Category

Safety

Head lice horrors

By | children's health, Education, Head lice, Health, Safety
by Eileen Hutchinson
Owner of NitNOT Head lice clinic
and the developer of NitNOT head lice serum

It’s a proud moment enjoyed by all the family, the home snapped photos of your child standing with new bag in hand, crisp uniform and shiny shoes, prepared for their first year at school. That initial school experience can be scary but also an exciting milestone. We are reminded to prepare for this change as parents, to create good bedtime routines, read to them, and equip them with the necessary skills to help with the transition. What they don’t prepare you for, however, is that the start of the school term is also peak season for blood-sucking parasites, namely head lice!

Head lice are the unspoken misery of our schools, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Across Europe, head lice are seen as a normal part of growing up, just as usual as catching a cold. In the UK head lice, infestations are stigmatised, but in reality, head lice don’t discriminate. Children are the main spreaders of head lice due to them spending lots of time in close contact with one another. Research by the Institute of mums revealed two-thirds of children can expect to catch head lice at least once during childhood, with an average of 2.2 infestations per child. I can assure you as someone who is totally focused on eliminating these critters that they don’t care about whether your hair is clean, dirty, curly or straight, or even sprayed with repellent.

A female louse is programmed to lean out of the host’s hair with back claws clasping a hair follicle, and front claws stretched out to grab any passing new hosts hair. When a new hair passes by, they cling on, and it’s as simple as that.

How to prevent head lice is a question often asked, with regular mentions of tea tree oil, however, there is not enough evidence to prove its efficacy, and it’s important to realise natural treatments can cause severe allergic reactions. I recommend that you stick to using a CE certified brand of head lice serum, meaning you can be sure it has been rigorously tested for safety and effectiveness. The following simple steps can help your family avoid an infestation:

1 Check for lice and nits before the start of the school term, conducting weekly head checks throughout the year. The best way to check is to use a nit comb on your child’s wet hair, wiping on a tissue after each stroke to check for eggs, nits and lice.

2 Reduce risk by putting longer hair in braids, buns or ponytails. The longer the hair, the higher the risk of contracting lice.

3 Use a separate brush for every member of the family. Head lice won’t fall out onto hats, jackets, or furniture, but a louse that gets stuck in the bristles of your brush can stay alive for up to three days.

4 Make sure to do a thorough check before a trip to the hairdressers, if lice are found mid cut most hairdressers will stop. As you can imagine, this can lead to tears and trauma.

Lastly, it’s crucial to think about how we come across to our children when discussing lice. Be conscious, remain calm, and treat others with kindness. I’ve had many discussions with distraught parents, and also teens who feel too embarrassed to tell anyone. Many subsequently seek to treat themselves without informing their parents. If we work to make this less of a taboo subject, we can work towards fostering honest and open relationships with others.

For more information go to www.nitnot.com

Looking after your child’s eyes

By | children's health, Education, Health, Safety, Vision

 

Francesca Andersson is an Optometrist at Barnard Optometrists in Hove. She has a two year old son and is passionate about children’s eye health and sharing information about good eye care. Currently one in five school age children have undiagnosed vision problems which could be interfering with their learning. Francesca would like to make sure parents have the correct information to protect their children’s eyes.

When should I take my child to the opticians?
The Association of Optometrists (AOP) recommend that all children should have a sight test around the age of three, but I recommend that children should have their first sight test at six months of age, or even as a newborn and especially if there are any concerns or family history of any eye conditions. This would enable us to pick up any eye conditions which can be treated earlier, particularly before they start school.

What happens during a sight test?
A sight test should be a good experience for a child; during the test we establish how well your child can see, if their two eyes co-ordinate well together and that there are no concerns with the health of their eyes.

Does my child need to know their letters?
No, we have a range of vision tests we can use depending on the age of the child and how confident they are during the test. Some vision tests do not even require the child to talk at all, we just look at eye movements to determine whether or not they have seen the picture.

How much is a sight test?
Sight tests are free for children under 16 years of age and for anyone in full-time education under the age of 19.

