protect + prevent

Health News

By Emily Elveru

Above Image | Lise Gagne/Getty

How Can I Get My Toddler to Eat Meat?

Protein comes in many forms, and toddlers can get the 13 grams they need each day from beans (1/4 cup chickpeas=3 grams), eggs (1 hard-boiled egg=7 grams) and dairy (1 cup milk=8 grams). But if you want to make meat more appealing to your child, try one of these tricks from Natalia Stasenko, R.D., who specializes in family nutrition.

  • Lightly bread it. Think mini schnitzels, says Stasenko. “Use a meat mallet to make small pieces of chicken or pork very thin and easy to chew, then let the crunch of wholewheat breadcrumbs work its magic.”
  • Tackle the texture. When making homemade burgers or meatballs, first blitz ground beef, turkey, or chicken in a food processor with a little water or milk. “The result will be a much smoother, more tender consistency that kids love,” she says.
  • Just dip it. “Offer some ketchup, mayo, low-sodium soy sauce, ranch dressing, or any other dip your child likes,” she says. It will help him learn to tolerate challenging foods.

Story for the Sniffles

Little Louie is sick. His nose is stuffed up, his voice sounds strange, and when he yells “Mom!” his slobbery dog Bob thinks he’s calling for him instead. Your kid will have fun shouting out the words to Audrey Vernick and Liz Garton Scanlon’s book Bob, Not Bob!: to be read as though you have the worst cold ever. It’ll also show her that catching a bug isn’t that bad when she gets to snuggle in bed and read with you. 3 to 5 years, $18


Give your kids probiotics if they have to take antibiotics.

Update on Kids and Antidepressants

Only one antidepressant, Prozac, is effective enough to justify being prescribed to children and adolescents, concludes a review of 34 randomized trials published in The Lancet. The meta-analysis included 14 different antidepressants and more than 5,200 kids and teens with major depression. Even so, don’t let this news make you panic. “If your child is already on an antidepressant other than Prozac and is doing well, there is no reason to change prescriptions based on this study alone,” says Ajit Jetmalani, M.D., director of the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, in Portland. But if your doctor is considering an antidepressant for your child, the research is worth bringing up.

A Boredom-Proof Museum About the Body

Imagine a place where kids can slide down the shinbone of a giant skeleton or see how wrinkly their skin will get if they skip sunscreen or they smoke. These exhibits at the recently opened HealthWorks! Kids’ Museum, in St. Louis, are the latest examples of a new trend: teaching about science and health through interactive experiences. “I’ve heard so many kids walk away from our age-progression exhibit saying, ‘I’m never going to touch a cigarette,’” says HealthWorks! president and CEO Shannon Woodcock. A few other memorable museums where kids can learn about their body through fun, hands-on adventures:

  • The Health Museum in Houston
  • Kidzeum of Health and Science in Springfield, Illinois
  • The Bodyology exhibit at the Children’s Museum Tucson

Try This New Eczema Soother

Made from natural ingredients including shea butter, coconut oil, and colloidal oatmeal, Skinfix Kids Eczema Balm is a safe alternative to steroid cream, so you can slather away worry-free. Dermatologists recommend it, and so does Parents senior health editor Julia Edelstein, who tested it on her toddler’s stubborn eczema. After just five days of nightly post-bath use, the rash on his legs cleared up and has yet to return. $19; CVS & Target

Hazards of Raising Chickens

Backyard chicken coops are earth-friendly, fun, and...full of bird poop. Now that they’re trendy, they’re also making more families sick. There were over 600 cases of Salmonella poisoning linked to backyard poultry in 2016 (more than twice as many as in 2015). Worse: About a third of those affected were under age 5. If you’re considering a coop, have your family follow these rules.

Don’t kiss or nuzzle baby chicks. Salmonella live in the chicken’s intestines and easily spread through their droppings to their feathers and feet, explains Megin Nichols, D.V.M., a veterinary epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Never wash a fresh egg. Many people don’t realize that eggs have a natural protective coating, and washing it off may actually increase the risk of contamination because the germy water can be absorbed into the egg through the shell’s pores, says Dr. Nichols. But always wash your hands after handling eggs or feeding the birds.

Chickens should be off-limits for kids under 5. Children—along with seniors and those with a suppressed immune system—are more likely to have severe (even potentially fatal) illnesses from Salmonella, which is why the CDC recommends that families with little kids keep poultry out of their backyard.

Humidifier Help

Plenty of parents rely on a humidifier to ease their kid’s congestion during cold and flu season, but using it the wrong way could do more harm than good, especially if a child has allergies, says pediatrician Dennis Cooley, M.D. Stick to these important guidelines.

  • Choose wisely. “Evaporative” cool-mist humidifiers don’t pump as much bacteria and extra moisture into the air as “impeller” types. Never use a hot-water vaporizer in a kid’s room; a spill can cause serious scalds or burns. Note that saline spray is another good way to loosen mucus and soothe a sore nose, adds Dr. Cooley.
  • Use distilled water. Crusty mineral buildup from tap water can breed bacteria. You may also be bothered by white dust that can appear on surfaces when the humidifier is on.
  • Clean it regularly. Every humidifier comes with its own set of instructions. If you don’t follow them, bacteria and mold can build up and spread around the room, says Dr. Cooley. Antimicrobial products like the Vicks’ Protec Humidifier Cleaning Fish (pictured below) offer extra protection against odorcausing bacteria, mold, and algae growth in between cleanings.cleanings. $9;


of 6- to 11-year old girls get the recommended 60 minutes or more a day of exercise, according to the American Heart Association. Half of boys that age do.