and naturally — we’ve compiled a few tips and tricks to put to work this spring and summer!

 

Woman choosing essential oil in Japan

Essential Oils

If you’ve got essential oils on hand, you’re in luck! Two amazing oils you can use to speed up recovery are lavender and tea tree oil. Lavender is antibacterial and can help promote fast healing while tea tree oil is well-known for its anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties.

When applying onto your child’s scrape, it’s a good idea to use a carrier such as coconut oil, aloe vera, or a very mild lotion. Mix 2-3 drops of the oil into a bit of your carrier of choice, and apply directly onto the scrape. Then, wrap up the scrape with a bandage. Make sure to re-apply this treatment a few times a day to keep the scrape moist.

 

A few bulbs of garlic

Garlic

Garlic is a miracle worker — whether it’s used for cooking or scrape-healing. Be warned that garlic is a more aggressive treatment and might actually burn a little when applied directly. However, it has powerful antibiotic properties and is a staple of herbal medicine.

To apply garlic, mash 10-20 cloves depending on the size of the scrape and mix with water until it has the consistency of a paste. Cover the area with a bandage, and the garlic will work to destroy bacteria and reduce pain. You won’t need to re-apply as frequently, but do change the bandage and apply fresh garlic once a day until the scrape shows signs of healing.

 

A spoonful of honey ready to treat scrapes

Honey

Much more than just a delicious treat, honey is another extremely powerful healing tool you can use on scrapes. Honey has been used since ancient times for medicinal purposes, including the treatment of wounds. Much like garlic, it is a potent antibacterial that can kill off bacteria and prevent infection. It also helps stimulate cell production and keeps the surrounding tissues healthy during repair.

It’s important to note that only raw honey, especially a variety called Manuka honey, will work for this, as it possesses the healing enzymes that cooked honey lacks. To apply, you can either spread a little bit of honey over the scrape or mix with aloe vera. Re-apply 2-3 times a day, and be sure to keep the scrape moist to promote fast healing.

A variety of healthy foods that can help promote scrape healing

Diet

Scrape treatment shouldn’t be limited to just topical treatments. You can also help heal your child’s wounds by promoting a healthy diet that will surely speed up recovery. A few staples to incorporate are leafy greens, lean protein, and vitamin C.

Vegetables packed with vitamin K can speed up blood clotting, and protein is necessary for building new tissue. Spinach, lean meats (or nuts and soy products for vegetarians/vegans) and citrus fruits are all specific foods you can be on the lookout for.

Of course, hearty and nutritious meals should be encouraged every day. For advice on properly balancing your child’s meals, check out this blog!

Please keep in mind that if a cut or scrape is deep (over ¼ inch deep) or is still bleeding badly after 20 minutes, you should contact us, or another healthcare professional. It’s also important to keep an eye out for signs of wound infection. Some of these signs include excess swelling or tenderness, yellow-green pus, and fever. If your child exhibits these signs, please call your doctor.

Fruits & Vegetables for Kids: How Much Do They Need?

Vegetables for kids

It’s the ancient battle between parents and kids — getting your family to eat enough vegetables. Research has proven that many children in the United States will go days without consuming a single vegetable, which is damaging to both their health and the development of their eating habits. So the question remains, how many vegetables should a child eat per day and what’s the secret to getting kids to eat vegetables and fruit?

How much should they eat?

The amount of fruits and veggies your kids should consume is mainly based on their age, increasing as they get older. However, appetite and activity levels are also a factor to consider.

Here’s the breakdown:

 

Age Fruit Vegetables
1-2 ½ serving 2-3 servings
2-3 1 serving 2.5 servings
4-8 1.5 servings 4.5 servings
9-11 2 servings 2 servings
12-18 2 servings 5-5.5 servings

 

A serving is relatively 150 grams or about 1 cup. In general, a good rule of thumb is to make your child’s meals be ½ vegetables, ¼ lean meat or other protein, and ¼ grains.

Every parent wants their children to be healthy and eat the food that will fuel their body through all their activities, but getting kids to eat their vegetables can be quite the challenge. What can we do about that?

How To Get Kids To Eat More Vegetables

Kids are far more likely to eat vegetables if they’re made readily available to eat whenever they’re hungry. While it can be a struggle (they may try broccoli ten times before they’ll eat it!) there are a few strategic ways to keep vegetables in their diet and encourage healthy eating habits.

