How to Protect Your Baby From Whooping Cough

Whooping cough, or Pertussis, is a potentially deadly respiratory tract infection. Though there is a vaccine to protect against this infection, it is only fully effective when three shots have been administered, one a two months, one at four months, and one at six months. This means that infants under six months are most likely to contract the disease – though young adults who miss their booster shots are also at a higher risk.

How To Protect Your Child

During the third trimester of pregnancy, it is extremely important that mothers receive a dose of the vaccine. By doing so, you not only give your infant some short-term protection, but it also ensures that the mother will not pass Pertussis to her child after birth. Because Pertussis is spread by the cough or sneeze of an infected person, this is also true for anyone who will be in close contact with the baby – the father, grandparents, other relatives, siblings, etc. – anyone who will be around the child need to ensure that they are up to date on their vaccines. If they are not, they need to wait two weeks after getting an updated vaccine for it to take full effect.

As an infant and young child, it is recommended that your baby receives a total of five Pertussis vaccines at the following times:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 15-18 months
  • 4-6 years

This is due to the fact that the vaccine decreases in strength overtime. It is also recommended that your child receive booster shots when they are between 11 and 18 years of age, as well as one when they are 19 or older.*

When To Head To The Doctor

Whooping cough mimics the symptoms of the common cold at first, but will continue for weeks. If your child has experienced sneezing, a running or stuffy nose, and a mild fever with coughing that has increased after a week or two, it’s time to consider a visit to your provider.

This disease differs from the common cold in that after the first few weeks, it can develop into severe coughing fits that are violent and rapid, causing the loud “whooping” sound as one inhales quickly. With that said, it is extremely important to note that in many cases of whooping cough, infants do not cough at all. Instead, the disease causes them to have difficulty, or stop breathing all together.

If you are concerned that your child may have whooping cough, don’t hesitate to visit your provider right away.


My Child Has An Earache – What Should I Do?

One of the most common reasons children are brought in for medical appointments is to deal with an ear infection. The most common form of ear infection is “acute otitis media,” a bacterial or viral infection that affects the middle ear. The discomfort your child might feel from a middle ear infection is the result of fluid build up behind the eardrum.


How Did My Child Get an Ear Infection?

Children are more likely to get an ear infection than adults for a variety of reasons. The most common cause is because children’s middle ears are a different size and shape than adults. In fact, the National Institute of Health states that five out of six children will have at least one ear infection before they turn three years old. Ear infections don’t always manifest by themselves, either. They often appear with the common cold, the flu, strep throat, and sinus infections.

What Kinds of Symptoms Should I Look For?

If your child is old enough, he or she will probably let you know his or her ear hurts. If your child doesn’t tell you his or her symptoms, or isn’t able to communicate that information yet, you may notice a fever or drainage of fluid from the ear. You might also see the child tugging at his or her ears or notice that your child is more irritable, sleeping less easily, acting less balanced, or crying more than usual. You can help your child feel a bit better in the mean time by placing a warm, moist washcloth over the ear – or ears – that hurt.

When Should I See A Provider?

If the symptoms and discomfort continue for more than 24-hours, you should bring your child in for an exam. Your pediatrician may prescribe antibiotics or recommend OTC medicines like acetaminophen or eardrops – but these treatments vary with the age of your child.

The best action to take when you suspect your child has an ear infection is by keeping an eye on his or her symptoms and to make an appointment with your provider if the discomfort persists.



A Quick Guide to Keeping Holiday Allergies in Check

The holidays are a time for fun festive gatherings and spending time with those you love most. But unfortunately, it’s also the season for heightened allergies. Instead of suffering – or watching your child suffer – from these seasonal allergies, there are several things you can do to avoid or reduce the impact of allergy symptoms.

holiday allergies

Causes of Holiday Allergies

Holiday Food – During the holidays, we’re surrounding by food, and in many cases, food that we did not prepare ourselves. This can lead to accidently ingesting ingredients that we are allergic to. This is especially true for children, so it is important that you pay attention to what your child eats.