How would I know if my child has a vision problem?
You may not! Sometimes there may not be any signs or symptoms that your child may be struggling with their vision as they themselves may not know that what they are experiencing isn’t normal. This is one of the major reasons that it is so important for them to have a sight test regularly. Some children will show signs of a problem.
For example:
• An eye turning in or out.
• Difficulty concentrating.
• Headaches.
• Sitting too close to the television.
• Frequent eye rubbing.

Why is it important for eye conditions to be picked up early?
Children’s vision continues to develop until they are around eight years old. This means we have until this age to correct their sight and any muscle weakness to allow the vision to develop normally. If left untreated it can lead to them having a lazy eye.

What should I look for when buying my child’s glasses?
• A frame they like and are happy wearing.
• A good fitting frame that allows for growth.
• Soft plastic frames are advised for young children.
• A strap can be useful for active toddlers.

What can I do to protect my child’s eyes?
• Attend regular sight tests.
• Provide a healthy diet and plenty of water.
• Protect their eyes from the sun with a hat, suntan lotion on eyelids, good-quality sunglasses with UV protection and stop them looking in to the sun.
• Spend plenty of time outdoors – research shows playing outside for two hours is ideal for healthy eyes.

Can digital screens harm my child’s eyes?
Research shows that prolonged screen time can increase the progression of myopia (short-sightedness) so screen time must be balanced with time outdoors. There is no scientific evidence to show that blue light from screens can damage eyes but it can lead to poorer sleep if used before bed. Make sure digital devices are turned off at least an hour before bed.

If you have any concerns or questions please contact us and we will be pleased to advise you.

 

Barnard Associates is an established independent, Optometric practice providing clinical eye care, contact lenses and spectacle dispensing
for over 30 years.
Our Optometrists specialise in paediatric eye care and have additional qualifications to provide visual assessments associated with dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and learning difficulties – we welcome any questions you may have regarding your eye health.
Phone: 01273 772 318
Email: reception@barnardassociates.co.uk

 

Sun creams – the confusion

By | Education, environment, Health, Safety, Summer, sun safety
by Green People, ethical organic skin care and beauty product experts

We all know the importance of using sun protection, but a recent survey by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society shows that there is huge confusion around labelling on sun creams, with a significant percentage of the public unaware how much protection their sun creams offer.

The survey of 2,000 UK adults found that one in five was unaware that the SPF rating of a sun cream does not offer protection against all sun damage.

Only 8% of people surveyed knew that the SPF rating of a sun cream only refers to the protection from UVB radiation (the rays that burn), meaning that 92% of people had no idea that SPF ratings offer no indication of UVA protection.

What are UVA rays?
UVA rays cause long-term cell damage in the deeper layers of the skin and are the main cause of premature skin ageing and wrinkles.

UVA rays can still cause damage even if your skin hasn’t gone red and burned; this means that whilst you may believe you are getting good protection from your sun cream, your skin may still be experiencing damage.

To maintain high protection from both UVA and UVB rays it is more important to apply regularly and liberally than to choose a very high SPF sun cream.

Cancer Research recommends that two tablespoons of sun cream is applied every 2 hours; it is also advised that people avoid direct sun exposure between the hours of 11:00 and 15:00 when the sun’s harmful rays are strongest.

Recent media coverage about UVA protection advised the public to check the ‘star’ rating of their sun cream, however the star system is not the only way to tell if a product offers protection against UVA rays.

The European Cosmetics Association COLIPA has designed a symbol to indicate whether products offer UVA protection in line with the recommendations of the European Commission. This symbol, which consists of the letters UVA inside a circle, is used to confirm that products offer UVA protection in line with these recommendations.

How high is high enough?
There can be a tendency for people who use very high factor sun creams of SPF50 and above to reapply less frequently and stay in the sun longer than when they use lower factor sun lotions. This can dramatically increase your risk of sun damage because in order to get good UVA defence, you must regularly top up your protection no matter what the SPF factor.

All Green People sun lotions offer broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection and are suitable for sensitive skin and those prone to prickly heat.

Swimming on prescription?

By | children's health, fun for children, Safety, swimming

Swim England tell us why it should be and Vicki Bates from the little swim school thinks she agrees!

Ahead of this year’s World Health Day on April 7th, Swim England launched their #LoveSwimming Campaign to ask doctors to prescribe swimming more often to help long-term medical conditions, backing up their campaign with real life examples of people whose lives have been transformed by being prescribed swimming!

