Thursday, October 18, 2012

Got Breastmilk?

Got Breastmilk?
By Becky Jermeay, MA, RD

Breastmilk is the perfect food for babies and offers babies the healthiest start in life.   The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding through the entire first year of life or for as long as mutually desirable.  In summary, the academy states that human milk is superior to formula due it its many health benefits that cannot be replicated.
Just in case you’re not convinced yet that breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby, check out the following benefits:
  • Decreased risk for ear infections
  • Decreased risk for diarrhea and other gastrointestinal disorders
  • Decreased risk for diabetes
  • Decreased risk for overweight and obesity as an adult
  • Decreased risk for childhood cancers such as leukemia
  • Increased immune response to childhood vaccinations
  • Decreased risk for hypertension as an adult
  •  Decreased risk for high cholesterol as an adult
Even though research shows that breastmilk is best, a recent survey from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that while 85% of new mothers plan to breastfeed exclusively for 3 months or more, only 32.4% of mothers actually achieve this goal.  Some of the reasons that new mothers may not reach their breastfeeding goals include:    

  • Poor family and social support
  • Lack of knowledge about breastfeeding and how to make it successful
  • Early lactation problems that are often avoidable if identified and treated early
  • Social norms that support a formula feeding culture
  • Embarrassment, especially about breastfeeding in public
There are many activities and resources in our community working to help moms breastfeed successfully. Allegiance Health recently announced that they are in the process of becoming a Baby Friendly Hospital.  Baby Friendly Hospitals implement the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding as outlined by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.  Studies show that Baby Friendly Hospitals have significantly higher breastfeeding rates.    

If you would like more information about breastfeeding or need a little support, please contact any of the following agencies or individuals:

  • Allegiance Health Lactation Support Department – 788-4940
  • La Leche League – A mother-to-mother breastfeeding support group that meets on the 2nd Monday of every month.  Leaders are also available to do telephone consultations.
    • Jennifer – 517-592-4750
    • Melissa  – 784-6965
    • Nancy  – 787-2814
    • Shaun – 784-3572
    • Facebook - La Leche League of Jackson, MI
    • Website –
  • WIC – 788-4484
  • MSU Extension – 788-4292
  • Center for Family Health – 748-5500

Friday, March 2, 2012

Identifying and Labeling Your Child's Emotions

Emotions are new and can be somewhat overwhelming for very young children.  Infants and toddlers can be easily overwhelmed by their emotions in different situations.  A first step in helping babies to learn to manage their emotions includes helping them to learn and recognize their own feelings.  When we, as parents label and/or identify emotions, a child can turn a scary or uncomfortable feeling into something that is normal and identifiable. 

One very important way babies learn about emotions, is by watching their parents facial expressions.  For instance, often when a baby sees mom or dad smile, he will also smile.  Likewise, showing a baby an angry or sad face can be upsetting to them.  So, when we have an argument with a family member, we know that it is important to be careful about how we show strong feelings in front of babies.  This does not mean that we should not show a range of emotions to babies, but it helps us to recognize that babies are always watching us as parents, and, in turn, learning how to organize their own emotions. 

About our guest blogger:

Shelley Hawver has been Manager of the Early Head Start Program at Community Action Agency in Jackson and Hillsdale Counties, (Michigan) for the past fifteen years.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan, as well as Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Sociology from Spring Arbor University.  She has an endorsement through the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health as a level IV mentor. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tooth Tips for Parents

While many parents understand that “baby teeth” start to come in around 6 months of age, few understand that the last baby tooth is not lost until around age 12.  This explains why dental visits should begin around 12 months of age. Cavities can form quickly on baby teeth, so it is important to clean the teeth after each feeding and never put a child to bed with juice or milk in a bottle.

Teething can pose special problems, too. Teething babies love to chew on stuff, and a pacifier or wet cold washcloth can come in handy.  Teething pain is usually worse at night and many pediatricians advise ibuprofen (but not for babies under 6 months of age). Other pain relievers such as clove oil, and even Orajel are not recommended.

All the baby teeth are usually erupted by age 2. By this age, the children love to brush by themselves, but really can’t do a great job at it.  Parents should help kids with their brushing up to age 7-8 to make sure the plaque that builds up on teeth (and can cause cavities) is removed.  The way to keep those cavities away is to watch the in-between meal sipping and snacking.  Good snacks are low in sugar, such as carrots and apples. Fruit snacks can be sticky and lead to cavities, so it is good to limit their use.

Keeping teeth healthy for kids really means having a good diet and good brushing habits.  Parents can really help kids develop good oral health habits early, which can be very important as the adult teeth come in.  Health teeth can last a lifetime!
-Dr. Jane Grover, DDS, Dental Director for the Center for Family Health

Monday, January 30, 2012

Flu Season Starts Again!

Unfortunately, we are starting cold and flu season again.  It is the time of year with lots of coughing, runny nose, and fevers.  While scientists have not found a way to help prevent the common cold, they have developed a yearly flu vaccine which can greatly reduce the chance of getting the flu.