Decorations – Wreaths, trees, and other holiday greenery is beautiful, festive, and a breeding ground for mold spores.

Pets – Your furry friend is part of the family too, and during this time of the year pets are often indoors more, which means more prevalent pet dander.

These factors, combined with the fact that there is less ventilation and increased furnace use can make for an uncomfortable environment for allergy sufferers.


How to Avoid/Control Symptoms

Food – Because food allergies can be extremely dangerous, it is important to know what you or your child is eating. Ask friends and family for a rundown of ingredients for dishes you are unfamiliar with, and always carry an Epi-pen if anyone in your family has a severe food allergy.

Decorations – Want to avoid the mold and mildew associated with live greenery? Artificial trees and other decorations provide an attractive and simple alternative.

Pets – To help reduce pet dander you should wash your pet before guests arrive, but the most effective way to ensure that you and your family aren’t suffering due to Fido? Wash your hands and face frequently, and have your children do the same.


When to See a Doctor

If you’ve followed the tips above, and aren’t really sure what’s causing you or your child’s symptoms; it may be time to see an allergist. By doing so you can get specific information about ways to manage these allergies or avoid them all together.

Fall Family Fun: Outdoor Activities to Enjoy Together

Fall Fun | Family-friendly Outdoor Activities for fall

One of the greatest benefits of fall is the beautiful weather it provides for healthy family-friendly outdoor activities. Whether you have young children or teens, there are tons of fun outdoor activities that promote health and well-being while providing you with quality time together. You can use this bonding time to build new skills or expand your family’s horizons by exploring new parts of your city or state. Here are a few of our favorite fun activities for fall:


Who says yard work has to be work? Turn raking from a chore into a fun family activity that gets everyone outside and moving! Make a game out of raking by seeing who can rake the biggest pile in a set amount of time or, if your kids are younger, have a leaf-pile jumping competition. Check out some more family-friendly raking games here. Your yard will be looking great in no time and, better yet, you’ll enjoy the process!

Walking or Hiking

Walking and hiking are both fun outdoor activities for fall that allow you to enjoy the vibrant foliage and get some exercise at the same time. It’s never too early to get your little one outside with you! Check out family-friendly resources like Hike it Baby to help you plan your adventure, or consider joining them on one of their new parent walks. You can also keep young children engaged with a fall-themed scavenger hunt. This is a creative way to keep kids’ energy focused and to encourage them to interact with nature. Consider bringing along a magnifying glass to look at their finds and a small bag to keep treasures in! Start your adventure by looking at planning resources like maps and trail reviews through Explore Minnesota or


Get your family moving and grooving this fall by hopping on your bikes and checking out some local trails. Whether everyone is old enough to ride or you’re toting a youngster behind you, biking is a fun way to enjoy the crisp air in a way that promotes health and wellness. You can even consider planning a day trip with scenic stops along the way that you can all enjoy together. Before you go, explore the state’s best kid-friendly trails and don’t forget to pack some healthy snacks!

No matter what outdoor activity you choose to enjoy this fall, you’re sure to form lasting memories with your family while promoting health and wellness in a fun way.

Healthy Kid-Friendly Fall Recipes for the Whole Family

Fall is a spectacular time of year to capitalize on fresh produce. Vegetables like sweet potatoes, zucchini, squash, and cauliflower are wonderful editions to any mealtime – adding a nutritious boost to keep you and your family full and healthy. Here are some of the benefits of each of these delectable ingredients, and some recipes that your whole family will enjoy!

healthy kid friendly recipes

Sweet Potatoes

These power packed root vegetables make a spectacular side dish or addition to any main course! Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin A to promote healthy blood sugar levels, support eye health, and even provide anti-inflammatory properties. Not to mention, they’re delicious! Here are some healthy kid friendly recipes featuring sweet potatoes that will keep everybody happy.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries


  • Sweet Potatoes (3 large should feed a family of 3-4, add more for larger families or larger servings)
  • Corn Starch
  • Coconut or Olive Oil

*This recipe varies based on the amount and size of the sweet potatoes you use.