Wanda says she was feeling like an old lady before she was forty with asthma, arthritis and back pain. She described her life as planning around her medical conditions until her physiotherapist suggested swimming. In the short Swim England film Wanda says “It’s been absolutely life changing for me and my whole life is easier than it used to be – I totally feel that I have claimed my life back”.

Steve’s physical health was appalling – he was massively overweight and had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but still did nothing about it. He then had a stroke and that, he says, changed his life. He started swimming and realised his fears about people looking and pointing at him weren’t necessary as they weren’t looking or pointing! Steve said “The benefits of swimming – physically, mentally and socially are massive – the exercise I’ve found that works for me is swimming.”

Paul suffered from constant back pain as a result of working long hours, sitting in a chair – often for 12 hours at a time. He managed his pain with painkillers but then looked for an alternative and saw a physiotherapist who recommended swimming. He literally built up from one length to 40 and says “The further I go, the better I feel afterwards – I feel as if I’ve had some type of internal massage – for hours I feel as if I had no pain at all – for whole days – I love swimming!”

These inspirational stories show what an amazing tool swimming can be in recovery from serious illness and aches and pains, as well as for the many other health benefits it delivers; fitness levels, weight loss, feelings of wellbeing and mental health benefits, to name but a few.

Swim England go on to say that the current Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has called for a ‘culture shift’ and for medical professionals to act on the evidence that activity, such as swimming, can cut the risk of illness and boost survival from major disease.

Elaine McNish, Head of Health and Wellbeing at Swim England said: “Swimming is an ideal activity which can help people manage a range of medical conditions and we are calling on the medical profession to consider recommending swimming to people who would benefit from improved physical health.”

I’m not sure if it’s me getting older but I think over the past few years, as a nation, we are waking up to the realisation that if we want to live long healthy lives, we need to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally. Some of the medical profession also appear to be moving towards the more progressive idea of prevention rather than cure and alternative therapies rather than the constant prescription of drugs that just relieve the symptoms, but don’t help the actual condition. I have a bad lower back and after years of taking care and being over-careful, I have started to build up the muscles around my back – swimming along with weight training have helped me to feel better now than I have felt in a long time. I’m lucky, running a swim school means I know the many benefits of swimming but I really agree with Swim England that if doctors prescribed swimming for relevant conditions – physical and mental, we would definitely be a healthier nation.

I have mentioned many times the multiple benefits of swimming and this just adds another reason as to why, as a parent, you should encourage your little one to love the water and take them swimming or to lessons that teach them water confidence, water safety and swimming skills. It has been shown in many studies that if children are physically active with sports like swimming when they are younger, they are more likely to be fit and healthy as adults. Even if your little one doesn’t continue swimming as an adult, they will have the skills to fall back on if they ever need them in later life. I say teach your little one to swim – for now and the future – for safety and long-term health – it’s all pros and no cons!

If you want more information on preschool swimming, do visit www.thelittleswimschool.co.uk call us on 01273 207992 or email info@thelittleswimschool.co.uk

Make time for teeth

By | baby health, beauty, children's health, Education, family, Health, Safety, Uncategorized
by Lisa Costigan, Rottingdean Dental Care

Lisa Costigan from Rottingdean Dental Care has practiced locally for 27 years. During this time she has dealt with many dental injuries and is very keen that all parents should know what to do if their child damages a tooth.

What should I do if my child damages a primary (baby) tooth?
You don’t have to do anything yourself to the tooth. However it is important that you visit your dentist as soon as possible. NEVER put back a knocked out primary (baby) tooth as you could damage the permanent tooth below.

Why is important that I visit the dentist straight away?
Your dentist will want to assess the injury and monitor the tooth. If it has become very loose they may want to remove it as there could be an airway risk. If it has been mildly displaced from the socket they may be able to reposition it. Sometimes if the movement is very slight the tooth will reposition spontaneously.

How can I care for the injured tooth at home?
Avoid giving hard food for two to four weeks and if possible avoid use of a pacifier or nursing bottle. Remember to keep brushing the tooth as it is important to keep it clean. Look out for any changes around the injured tooth. Colour change is a common sign of primary (baby) tooth trauma and may range from yellow to grey to black. Always return to your dentist with any concerns.