Involve Everyone

When grocery shopping, get the kids involved by allowing them to help you pick out fruit and veggies to have at home and involve them in meal preparation as well. Remember to select produce that’s in season — it tastes better!

Get Creative!

Don’t get stuck in serving fruit or vegetables in one way, get creative with how they’re prepared or served. Puree vegetables for sauces or soups, bake apples for a fun dessert, put some bananas in cereal, or serve ants on a log for a fun after-school snack.

Put Fruit & Vegetables in Every Meal

This sounds harder than it is. As mentioned above, there are plenty of ways to include healthy food in your child’s diets without handing them a plate of broccoli. But it is important to include them in every meal — this will help your child get used to eating fruits and vegetables regularly and encourage healthy eating early on!

Make Snack Time Healthy

Rather than giving your child sugary or salty snacks, give them apple or peach slices, carrots and dip, a fresh fruit smoothie, or other healthy foods they gravitate to. There are plenty of ways to keep your kids healthy during snack time while still making it fun!

Additionally, keep a fruit bowl out that’s always stocked. This will encourage your child to grab a piece of fruit if they’re hungry!

Keeping fruit and vegetables in your child’s diet may seem challenging, but don’t lose hope. With a few creative ideas and a little patience, hitting the recommended amount of daily servings should be a breeze! For more information regarding healthy eating habits for your child, contact the experts at Grow Pediatrics today!

Healthy Valentine’s Day Treats For Kids (+ Other Ideas) That Your Family Will Love

Healthy Valentine's Day Treat for Kids

Valentine’s Day is considered the most romantic day of the year, but why not involve the whole family in your celebration? There are plenty of healthy and fun Valentine’s Day ideas for kids that will allow your whole family to celebrate your love for one another.

Valentine’s Day Food Ideas for Kids

Breakfast Ideas

Start Valentine’s Day off the right way with a few fun and festive breakfast ideas! Grab some heart-shaped cookie cutters for a few heart-y meals:
– Heart-shaped pancakes
– Heart-shaped bacon
– Heart-shaped toast (or heart-shaped eggs in a basket)

Add some raspberries or strawberries to keep the red theme going!

Lunch/Dinner/Snack Ideas

If your child is heading to school, you can pack them a gorgeous lunch with a heart-shaped PB&J, fruit cut up into heart shapes, or a tasty dessert such as homemade heart-shaped rice krispy treats.

Come dinner time, consider a homemade pizza — shaped like a heart, of course — that will give the kids something to look forward to all day. Using homemade ingredients and plenty of fresh veggies will keep the meal a healthy Valentine’s Day treat for your kids!

Decorate

Decorating for Valentine’s Day is a great way to bring a sense of festivity into the house and make everyone feel special. Consider decorating your child’s room with pink, white or red balloons attached to their favorite healthy snack or a small present, such as a stuffed animal or a book.

Another idea is to decorate their bathroom mirror or bedroom door with red or pink post-it notes with messages telling them how much you love them, what they’re great at, or other positive messages to remind them how loved they are.

Dress Up

There are plenty of options for dressing up to celebrate the international day of love. As a family, grab some inexpensive red or pink t-shirts, fabric paint and a heart shaped stencil to make your own matching shirts for Valentine’s Day.
Another option — find some funny Valentine’s Day clothing items such as punny t-shirts, heart-shaped glasses or other quirky accessories to show off your family’s creative side.

If your child has long hair, consider doing hairstyles with Valentine’s day themed hair accessories or even finding ways to style their hair with little hearts in it!

Arts and Crafts

Encourage your children to make homemade valentines to pass out to classmates, teachers, siblings, grandparents or other family members. Homemade valentines are a classic staple — a Valentine’s Day craft for your kids that the whole family can enjoy. Construct a Valentine’s Day mailbox together to keep all of their valentines and special notes, or even encourage them to write notes about what they love about each member of your family to read at dinnertime!

For any additional tips on how to make holidays fun and healthy, contact the experts at Grow Pediatrics today!

Keep Your Kids Hydrated: How Much Water Should A Child Drink Daily?

Water splashing out of glass with lemon

A common misconception is that remaining hydrated is more important in the summer when the temperatures and humidity are high, but staying hydrated during the winter is just as important for your child’s health. Many wonder, however, how much water should my child drink on a regular basis?