  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
  • Wash and chop your sweet potatoes into shoestring fries
  • Place fries in a large zip lock bag, ensuring that you have enough space that the fries can move when the bag is shaken – if you do not have this space, use two bags.
  • Spoon a small amount of cornstarch into the bag(s) and shake. Repeat until fries are evenly coated – not caked – in cornstarch.
  • Now, spoon a small amount of oil (if coconut, melted) into the bag and shake to coat. Start slowly. You do not want to saturate the fries, simply coat them so that the cornstarch can no longer be seen.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake for 40 minutes, flipping fries after 20 minutes.
  • Let cool – a little – and enjoy!

If you’re looking for a great way to incorporate this veggie into your morning meal, check out this recipe for sweet potato pancakes! You won’t be disappointed.



Full of healthy fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, zucchini is a vegetable option you can’t beat. With high levels of vitamins C and B6, as well as potassium and phosphorous, zucchini provides health benefits ranging from reducing cardiovascular diseases to helping prevent cancer. Plus, this vegetable can be substituted into your kids’ favorite meals to create healthier versions that still taste amazing.

Zucchini Pizza Boats


  • 4 medium size zucchini
  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • ½ c. shredded parmesan reggiano cheese
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 c. pizza sauce
  • 1 package pepperoni, optional


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Slice zucchini in half length-wise.
  • Using a melon-baller or spoon, scoop out the inside of the zucchini halves and set aside.
  • Finely chop half of the leftover zucchini insides – save the other half for later meals.
  • Add chopped zucchini, oregano, basil, thyme, olive oil, and ¼ c. of parmesan to a medium bowl and mix.
  • Drizzle small amount of olive oil along the inside of the scooped out zucchini boats and layer the bottom with pepperoni – if desired.
  • Next, layer the pizza sauce, chopped zucchini mixture, and the remained cheese on the boats.
  • Place on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Let cool – slightly – and enjoy!

For another kid-friendly favorite, check out this recipe for zucchini noodles!


Butternut Squash

One of the best sources of vitamin A outside of dietary supplements, Butternut squash is a delicious and nutrition packed vegetable that can be served in a variety of ways that your kids (and you!) will enjoy. Full of fiber, antioxidants, and minerals like zinc, iron, and calcium, this vegetable will help protect skin health, eyesight, and overall immune function.

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese


  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 12 oz. package of pasta (macaroni or pasta of your preference)
  • 1 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion – diced
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced
  • ½ tsp. curry
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper – to taste


  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut butternut squash in half, seed and set on baking sheet skin side down.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until the skin can be easily pricked with a fork.
  • While the butternut squash is baking, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook your pasta.
  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3-5 minutes, then add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Scrape squash flesh from skin and place in a blender. Add garlic, onion, curry, thyme, and broth. Puree until smooth.
  • Return the puree to the skillet over medium heat. Add pasta, salt, and pepper. Stir until well combined and dish.
  • Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

For another easy and delicious kid-friendly butternut squash recipe, check out how to make butternut squash soup.



A good source of vitamin C, K, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, and more, cauliflower is one of the healthiest cruciferous vegetables you can eat. Because of the vitamin and mineral make up of this veggie, it supports several essential systems within the body, helping to detoxify and reduce inflammation, and even reducing the risk of several cancers. This versatile food is a fantastic addition to a variety of dishes including:

Cauliflower Tots


  • 2 c. cooked cauliflower florets – finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • ½ c. onion – minced
  • 3 tbsp. fresh parsley – minced
  • ½ c. sharp cheddar cheese – grated
  • ½ c. seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • non-stick cooking spray


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients.
  • Spoon 1 tbsp. of the mixture into your hands and roll into small ovals (tot shapes!). Place on baking sheet and bake for 16-18 minutes, flipping the tots halfway through.