Can an injury to a primary (baby) tooth damage the unerupted permanent tooth?
During the first years of life the primary (baby) teeth are very closely related to the permanent teeth which are forming inside the bone. When injury occurs in the primary teeth in this period it can affect the appearance of the permanent teeth, which could erupt with white or brown marks or a deformation in the crown. It may also disturb the eruption time of the permanent tooth.

What should I do if a permanent tooth is broken or knocked out?
• Find the tooth. Hold the
tooth by the crown (the white part), not by the root (the yellow part).
• Re-implant immediately if possible.
• If contaminated rinse briefly with cold tap water (do not scrub) and put the tooth back in place. This can be done by the child or an adult.
• Hold the tooth in place. Bite on a handkerchief to hold it in position and go to the dentist immediately.
• If you cannot put the tooth back in, place in a cup of milk or saline. When milk or saline or not available, place the tooth in the child’s mouth (between the cheeks and gums).
• Seek immediate dental treatment as your dentist will need to take an x-ray and place a splint on the adjacent teeth. Follow up treatment will depend on the stage of root development of the tooth.

Lisa advises that due to the frequency of the tooth injuries all parents should download the Dental Trauma First Aid App which is endorsed by IAPT (International Association of Dental Traumatology).

Rottingdean Dental Care was opened in 1982. It became the first practice in Sussex to hold both national quality standards BDA Good Practice and Investors in People.
Email: info@rottingdeandental.co.uk

Preparing your child for school

By | Education, fun for children, Safety

Starting school marks a major milestone in a child’s development and it can also represent a time of mixed emotion – and we are not just talking about the child here! We asked Sally Livingston, Reception class teacher at Barrow Hills School on top tips for parents to help prepare their child for this momentous step in their learning journey.

• If your child hasn’t attended nursery or kindergarten, it is a good idea to get them used to being in a social setting outside of the family home. Young children need to learn how to interact with their peers and in particular, they need to get to grips with the concept of playing together harmoniously – and that all-important life lesson, learning to share!

• Schedule your child time to play independently so that they begin to appreciate that they don’t always need to be entertained but rather can be occupied by becoming fully engrossed in an activity, for example, building a model from building blocks.

• Build a good rapport with the Reception staff. If your child shows any signs of becoming distressed at the time of drop off, you need to be secure in the knowledge that the staff are going to step in to comfort your child. Don’t be tempted to loiter, this will make it more difficult for your little one, be upbeat and reassuring and leave. Chances are they will settle within minutes of you leaving and will be easily distracted by all the new toys and friends that await them! Equally, if all is going well at school but you are experiencing some shifts in behaviour at home, always talk to the teacher so that you can work together to demonstrate a consistent approach in encouraging the child to respect any clear boundaries that have been set. We are here to work alongside parents, to help children develop in a safe, protected and most importantly happy setting and no problem is too small to discuss.

• Help your child with their learning by putting into practice outside of the classroom some of the lessons that they are being taught – and make it fun! For example, when you are in the supermarket, get your child to help out by using their numbers and colours to select items; encourage them to identify shapes in their home/outdoor environment; ask them to help look out for letters on road signs.

• Being at school is incredibly tiring for a young child and represents a major transition even if they attended nursery, so make a point of getting into a good bedtime routine and ensuring that your little one gets their required quota of sleep. We all know the negative effects of a lack of sleep on us as adults, so for children who are expending so much energy on simply growing and running around, it is even more important. A common error that parents make is to stop the traditional bedtime reading routine, replacing this instead with ‘school related’ reading which may have been set as homework. Remember, now more than ever your child
needs to go to sleep settled and secure, so the familiar and comforting bedtime read should not be dropped!

• By Reception most children have mastered toilet training but don’t be surprised when accidents happen. Instead advise them to always ask the teacher if they feel the need to use the bathroom and if they do get caught short, to tell an adult rather than be left in discomfort. Make a point of speaking to the teacher if you know that this can be a bit of a problem so that your child is actively encouraged to use the toilet and feels supported.

• Encourage your child to be independent: learning to put on their coat unaided, having a go at doing up buttons and zips, putting on their shoes – all of these small changes will help them cope in the reception environment although, of course, there is always plenty of reassurance and help at hand!