Flu is usually a sudden onset of fever, body aches, and headaches.  A sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and cough generally follow. The flu vaccine can help prevent these symptoms.  The vaccine is safe for any child 6 months or older and adults.  There are a few exceptions and these should be discussed with your doctor.  You can not get the flu from getting the flu shot.  We start giving the flu shot at such an early age because younger children have an increased risk of being hospitalized and having more complications from the flu.  There are also more complications for people with chronic health problems such as asthma, COPD, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and kidney disease.  Pregnant women also have more complications if they get the flu while pregnant. If you or someone in your family has any of these or other long term health problems, please talk with your doctor about your flu shot.

Even if your family members get the flu shot, you still need to make sure everyone washes their hands and avoids touching their face.  These two things will decrease the chance of spreading the viruses.  Hopefully, with these and the flu vaccine, we can all have a healthier flu season.

-Dr. Sharon Rouse, D.O. is a Pediatrician at the Center for Family Health

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Questions about Childhood Overweight and Obesity Answered

It seems like everywhere you look these days (magazines, television shows, the internet) the issue of childhood overweight and obesity is a hot topic.   With Michelle Obama joining in with her Let’s Move initiative, the issue has never been more popular.  Statistics tell us that 31.9% of kids and teens are overweight, while 16.3% are obese.  These numbers seem to be growing every year.  

As a Pediatric Dietitian at the Center for Family Health in Jackson, MI, I answer many questions about the issue of childhood overweight and obesity on a daily basis.  Some of these questions include:

  • “Why has my child been diagnosed as overweight or obese?” 
  • “Is childhood overweight or obesity really that big of a deal?”
  • “What can I do to prevent or treat childhood overweight or obesity?”

In an effort to clear up some confusion for parents, I’d like to answer these questions.

Question 1:  “Why has my child been diagnosed as overweight or obese?”

Children are diagnosed as overweight or obese based on a calculation that considers many factors including a child’s height, weight, sex, and age.  This calculation is called Body Mass Index or BMI.  This BMI number is then plotted on a chart and the ranking is used to classify kids as either underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese.  Your child’s pediatrician or doctor is the best person to decide if your child is overweight or obese and what, if any, treatment is needed.

Question 2:  “Is childhood overweight or obesity really that big of a deal?”

Yes.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who are overweight or obese are at a greater risk for many health problems including asthma, sleep apnea, skin infections, joint pain, high blood pressure, and Type II Diabetes.  Overweight or obese kids are also more likely to be teased which may lead to low self-esteem and poor school performance.  Plus, overweight and obese children are more likely to become overweight or obese adults.  The longer a person is overweight or obese, the more likely they are to experience health problems. 

Some people may argue that every child grows differently, and that no two people are shaped the same.  This is very true.  All kids grow and develop at a different pace, and some people are just naturally smaller or bigger than others.  Your child’s pediatrician or doctor can help you understand whether or not your child is growing at a normal pace.   

Question 3:  “What can I do to prevent or treat childhood overweight or obesity?”

There are lots of things that you can do as a parent to help your child be healthy or get healthier.  Below are a few tips that can help you and your family get on the right track.

  • Make some healthy changes to your diet.  A few examples include:
    • Offer a fruit, vegetable or both with every meal and snack.  This doesn’t have to be expensive.  Try buying fruits and vegetables when they are in season and least expensive.  Canned fruits (packed in water or light syrup) and vegetables are inexpensive and nutritious anytime of the year.  Check out the new MyPlate guidelines found at which promotes covering ½ of your plate with a vegetable or fruit. 
    • Switch from white bread to 100% whole wheat bread to increase fiber and nutrients.
    • Buy low-fat milk (1%, ½%, or skim) instead of whole or 2% milk to cut artery clogging saturated fat and calories without sacrificing calcium, protein, and Vitamin D.  Healthy children over the age of 2 can drink low-fat milk. 
    • Offer water, low-fat milk, and small amounts of 100% fruit juice instead of sugary drinks.  One, 12 oz can of soda contains about 10 ½ teaspoons of sugar and up to 150 calories!  Even 100% fruit juice can lead to weight gain if kids drink too much, so most experts recommend that kids not drink more than about ½ cup of juice daily.  Remember, a lot of drinks such as Kool-Aid and Capri Sun may look like juice but are actually just colored, sugar water with added Vitamin C. 
  • Be a good role model.  Buy healthy foods and eat them yourself.  Your child is much more likely to eat healthy if you lead by example.

  • Make family meals a priority.  Research has shown that kids who eat meals with their families tend to eat healthier, maintain a healthier weight, and do better in school.
  • Limit screen time (TV, computers, video games etc…) to no more than 2 hours a day.
  • Encourage your kids to play actively for at least 1 hour everyday and make it fun.  Some ideas…dancing, riding bike, hula hooping, jump roping. 
  • Check out the website sponsored by the American Dietetic Association for more great information on how to feed kids healthy. 

 Of course, these are only a few ideas for helping you to create a healthier family, but hopefully, they’ll set your kids on the road to lifelong health.   If you have any additional questions about the topic of childhood overweight and obesity, I encourage you to talk with your child’s pediatrician or doctor and a registered dietitian.