If you’d like to make a healthier pizza for your kids, try this recipe for cauliflower pizza crust!

Procedures at Dakota Pediatrics Average 25-30% Less Than Average

Preliminary results of an MN Community Measurements (MNCM) report show that the typical costs of common procedures provided by the trusted staff at Dakota Pediatrics ranks as one of the most inexpensive across the state. (View full report here).

The study compares the total amount paid by both insurance and patient accountability, between the four major Minnesota health plans including: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners, Medica and PreferredOne. The chosen procedures to compare were based on volume of claims and commonality so patients can easily compare what you pay now, to what you may pay for procedures across several providers.

Dakota Pediatrics Blog

Our focus at Dakota Pediatrics is first and foremost the health of your family. We strive to personalize each visit for every patient and believe that exceptional care should not be costly or simply unattainable.

Learn more about the services offered at Dakota Pediatrics for your family today!

How Much Sleep Does My Child Need? A Guide for Parents

Whether you’ve just brought your newborn home from the hospital, you’re dealing with the terrible twos, or are the proud parent of a ten year old, ensuring that your child gets the right amount of sleep is essential to keeping them happy and healthy. The sleep your child gets each night impacts both their mental and physical development, which means establishing regular sleep patterns is extremely important. Below, we’ll talk about how much sleep your child needs, no matter what their age, and provide some tips to helping them get enough ‘Z’s. These are general guidelines for most children, if you have any specific questions or concerns about your child, making an appointment with your provider will give you an individualized guidance and sleep strategies that work for you and your family. One size does not fit all when it comes to sleep!


Newborns (0-3 months)

At this stage of your child’s life, not only are they going to need a lot of sleep, but their sleep-wake cycles – or Circadian rhythms – have not been established. This means that your child will sleep between 10.5 and 18 hours a day at intervals of anywhere between a few minutes to several hours. Their sleep will likely appear restless, with plenty of twitching, smiling, and squirming.


Tips for Getting your Newborn to Sleep:

  • Pay attention to how your baby acts when he or she is tired, and try to put baby in his or her crib when they are tired – but not asleep – as often as possible. This will help baby learn to fall asleep on his or her own.
  • Encourage your newborn to sleep less during the day by playing with them as well as exposing them to stimulation such as light and noise. While providing a more calming environment in the evening.
  • When putting your child to sleep, lay them on their back with their faces and heads completely free of any blankets or soft items.


Infants (4-11 months)

Infancy is the stage during which sleep patterns are learned. At this age, your child will need between 9-12 hours of sleep at night, with supplemental 30 minute to 2-hour naps throughout the day. In the earlier months, your child may have some issues sleeping through the night, though 70-80 percent of children will have no problem with this by the time they reach nine months of age.

Infancy is also the time during which attachment and social development can impact sleep. Your child may express some separation anxiety, which can make bedtime more difficult. To combat this, continue to put your infant to bed when they are tired, but not asleep, which will help them to learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own.


Tips for Getting your Infant to Sleep:

  • Consistency is key – develop a regular bedtime schedule and routine so that your child can develop regular sleep patterns.
  • Create a comfortable, “sleep-friendly” environment free of stimulating lights and sounds.


Toddlers (1-2 years)

Toddlers can seem like unstoppable little balls of energy at times, but at this stage, your child needs between 11-14 hours of sleep per day/night. Naps become a once-a-day ritual and should occur earlier in the day to avoid a disruption in nighttime sleep. Sleep problems are common for Toddlers, including resistance at bedtime, nightmares, and nighttime wakefulness. This can be a difficult stage.


Tips for Getting your Toddler to Sleep:

  • Have an established bedtime and bedtime ritual, as well as consistency with naps.
  • If your child is having a difficult time sleeping, it is important that rules are set and enforced. If they are afraid, giving them a security blanket or stuffed animal can help them to soothe their fears and establish healthy sleep habits.