• Begin laying the foundations for good manners whilst eating away from home. Try and make time to eat together as a family and actively support your child so that they learn how to use tricky knives and forks, rather than rely solely on their hands! Persuade them to try and use the knife to cut food rather than simply waiting for help to arrive!

• Start early with helping your child to adopt healthy eating habits, steering them towards the right food options – but of course still allowing the appropriate treats. Try to explain the importance of eating healthier food and how it will help them in the future, using words that your child is able to understand, rather than simply laying down the law!

www.barrowhills.org
Next open mornings 26 and 29 April

Hacks parents shouldn’t live without

By | Education, Safety

Parenthood can be one of life’s biggest expenses so it’s good to know a few hacks to make the time a little easier and cheaper. Here are some tips to make parenthood cheaper and a lot more fun.

Always carry eco-friendly wet wipes
It’s always handy to have a pack of eco-friendly wet wipes on you for wiping messy faces and hands or cooling overheated children down.

Freeze yoghurts and soft pouch drinks
Freeze squeezy yoghurts and soft pouch drinks and use them as ice blocks. They’re perfect for keeping food cool to take on a picnic and by the time you eat them they should be defrosted enough to enjoy. They’re also ideal for using in school pack lunches during the summer.

Use a dish drainer to store notebooks and colouring books
Ever wondered what to use that redundant dish drainer for? The plate section will keep colouring and note books in perfect order and the cutlery holder is ideal for felt tips, pens and pencils.

Microwave two bowls at a time
If you need to microwave two bowls at a time, put one on a glass jar or mug. That means you have one low and one high and two bowls of food ready at the same time.

Cover plug sockets with plasters
If you need to childproof your sockets, try putting a plaster over the pin holes; this will stop little fingers getting in.

Use an outdoor paddling pool as an indoor ball pit
Make use of your paddling pool all year round and bring it indoors over the winter. You can use it as a fun ball pit, or a playpen filled with toys.

Add a sticky hook to the back of your high chair to store bibs
If you can never find a bib when you need one, attach a sticky hook to the back of your high chair and hang them on there.

Use cookies cutters as door lockers
If you’re fed up of having your cupboards emptied by your children, put cookie cutters over the handles to stop them getting in.

Use an over the door shoe holder to store baby must haves
If you have stacks of stuff in your nursery and not enough room to store it, try using an over the door shoe holder. You can pop in nappies, wipes, nappy sacks and ointments – in fact, anything you use frequently and need close to hand.

Make slippers slip proof
If your tot slips over every time they put their slippers on, try putting glue on the bottom. Let it dry first and then let your little one have a wander. The bumpy glue makes them non-slip.

Recycle cots into a kiddie sized table
When your children have outgrown their cot, turn it into a kiddie sized table. Remove
the moveable side, take out
the mattress, add a couple of chairs and you have a table for tea parties.

Turn a DVD case into a pencil case
An empty DVD case is great for storing pencils and crayons – you may even be able to get in a notebook too. Perfect for long car journeys.

Cut up food with a pizza cutter
If you need to cut food up into bite sized pieces, use a pizza cutter rather than a knife.

Use a swimming noodle to stop your little one rolling out of bed
Try putting a noodle under a fitted sheet – it acts as a barrier to stop your little one rolling out of bed.

Make up wipes will clean anything
Toothpaste stains, grass stains, face paint will all come clean courtesy of a make-up wipe, they’re also great for polishing your shoes.

Information supplied by
www.promotionalcodes.org.uk

Swimming with babies

By | Education, Safety, Sport, swimming, Uncategorized
by Fiona Edwards
Little Dippers

Baby swimming has become increasingly popular over the last 10 years and with good reason. As one of the first activities you can do with your new baby it not only gives you special one on one time with your baby, but also imparts your baby with a skill for life.

But taking that first step into the pool with your baby definitely comes with its fair share of questions and nerves. What if they get cold? What if they cry? What about their ears? Rest assured your babies are so much more adaptable than you realise and swimming is a completely natural progression for them having spent nine months in the fluid environment of the womb.
What’s more, babies are born with a natural dive reflex action which means they are already fully equipped to go underwater. It is truly amazing to see your baby dive underwater for the first time and come up again completely unfazed!

