Choosing the Right Size Bicycle: Tips for Parents

It’s getting warmer out and most children are ready to get on their bikes and go for a spin! Here are some useful tips from the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) to ensure you do not start your spring off with a trip to the E.R.

A bicycle of the wrong size may cause your child to lose control and be injured. Any bike must be the correct size for the child for whom it is bought.

To keep your child safe, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following tips:

•Do not push your child to ride a 2-wheeled bike until he or she is ready, at about age 5.

•Take your child with you when you shop for the bike, so that he or she can try it out. The value of a properly fitting bike far outweighs the value of surprising your child with a new bike.

•Buy a bike that is the right size, not one your child has to “grow into.” Oversized bikes are especially dangerous.

•How to test any style of bike for proper fit:

◦Sitting on the seat with hands on the handlebar, your child must be able to place the balls of both feet on the ground.

◦Straddling the center bar, your child should be able to stand with both feet flat on the ground with about a 1-inch clearance between the crotch and the bar.

◦When buying a bike with hand brakes for an older child, make sure that the child can comfortably grasp the brakes and apply sufficient pressure to stop the bike.

•A helmet should be standard equipment. Whenever buying a bike, be sure you have a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)-approved helmet for your child. See Bicycle Helmets: What Every Parent Should Know for more information.

•Consider the child’s coordination and desire to learn to ride. Stick with coaster brakes until your child is older and more experienced.​


Physically Active Teaching Improves Math & Spelling Scores

​​​The study, “Physically Active Math and Language Lessons Improve Academic Achievement: A Cluster RCT,” in the March 2016 issue of Pediatrics (published online Feb. 24) examined whether adding physical activity could help children better learn math and spelling.

Researchers in the Netherlands worked with 499 children in second and third grade. They were placed in two groups; one continued with standard lessons, while the other participated in the “Fit & Vaardig” program — a series of lessons in which physical exercise is used when teaching math and language.

After two years, children in the Fit & Vaardig group showed greater gains in math and spelling standardized test scores compared to children in the control group. In fact, the increases in scores were equal to four months more learning in comparison with the control group. No differences were found on the reading test.

The authors conclude that physically active teaching lessons improve math and spelling skills and offer a promising new way of teaching.

At Commonwealth Pediatrics we encourage you to encourage your children to be active and get as much physical activity as possible. It really does make a difference!

Published by 2/24/2016

American Academy of Pediatrics Urges Parents to Vaccinate Children to Protect Against Measles

A measles outbreak that began at Disneyland in California – and has grown to more than 50 confirmed cases in multiple states – is a stark reminder of our nation’s responsibility to protect our most vulnerable citizens. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and its 62,000 member pediatricians urges parents, schools and communities to commit to protecting our nation’s infants, children, adolescents and adults with the most effective tool we have – vaccination.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that spreads easily through the air or on infected surfaces. It causes rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red watery eyes; people who are infected with measles can spread the virus up to four days before they develop symptoms. In rare cases it can cause encephalitis that can lead to deafness or mental retardation. Of every 1,000 people who get measles, 1 to 2 will die.

“A family vacation to an amusement park – or a trip to the grocery store, a football game or school – should not result in children becoming sickened by an almost 100 percent preventable disease,” said AAP Executive Director/CEO Errol R. Alden, MD, FAAP. “We are fortunate to have an incredibly effective tool that can prevent our children from suffering. That is so rare in medicine.

“Vaccines are one of the most important ways parents can protect their children from very real diseases that exist in our world,” Dr. Alden said. “The measles vaccine is safe and effective. The AAP urges parents to have their children immunized against measles, as well as other infectious diseases, and to talk with their child’s pediatrician if they have questions about any of their child’s recommended vaccines,”

The AAP, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend children receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine at age 12-15 months, and again at 4-6 years. High immunization rates in a community will protect those who cannot be vaccinated, including infants under 12 months of age. These infants are at the highest risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death due to measles.

“Measles virus is one of the most contagious viruses in humans,” said Yvonne Maldonado, MD, FAAP, vice chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases. “Delaying vaccination leaves children vulnerable to measles when it is most dangerous to their development, and it also affects the entire community. We see measles spreading most rapidly in communities with higher rates of delayed or missed vaccinations. Declining vaccination for your child puts other children at risk, including infants who are too young to be vaccinated, and children who are especially vulnerable due to certain medications they’re taking.”

More information about MMR vaccine is available at and

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.

– See more at:

Winter Safety Tips

Whether winter brings severe storms, light dustings or just cold temperatures, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some valuable tips on how to keep your children safe and warm.
What to Wear
• Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities. Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm. Don’t forget warm boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat.
• The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
• Blankets, quilts, pillows, bumpers, sheepskins and other loose bedding should be kept out of an infant’s sleeping enviroment because they are associated with suffocation dealths and may contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Sleep clothing like one-piece sleepers or wearable blankets is preferred.
• If a blanket must be used to keep a sleeping infant warm, it should be tucked in around the crib mattress, reaching only as far as the baby’s chest, so the infant’s face is less likely to become covered by bedding materials.
• Hypothermia develops when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to exposure to colder temperatures. It often happens when a youngster is playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing or when clothes get wet. It can occur more quickly in children than in adults.
• As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy. Speech may become slurred and body temperature will decline in more severe cases.
• If you suspect your child is hypothermic, call 911 at once. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap him in blankets or warm clothes.
• Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose. They may become pale, gray and blistered. At the same time, the child may complain that his/her skin burns or has become numb.
• If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of her body in warm (not hot) water. 104° Fahrenheit (about the temperature of most hot tubs) is recommended. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears and lips.
• Do not rub the frozen areas.
• After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give him/her something warm to drink.
• If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.
Winter Health
• If your child suffers from winter nosebleeds, try using a cold air humidifier in the child’s room at night. Saline nose drops or petrolatum may help keep nasal tissues moist. If bleeding is severe or recurrent, consult your pediatrician.
• Many pediatricians feel that bathing two or three times a week is enough for an infant’s first year. More frequent baths may dry out the skin, especially during the winter.
• Cold weather does not cause colds or flu. But the viruses that cause colds and flu tend to be more common in the winter, when children are in school and are in closer contact with each other. Frequent hand washing and teaching your child to sneeze or cough into the bend of her elbow may help reduce the spread of colds and flu.
• Children 6 months of age and up should get the influenza vaccine to reduce their risk of catching the flu.
Winter Sports and Activities
• Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Have children come inside periodically to warm up.
• Using alcohol or drugs before any winter activity, like snowmobiling or skiing, is dangerous and should not be permitted in any situation.
Ice Skating
• Allow children to skate only on approved surfaces. Check for signs posted by local police or recreation departments, or call your local police department to find out which areas have been approved.
• Advise your child to:
o Skate in the same direction as the crowd
o Avoid darting across the ice
o Never skate alone
o Not chew gum or eat candy while skating.
o Consider having your child wear a helmet, knee and elbow pads, especially while learning to skate.
• Keep sledders away from motor vehicles.
• Children should be supervised while sledding.
• Keep young children separated from older children.
• Sledding feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, may prevent head injuries.
• Consider having your child wear a helmet while sledding.
• Use steerable sleds, not snow disks or inner tubes.
• Sleds should be structurally sound and free of sharp edges and splinters, and the steering mechanism should be well lubricated.
• Sled slopes should be free of obstructions like trees or fences, be covered in snow not ice, not be too steep (slope of less than 30º), and end with a flat runoff.
• Avoid sledding in crowded areas.
Snow Skiing and Snowboarding
• Children should be taught to ski or snowboard by a qualified instructor in a program designed for children.
• Never ski or snowboard alone.
• Young children should always be supervised by an adult. Older children’s need for adult supervision depends on their maturity and skill. If older children are not with an adult, they should always at least be accompanied by a friend.
• All skiers and snowboarders should wear helmets. Ski facilities should require helmet use, but if they do not, parents should enforce the requirement for their children.
• Equipment should fit the child. Skiers should wear safety bindings that are adjusted at least every year. Snowboarders should wear gloves with built-in wrist guards. Eye protection or goggles should also be used.
• Slopes should fit the ability and experience of the skier or snowboarder. Avoid crowded slopes.
• Avoid skiing in areas with trees and other obstacles.
• The AAP recommends that children under age 16 not operate snowmobiles and that children under age 6 never ride on snowmobiles.
• Do not use a snowmobile to pull a sled or skiers.
• Wear goggles and a safety helmet approved for use on motorized vehicles like motorcycles.
• Travel at safe speeds.
• Never snowmobile alone or at night.
• Stay on marked trails, away from roads, water, railroads and pedestrians.
Sun Protection
• The sun’s rays can still cause sunburn in the winter, especially when they reflect off snow. Make sure to cover your child’s exposed skin with sunscreen and consider using sunglasses.
Fire Protection
Winter is a time when household fires occur. It is a good time to remember to:
• Buy and install smoke alarms on every floor of your home
• Test smoke alarms monthly
• Practice fire drills with your children
• Install a carbon monoxide detector outside bedrooms
• Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that could burn, and turn them off when leaving the room or sleeping.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics.

One Step Away…

While sitting at the lunch table last week with my kindergarten class, a 5 year old student asked “Did I tell you about having to write a letter to the north pole!?!?” I answered, “NO! Why would you have to do that?!?!” He explained that he and his siblings had been bad, and were fussing while at their Grandparents house for Thanksgiving. I asked if that meant he was on the naughty list. He replied “NOPE! BUT ONE OVER FROM IT!!” Today, the same child was getting a little close to “Elfie” our Elf on The Shelf. I reminded him, that should he touch her she would lose all of her magic and he would have to write another letter to the North Pole. He looked up at me wide eyed, and ever so serious and said “It’ll be the Naughty list for sure!!!!!” As he slowly backed up, making sure to put some distance between the elf and himself, making sure to keep himself “one over” from the naughty list!

Teaching Assistant
Fayette County Public Schools




Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of year. We really should give thanks all year long but sometimes in this hectic world we forget. Let’s all take the time to give thanks this month.
We have been asking a monthly question to our patients (the children). We love hearing from them! It is so refreshing to see the point of view from a child. Please submit your children’s answers as well. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families!

Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to help ensure they have a safe holiday.

All Dressed Up:
Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.a
When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.
Carving a Niche:
Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.
Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.
Home Safe Home:
To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.
On the Trick-or-Treat Trail:
A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind trick-or-treaters:
Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
Never cut across yards or use alleys.
Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.
Healthy Halloween:
A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.
Healthy Children Radio: Halloween Safety (Audio)
Whether dressing up in costumes, trick-or-treating, or having parties with their friends, most kids love Halloween. But did you know that Halloween is also a time when more children than usual end up in the emergency room due to falls, traffic collisions and other injuries? All the sweets in the house (and at school) can also wreak havoc on a child’s teeth and healthy diet.

The bottom line- have fun but stay safe!