Why do we need so much water?

Water is one of the body’s most essential nutrients. It keeps you hydrated, aids in maintaining a healthy body weight, keeps your temperature regulated, and so much more. Water is the cornerstone of every bodily function — we could not live more than a week without it.

The most important reason to drink water regularly is that every living cell in our body needs fluids to function. Water is especially important on hot days, if you’re exercising, or if you’re fighting illness — even if we don’t feel thirsty.

What’s the number?

How much water a child needs on the daily depends on several factors:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Biological Sex

Boys tend to require more water daily than girls, and as your child grows their daily water intake increases as well. Here’s a general breakdown:

Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 10.43.40 AM

Other Water Sources

It may seem that water intake needs are high, but this does also include fluids from other sources. Soups or broths, as well as food with high water content such as celery, tomatoes or melons aid in water intake, and have a low calorie count — even more reason to include them in your child’s diet!

While children love sugary fruit juices and sports drinks, they’re not the healthiest source of water. They can dehydrate them further and lead to weight gain. If your child is physically active, avoid sports drinks and encourage them to consume more water.

Tips To Help Your Kids Drink More Water

If you’re concerned that your child may not be getting the recommended amount of water every day, there are a few ways you can help!

  • Make sure your kids carry a water bottle with them.
  • If you are going to allow your children to drink juices or sports drinks, be sure to water them down and use smaller glasses.
  • If your child tells you they’re thirsty, make water the first beverage you offer them
  • Make it fun! Let them use a crazy straw or let them pick their own special cup they will only use for water.
  • Limit other options — don’t keep sugary drinks around and your child will get used to choosing water.

Encouraging your child to drink more water will keep them hydrated and healthy all year long! For more information regarding the health benefits of staying hydrated or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, contact the experts at Grow Pediatrics today!

Healthy Holiday Habits For Families

Healthy holiday treats

The winter season is a time for celebrating with friends and family, indulging in tasty treats, and a few well earned days of relaxation. However, as the holidays approach and winter continues, your kids will have extended time off school, the days will be short, and more than likely they’ll be spending more time indoors. Additionally, families tend to eat heavier comfort food so staying healthy is difficult this time of year. Typically from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, the average weight gain is 3-10 pounds. While this may seem insignificant, it could result in future health problems and the development of bad habits. But don’t panic! If you’re looking for healthy holiday tips for kids there are plenty of ways to encourage your child to keep the treats to a minimum, keep activities high, and everyone’s stress low.

Healthy Holiday Treats

Treats featuring fruit, veggies, or high protein foods are a perfect alternative to snacks saturated with sugar or fat and are a great way to keep kids healthy during celebrations. Keep your holiday meals filled with plenty of vegetables to keep your calorie counts from getting too high.

In addition, keep an eye on portion size as holiday meals tend to encourage overindulgence. Make sure your children are eating appropriately sized meals, snacks, and treats.

Regular Meal Patterns

The holidays can be hectic for everyone, but keeping your kids’ meals as regular as possible is vital to preventing overeating and overindulging. Avoid eating less to indulge more in a holiday favorite, keep your meals regular so you can still enjoy some of your holiday favorites without eating too much.

You may also want to consider involving your children in the meal prepping process. Let them help in selecting healthy meal recipes and get them in the kitchen to learn how to prepare their own food. Teaching them about healthy eating habits at a young age will leave a lasting impact on their overall health and self-sufficiency.

Stay Active

This doesn’t mean you need to hit the gym for two hours with your kids in tow — there are plenty of ways to keep the whole family active without involving free weights! Winter weather offers plenty of outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy including:

– Ice skating
– Ice hockey
– Snowball fights
– Building snowmen
– Sledding
– Skiing/Snowboarding

Don’t let the cold weather keep your family cooped up in the house, get outside and make sure everyone gets to burn off some energy.

If the weather is not ideal for playing outside, get creative with some indoor activities. Avoid screen time as much as possible so your children still get plenty of exercise. Here are a few ideas:

– Cook holiday meals together
– Plan a scavenger hunt
– Play a board game
– Build a fort
– Play hide and seek
– Do chores together

Get Plenty of Rest

Sleep and taking time to relax is always important, but the stress and excitement of the holidays can take an extra toll on you and your family. Getting enough sleep will keep the whole family happy and healthy as you begin the new year.