Safety
One of the first considerations for going baby swimming must be safety. With drowning still the third most common cause of accidental death in children, learning to swim must surely be a priority for all parents. Teaching your baby key water safety techniques and confidence in the water will give them skills that, if they should ever fall into a pool, lake, pond or even the bath, will mean that they won’t panic and can utilise the skills that they have learnt – which could potentially save their life.

Bonding
Baby swimming is a great way to spend special one on one time with your little one away from the intrusions of everyday life. This is a time when you can truly focus on just you and your baby. Plus the added benefits of skin on skin contact can help to regulate baby’s heart rate and breathing as well as making them feel secure. For mums, it can release hormones to help with breastfeeding and build the nurturing instincts. It’s also a great way for dads to get involved and enjoy special bonding time.

Physical and physiological benefits
The buoyancy of the water enables babies to use muscles they could never use on land and they love the sense of freedom to kick freely. Despite looking gentle, swimming is great exercise for your baby, helping to strengthen their heart, lungs and respiratory capacity which in turn aids the development of the brain.

In fact, the exercises taught in baby swim classes, kicking, reaching, learning and responding to commands, provide the perfect stimulation for your baby’s brain and helps to develop their cognitive skills and hand/eye co-ordination. It has also been proven that the combination of activities in the pool strengthens nerve pathways between the two sides of the brain, helping to store and retrieve information more effectively. All good for future learning!

What’s more, regular swimming can improve your child’s eating and sleeping patterns – surely a bonus for everyone!

Fun for all the family Swimming is great exercise for all the family and is something you can enjoy together even when babies are very little.

Parents’ confidence
Don’t worry if you are not confident in the water yourself, most baby swim classes take place in shallow pools and don’t require you to do much more than hold your baby. However nervous you may be feeling make sure you try to remain calm and keep a big smile on your face as your baby will pick up any apprehension that you may feel. It’s amazing watching parents’ confidence grow as they watch their babies thrive in the water.

Meet new friends
Besides learning key survival skills swimming is fun! Singing songs, splashing around, blowing bubbles and playing games, it’s an easy way for parents to get involved and meet new friends along the way. It’s best to go somewhere with small groups so that everyone can get to know each other and your baby will respond to other babies in the group and enjoy the clapping and splashing.

A few things to think about before you go swimming
You can start swimming with your baby from birth although most parents tend to wait until their baby is around six to eight weeks. Contrary to popular belief, babies do not need to have had their immunisations before coming to a pool.

It is best to book a course of baby swimming classes before you take your baby to the pool on your own, so that you can learn how to hold your baby
and exercises that you can practise with them. Smaller classes with groups of around six or seven in private pools provide a calmer quieter environment for you and your baby. Try to find warm water pools; babies can’t regulate their temperature so look for classes that take place in pools ideally heated to around 32 -34O C.

Before choosing a class think about your baby’s feed and nap times. A tired or hungry baby won’t enjoy their class and give yourself plenty of time to get to your class and get changed. It’s amazing how much longer everything takes with a baby in tow and you don’t want to start your class flustered and stressed.
You can help prepare your baby for lessons by having fun in the bath splashing, grasping toys and singing songs.

With all these benefits surely it’s worth taking the plunge!

Little Dippers have been teaching babies to love the water for 25 years.
Classes in lovely warm water pools in the North Laine and Patcham in Brighton with free drop in sessions.
Free trial available to book.
For more details check our website www.littledippers.co.uk or call 01273 229 390

The sun has got his hat on – and so should your child

By | baby health, children's health, Education, family, Health, Safety, Summer, swimming

When protecting children from harmful rays, clothing is just as important as sunscreen, say dermatologists at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital in Horley.

Putting sunscreen on children is one of those chores that can bring a cloud to an otherwise sunny day. A familiar sight on a beach is a parent restraining a child with one hand and quickly rubbing cream in before their ‘little prisoner’ breaks free to head once more into the water.

They won’t thank you now but protecting your child from the sun’s harmful rays could prevent them from having skin cancer when they are in their 30s – and struggling to apply sun cream to their own children.