-Becky Jermeay, MA, RD
Center for Family Health


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Creating a Bully-Free Preschool

With the ever changing ages, faces, and personalities that walk into a typical child care environment, we at Phoenix Child Care & Academy understand why some people believe that bullying can start surprisingly early, even involving children as young as 3 and 4 years of age!  Recently we experienced a common scenario between a group of young girls that teamed up on another child to cause hurt feelings and tears.  To elaborate, this particular young girl, accidentally woke up a sleeping child at nap time and was made fun of by a group of others to the point where she left the room and wanted to sit alone.  This incident inspired our staff to make efforts towards creating a "Bully-Free" child care center. We knew this effort had to be a combination of not only staff, but children and parents alike.  Our goal was to educate everyone at our center on what actions are considered to be bullying, what a person should do if they feel as if they are being bullied, and how we can prevent acts of bullying in the future.  

To educate staff, parents, and children, we identified specific behaviors that can potentially result in bullying and created a poster illustrating examples.  Our poster included quotes from children (i.e. "you can't play with us", "your hair is messy"), pictures and drawings, magazine cut outs, etc.  We wanted to first make sure that all were aware of what exactly bully is and how it is commonly displayed in a child care setting.

Next, we created and practiced typical bullying scenarios through role plays.  The objective was to teach children how to identify and react when they or someone around them are being bullied.  Some examples of topics we used were name-calling, laughing and sneering at others, and teasing.  It was amazing to see how involved the children became even at their young age!  Not only did they become more knowledgeable on dealing with a bullying situation, they embraced the idea of "looking out for and protecting their peers" from being bullied.  

Finally, to promote prevention, we consistently keep bullying awareness a major topic of discussion in lesson plans and daily operations.  To keep staff and students alike keen to eliminating any actions that may lead to bullying, we implement a variety of related activities.  For example, during free play, staff are admonished to discourage "grouping-up" or  "cliques", and encourage fair play and creating healthy friendships through a number of activities involving team work and positive interdependence.  

Although many more efforts need to be made to better equip our children to identify, deal with, and prevent situations involving bullying, we at Phoenix Child Care & Academy take this matter very seriously and will continue to make every effort towards making sure each and every child at our Center feels safe, secure, and prepared to be productive citizens of society.

Lisa Hunt

I am the owner of Phoenix Child Care & Academy.  My husband, Karl, and I are now in our 3rd year of operations focused on providing opportunities for successful early childhood education and development  I am a proud mother of 4 and a Spanish teacher of 10 years.  Along with my passion for children, experiences within my career shed light on the need for a positive beginning for all children.   My hope and dream is that through our daily efforts our child care facility will offer a foundation for all children to build a Great Start on life leading well into their futures!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Quietly and without much fanfare, Gov. Rick Snyder signed an executive order recently creating an Office of Great Start within the Michigan Department of Education.
This new office will work with Michigan’s Early Childhood Investment Corporation, which operates the Great Start system, to ensure that more children are “school ready” when they arrive in kindergarten.
This is very good news for Michigan. Early childhood development is fundamental to creating great kids, and great kids are fundamental to creating a new version of the Michigan we all know and remember – a Michigan that is economically vibrant and a place where businesses and families move to rather than away from.
Economist James Heckman, the Nobel Laureate from the University of Chicago, offers a formula for understanding why things like prenatal care, preschool, quality child care and more are economically important.
The “Heckman Equation,” as he calls it, says that if we invest in educational and developmental resources for disadvantaged families that develop cognitive skills, social skills, and physical well-being in children early - from birth to age five, when it matters most – and sustain that early leg-up with effective education through adulthood, we gain more capable, productive and valuable citizens who pay dividends to America for generations to come.
Gov. Snyder is a pragmatic, results-driven person. His vision of a cradle to adulthood education system isn’t based on flight or fancy. It’s based on data.
As Professor Heckman said in a letter to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Reform, “Data from economists, social scientists and medical experts conclusively shows that the answer is to invest in comprehensive early childhood development—from birth to age five—particularly in disadvantaged children and their families.”
Michigan’s Office of Great Start is certainly a step in the right direction. The office will combine and coordinate early childhood programs and resources that currently are scattered across multiple state departments.
The office will also work closely with the Early Childhood Investment Corporation to create, as the governor said earlier this year, “a dynamic partnership aimed at maximizing public and private investment in the service of Michigan’s children.”
A major part of that partnership will continue to be Michigan’s Great Start Collaboratives, which operate in every county and are making tremendous strides toward building local early childhood systems starting with a painstakingly built assessment of community needs and assets.
What’s exciting about the Office of Great Start is that in time – and with continued legislative support - we just might be able to see state resources go to communities to make those plans real.
If so, we’ll move from making incremental progress on school readiness in Michigan to leaps.
That will be wonderful news for Michigan and its future.
Visit to learn how you can be involved in the work of your local Great Start Collaborative or contact Sheri Butters at