However, make sure your kids aren’t sleeping in too much during winter break. Ensure they wake up around the same time each day so going back to school won’t be a huge shock to their system.

Enjoy Yourself!

This time of year is magical and festive for all, and it’s especially important to remember to treat yourself. Don’t let the stress of the holidays keep you from relaxing and celebrating with loved ones. Kick back and enjoy a hot mug of cider by the fire and watch your favorite holiday film or read your favorite book. It’s a magical time of year, after all!

Looking for a way to stay active this season while also giving back to your community? Check out our blog on holiday volunteer opportunities for families.

MythBusters: Fake News Regarding The Flu Shot

Woman giving child flu vaccine

 

As the holidays approach, so does a not-so-pleasant time of year — flu season. Whether you vaccinate your children or are considering vaccinating them for the first time, having the facts is imperative to your family’s health and safety. However, there are several skewed pieces of information out there regarding influenza and the vaccine which could prevent you from taking the proper precautions. So, what are common flu vaccine misconceptions?

A Flu Shot Causes The Flu

Flu shots do not cause the onset of flu symptoms. You may notice some side effects such as soreness, redness, or possible swelling at the injection spot. In rare cases, there may be instances of headaches, a low grade fever, or potential muscle aches.

When a flu vaccine is made, it is either conceived from an inactive flu virus that is no longer infectious, or without any flu viruses such as in the case of the recombinant vaccine. A vaccine does not contain active flu viruses that can cause the illness.

Getting the Flu Is Better For Your Immune System

Absolutely not! Influenza is a serious disease that can have serious complications and can even be fatal. This is particularly true amongst young children, senior citizens, or those with certain chronic health conditions.

Even amongst the healthiest of children and adults, the flu can mean hospitalization and even death. Vaccination is by far a safer choice than risking a dangerous illness to strengthen your immune system.

Pregnant Women Should Not Get Vaccinated

No way! Pregnant women or people with pre-existing conditions do not need to avoid vaccinations or require special consent from their doctor.

If you have any concerns about receiving vaccinations during pregnancy or for any other reason, consult with your primary care provider.

A Flu Vaccine Won’t Protect You From New Strains

Getting vaccinated helps your body fight off the strains included in the current vaccine, but it also helps your immune system fight off any other strains that may inevitably develop. This is also why the vaccine is updated every year, to keep your body up to date on the latest flu strains and keep your immune system strong. Additionally, the effectiveness of the vaccine declines after one year, and staying up to date is important.

Don’t fear flu season, and don’t fear the flu vaccine! The positives for vaccinating you and your family far outweigh any possible negatives, and protecting your loved ones from a potentially fatal disease in a time when it is the most prevalent is the safest choice to make.

For further information regarding flu vaccinations, contact the experts at Grow Pediatrics today!

5 Best Holiday Volunteer Opportunities in Minnesota for Families

Family volunteers at local soup kitchen

For many of us, the holidays are a busy time of year, especially when it comes to gift giving. As you check off presents on your shopping list, make time to volunteer with your family, and give a gift that impacts those around you. It’s a great way to teach your children about the spirit of giving, as well as encourage a more empathetic mindset. Here’s where to find holiday volunteer opportunities in Minnesota.

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5 Ways to Encourage Physical Activity This Winter With Your Kids

Little kids being pulled in a sled by father

While it’s easy for your kids to run outside during the summer, it’s much more difficult to keep up that level of activity during the colder months. Temperatures are dropping, which means it’s much more appealing to stay inside and curl up with a blanket. However, there are plenty of fun activities you can do indoors with your family (and a few outdoor ones too). Here are 5 techniques to encourage physical activity with your kids.

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5 Simple DIY Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids for Under $25

October is coming to a close, which means Halloween is upon us. For some people, the scariest part of this spooky holiday is coming up with a good costume idea.

You want something fun and original, but you don’t want to break the bank doing it. You also shudder at the thought of buying a $50 costume for one night. This is why many people opt for a homemade costume.

The idea of a homemade costume can be daunting to many, but it doesn’t have to be a scary task. DIY costumes can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. Need some inspiration? Here are 5 simple homemade Halloween costume ideas for kids that you can pull off for under $25.

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