But parents forget how vital clothing can be. Long sleeved tops, wide brimmed hats and special UV protective swim
wear are easy to put on as part of getting dressed to go out for the day, and often tick a box with the fashion-conscious child. Synthetic fabrics are better than cotton as the weave is not as loose. Hold the material up to the light to see how much filters through and choose clothing with a tight weave. Dark colours such as reds, blues or greens are more effective at blocking sun rays than white, light or pastels – and have the added bonus of making it easier to spot your child on a crowded beach or park.

Even on warm but overcast days, the UV rays can still penetrate through clouds, so continue to protect your child with clothing and sunscreen. And encourage them to cover up or play in the shade during the peak times between midday and 3pm when the sun is at its most harmful.

Children naturally have more exposure to sun as they are more likely to be running around outdoors partially clothed and in and out of water. Trying to re-apply sunscreen every two hours may not always be practical, so clothing can be a parent’s biggest ally. Add a good sunblock and shade, and you will be giving your child a very precious gift that will last a lifetime – that of reducing their risk of skin cancer in later life.

Children can be ‘slippery fish’ when it comes to applying sunscreen. Reduce the stress for you and them by trying these top tips:
• Make putting on sunscreen a natural part of the preparations for going to the park or the beach. If it becomes a ritual, like brushing teeth, children will be more accepting.
• Make it family fun – help each other to apply sunscreen in front of a mirror so you can see which bits you’ve missed.
• Don’t leave it to the last minute to apply sunscreen – as soon as they see the water or playground you will have a battle on your hands. Instead, apply sunscreen before you leave the house. Sunscreen works best after half an hour anyway.
• Time reapplications with a snack or treat for distraction.
• A squirming toddler? Then apply as much as you can while the child is strapped in their buggy or car seat.
• For quick reapplications, use a spray, but avoid eyes and mouths and encourage your child to hold their breath while you apply it. Or invest in a roll-on sunscreen so children can do it themselves.

Did you know?
UV light can penetrate car windows so invest in a stick-on UV protection screen. And certain medication, such as antibiotics or malaria tablets, may make your child’s skin more susceptible to the sun’s rays.

What sunscreen to choose:
Look for a sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection. An SPF of 30 or more with a UVA rating of 4 or 5 stars is a good standard of sun protection for children. Opt for water-resistant creams if your child is
a water baby.

Babies and sun:
Babies under six months old shouldn’t be exposed to sun
at all at this age as their skin burns more easily. When outdoors, always put a baby in the shade with a parasol and fully covered in clothes, with
a wide brimmed hat.

Banishing the misery of prickly heat:
Prickly heat usually appears as tiny bumps on the neck, chest, shoulders and back and is caused when sweat gets trapped under the skin blocking pores or sweat ducts. Babies and small children are prone to prickly heat. The rash usually disappears after a few days but ease symptoms by giving your child a cooling bath and keep away from the sun. Dress them in loose cotton clothing and encourage them to drink plenty of water. If your child is prone to prickly heat, give them an antihistamine half hour before you head outdoors.

Eczema and sunscreen:
Finding an SPF sunscreen for eczema prone skin can be a challenge. There are plenty of ultra-sensitive sunscreens on the market, which are free from perfume and parabens – preservatives used to stop sun cream going mouldy which can aggravate eczema.

If you are using a product for the first time, test it first by putting a small amount to the pulse of your child’s wrist or the crook of their elbow. Don’t wash that area for 24 – 48 hours and watch for any allergic reaction such as redness or a rash.

Advice from Dr Sandeep Cliff and Dr Noreen Cowley, consultant dermatologists at the Spire Gatwick Park Hospital.
Call 01293 778 906 or visit www.spiregatwick.com

Cycling on the road with children

By | Education, family, Safety, Sport

How can you prepare a child for the demands of cycling on a road? Some parents will balk at letting their children near roads with traffic, let alone on them. It would be foolish to pretend there are no risks involved. However, at some point your child will use roads alone – if not on a bike, then as a pedestrian or behind the wheel of a car as a young adult. Those who are used to independence and who can make risk assessments will be safer, better road users than those who have been isolated from the outside world. It doesn’t require leaping in at the deep end. Exposure to traffic is something best done by degrees.