Preschoolers (3-5 years)

At this stage, your child’s imagination has the tendency to run wild, which can lead to issues ranging from general fear of the night to sleepwalking to night terrors. Your child still needs 11-13 hours of sleep, and as naps become less frequent, an established sleep schedule is essential.


Tips for Getting your Preschooler to Sleep:

  • Introduce a relaxing ritual, like reading before bed, in the room in which your child sleeps.
  • Consistency is still extremely important. Your child should sleep in the same room, and observe a set bedtime.
  • Though your child may love TV at this point, watching TV before bed, especially in their sleeping environment, is ill advised.


School-aged Children (6-13 years)

At this age, your child needs between 9-11 hours of sleep per night. Demands on your child’s time and energy are increasing, with homework, sports, friends, and more. Your child is also likely to consume more caffeine, and participate in a growing amount of “screen-time” – on computers, watching TV, on mobile devices – all things which can negatively impact your child’s sleep quality and duration.


Tips for Getting your School-aged Child to Sleep:

  • Talk to your children, and teach them about healthy sleep patterns.
  • Keep a consistent bedtime.
  • Keep computers and televisions our of your child’s room.
  • Avoid giving your children caffeine, and talk to them about caffeine consumption as they head into their teens.


Sleep can be a difficult thing for children, so help your child get the sleep they need by paying attention to bedtimes, bedtime rituals, and the amount of sleep that is appropriate for their age.

A ‘Pear’-fect Fall Snack

Pears are perfectly in season this September, which provides a fantastic snack and meal option for families with picky-eaters. Not only do pears taste amazing, but because they are chalk full of vitamins, phytonutrients (nutrients that come from fruits and vegetables), and antioxidants they offer many significant health benefits!

pear-fect fall snack

Pears are a good source of:

  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin C
  • Copper
  • Pectin (water soluble fiber)
  • Potassium


These vitamins and minerals, in combination with a host of phytonutrients make pears an inflammation-fighting powerhouse that has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. With its mild taste and easy digestibility, pear is an outstanding choice for people of any age, even infants!


Here are some of our favorite, kid-friendly pear recipes for the whole family to enjoy:

Cinnamon Baked Pears:

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10-12 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients –

  • 4 pears, halved and skinned
  • 4 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/3-cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Baking Instructions –

  1. Place pear halves in a baking dish
  2. Brush pears generously with butter
  3. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon
  4. Bake 10-12 minutes, or longer if pears have not warmed through
  5. Serve and enjoy!


Spiced Pear Baked Oatmeal:

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25-35 minutes

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients –

  • 2¼ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1¾-cup milk (or almond milk)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3-cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup diced pears (about 1 pear)

Baking Instructions –

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Combine oats, spices, and baking powder in a mixing bowl
  3. Beat the egg in a second bowl. Then stir in milk, vanilla, and syrup
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold in the pears
  5. Grease a square baking dish. Pour oatmeal into the baking dish and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until set and beginning to brown
  6. Serve immediately, or let cool and cut into 6-8 pieces if you want to freeze them


Crescent Roll Pear Turnovers:

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients –

  • 1 can sliced pears, drained or 1 lb. of fresh pears sliced
  • 1 can crescent roll dough
  • 2 tsp. butter, melted
  • cinnamon sugar, to taste

Baking Instructions –

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Unroll crescent dough, separating into 8 triangles (keep matching pairs together)
  3. Place 1 or 2 slices of pear in the center of one dough triangle
  4. Cover with matching triangle and pinch closed along the edges
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have four turnovers
  6. Brush melted butter over the tops and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar
  7. Place turnovers on parchment paper and bake for 11-15 minutes, or until golden
  8. Cool and serve!


Or, if you don’t feel like making anything, simply slice, serve, and eat! Mixing these healthful fruits into your family’s diet is a fantastic way to keep everybody healthy and happy.