Co-riders and passengers
To begin with your child will travel on the road under your direct control, either as a passenger in a seat or trailer or as a co-rider on a tandem or trailer-cycle. As steering and braking are under your sole control, the only impact will be on how you cycle.

You will inevitably ride in a less swashbuckling style. Mostly it’s because you are always more careful when kids are around; it’s human nature. Partly it’s because a heavier bicycle takes longer to get up to speed and to slow down, so your riding benefits from being smoother and less stop-start. Try to anticipate junctions by arriving slowly and in the right gear for setting off. Allow the extra second or two you’ll need to pull away when judging gaps in traffic.

A child on a tandem or trailer-cycle or in a cargo bike may pick up some traffic skills from you whilst you are riding. You can reinforce this by asking an older child to see if there’s anything behind and to signal left or right when needed. (You will still have to do both these things yourself if it is safe enough.)

Tandems remain useful up to the age of 11 and possibly beyond. By that age, though, most children will want to ride solo. One reason is image. The desire to conform becomes very strong and children don’t want to be seen as ‘different’ by their friends. The tandem that was once so popular may now be seen as geeky.

Chaperoned cycling
Traffic awareness develops around the age of eight to 10 years old, which is usually when school-based cycle training tends to start. Up until that time, at least, you will need to supervise your child on roads. He or she might be a proficient cyclist and yet make misjudgements about traffic.

Before you set off
Before setting out together there are some things you need to be sure of. One is that your child can stop, start, steer and otherwise be competent at cycling – on a bike that’s roadworthy. Another is that your child will respond to your instructions, doing what you say, when you say it. Do explain the reasons for this in advance: that you’re not being bossy or cross, just careful. The final requirement is that your child knows the difference between left and right. When you say ‘go left’ it’s important your charge doesn’t cycle into the centre of the road instead.

On the road
When you’re riding, it’s best if your child leads and you cycle a bike length or half a bike length behind. That way you can watch your child at all times and call out instructions. Your child should ride towards the left side of the road, but at least 50cm out from gutter, while you ride further out, possibly taking the lane. This means traffic has to come around you and can’t cut in too close to your child, who might veer or wobble or simply be freaked out by cars passing too close.

If you need to do so, it is perfectly legal to cycle side-by-side with your child. (Many drivers are unaware that cyclists can ride two abreast, so be prepared for the odd pipped horn.) It’s worth moving forward to ride alongside as you come up to a side road. Two cyclists are more visible than one, and with both of you to pass, any side-road driver is less likely to engage in the brinkmanship of edging or accelerating out in front of you.

Give encouragement as you ride along and make your instructions calm and clear.
Information should flow both ways. In particular, your child should be taught to say ‘Stopping!’ rather than halting right in front of you without warning. Ideally, your child should also signal left before pulling in to the side. (No one uses the one-armed up-down flap that signifies slowing down nowadays, and it may only confuse drivers.)

Start on easier, less trafficked roads and work up. There will be situations in which it is easier or necessary to get off the bikes. Perhaps a hill is too steep. Perhaps a junction is too complex. In time your child will be able to ride these. For now, take it one step at a time. And remember: communication, communication, communication.

Independent cycling
Independent cycling means riding on the road. Children cycling on the pavement is illegal, but there is no criminal liability for children under the age of 10, and it is tacitly accepted by everyone that the pavement is where younger children will ride. By the age of 11, however, and perhaps two or three years earlier, (if you feel they are capable of it) most children can learn to ride safely on the road without supervision – not on all roads but certainly on roads that aren’t busy and don’t have complex junctions.

Cycle training has traditionally taken place in the later years of primary school. Not only are children ready for training then, they will soon need it. The average distance from home to secondary school is 3.3 miles in England – too far to walk perhaps, but not difficult by bike. Training has moved on quite a way since the cones-in-the-school-playground days of the Cycling Proficiency Scheme. The National Standard for Cycle Training (called Bikeability) takes place largely on the road in real-world, supervised conditions. And the training itself is no longer administered by schoolteachers but by qualified, accredited cycle instructors.

Local authorities sometimes provide free or subsidised training. Your nearest cycle training provider can fill you
in about charging policy.

Taken from www.cyclinguk.org
To see the full article visit www.cyclinguk.org/article/cycling-guide/cycling-
road-children