Pay your kids to eat their greens? Try these tips instead.

We’ve all been there.  Sat at the table watching junior push two kernels of sweetcorn and one lonely green bean around the plate whilst trying to ignore the sound of retching. Yep, vegetables for kids is one of life’s great challenges.

It’s a constant battle and one that can only be won by persistence and, possibly, bribery.

Caitlin & Ieuan trying out Infruition Water Bottles
The terrible twosome back in 2017

We get to the stage where we will do anything to get the little blighters to ingest something that actually grew and later on I’ll tell you my huge mistake when it came to getting those veggies into my kids.

But should we be bribing them with cash?  This is a suggestion that was made a few years ago by Tam Fry, head spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum and honorary chairman of the Child Growth Foundation.  And it certainly divided opinion at the time.

We know how good vegetables are for us and their importance in maintaining our health and avoiding diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes but this has little meaning for our kids at their age.

Of course, parents can be extremely devious at sneaking in veggies, hiding cauliflower under cheese sauce, for instance, or chopping tiny nuggets of vegetables into soups, quiches and casseroles.

Or you might want to try smoothies. A “milkshake” can hide a multitude of fruit and veg plus, thanks to more sophisticated blenders these days, the fibre, vitamins and minerals remain intact.

To improve the taste, you can add real fruit, natural fruit juice or coconut milk to the blender along with your chopped vegetables.

Vegetables for kids – it’s not completely impossible!

Here are some tips you might want to try:

Superhero veg to the rescue

Give the vegetables superhero names – mad I know but we renamed spinach “carrot guardian” and Ieuan ate it. That might just be my son though.

Hide veg everywhere

Hide veg in as many sauces as you can. The Husband whips up a meatball sauce which contains any leftover veggies he finds in the fridge and the kids haven’t cottoned on to this yet.

Soups and stews are your friends

The kids will eat soup if there’s plenty of warm crusty bread to dip in it.

Don’t fuss

If you create a battle of wills you’ll be sat there a long time.

Model the behaviour you want to see

You can hardly insist your kids eat their veg if you’re a stranger to salad yourself.

Caitlin & Ieuan Hobbis
Well, they seemed to be growing OK…

Get kids to help with the cooking

Teach your kids about the importance of healthy eating by involving them in food preparation.  A home-made pizza is easy to make and can be decorated with veggies such as cherry tomatoes and peppers.

Make food portions manageable

Don’t swamp their plates with huge portions.  It’s easier to get the kids eating veg if you start off with small, manageable portions.  Notice I said ‘easier’

Make food fun

…. although my Potato of Doom was not exactly a crowd-pleaser.

Linda Hobbis' Potato of Doom - A Jacket Potato In The Shape Of A Hedgehog
Look, I tried, OK?

Don’t give up

Continue to serve up veg in the hope that they will eventually try them.

Play the long game

Remember they’ll probably grow up to love veg.  After all, you did, didn’t you?

My biggest mistake?

Not serving them foods with home-made gravies and sauces early enough. It’s too easy to serve up fish fingers, chips and peas with just a dash of tomato sauce, but they get used to ‘dry’ food.

If you can get them used to gravy then you’re just a blender away from supplementing it with veggies.

Ieuan loves his gravy now and I wish I’d got him eating it a long time ago!

If all else fails, there are also numerous ranges of kids’ vitamins you can try, although ideally your kids should be getting their vitamins and minerals from a well-balanced diet.

Caitlin Hobbis eating Shepherd's Pie
Caitlin had no idea how many veggies she was eating

Ultimately, conditioning kids to eat their greens requires a conscious effort – and it’s best to get youngsters into the habit of munching veggies from an early age.

If you don’t, you may well find yourself having to take Mr Fry’s advice and cough up the cash – which in Ieuan’s case would be very, very expensive indeed.

What is Sepsis?

Until the 2016 coverage of the tragic case of little William Mead and the alleged failure of the NHS 111 helpline and other medical agencies to make a correct diagnosis of Sepsis, I was unaware of this potentially deadly disease.

In fact, Sepsis affects 25,000 children each year in the UK – a staggering statistic.

Baby raising hand - what is sepsis? - motherdistracted.co.uk

As parents, we sometimes put our faith in the NHS and other medical agencies to a worrying degree. My own often stated view is that when in doubt, take your child to A&E or push for a second medical opinion.

And educate yourself.  I am not saying put blind faith in Google either but at least arm yourself with some basic knowledge which enables you to ask the right questions.

What is Sepsis?

So what is Sepsis?

Sepsis is a common and potentially life-threatening condition triggered by an infection in any part of the body.  It is a whole-body inflammatory response which results in symptoms such as a fever, raised pulse rate, raised breathing and confusion.

Sometimes, the specific infection and source of sepsis cannot be identified. Because it can begin in different parts of the body, the disease can have many different symptoms.

Sepsis is often referred to as either blood poisoning or septicaemia, although it could be argued that both terms are not entirely accurate. It is not just limited to the blood and can affect the whole body, including the organs.

It can also be caused by viral or fungal infections, although bacterial infections are by far the most common cause.

Sepsis can also cause blood clots to form in your organs and in your arms, legs, fingers and toes leading to varying degrees of organ failure and tissue death (gangrene).

Neonatal Sepsis can also be due to infection with fungi, viruses, or parasites but it can be difficult to diagnose as newborns may be asymptomatic.

Symptoms of Sepsis

Symptoms of Sepsis are likely to include:

  • fever
  • warm skin
  • chills
  • shaking
  • rapid heart rate
  • skin rash
  • hyperventilation
  • hypothermia
  • confusion
  • delirium
  • drowsiness
  • a decrease in urination

However, the initial signs and symptoms of Sepsis are frequently non-specific, leading to a delay in diagnosis.

As with meningitis, the symptoms of Sepsis in children are not specific and vary from child to child.

If Sepsis is detected early enough and it has not yet affected vital organs, it may be possible to treat the condition at home with antibiotic tablets. If it is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not work.

With early treatment, a full recovery is made in most cases with no lasting problems.

Severe cases often result from a body-wide infection that spreads through the bloodstream, but Sepsis can also stem from a localized infection.

For example, in someone who already has kidney impairment, Sepsis can lead to kidney failure that requires lifelong dialysis.

Severe Sepsis causes poor organ function or insufficient blood flow and is usually treated with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.  It is a particular risk for people already in hospital due to another serious illness.

It is more common among males than females and the worldwide incidence of the disease is estimated to be 18 million cases per year.

That’s another incredible statistic for a disease many have never even heard of.

If you are in any doubt, please seek urgent medical attention.

Find out more at the UK Sepsis Trust where you can also make a donation to support their ongoing research.

Start Now To Help Your Child Grow Up Healthy

It’s normal for parents to want the best for their children and to see them grow up to be happy and healthy adults. But it’s only too easy for us to pass on our own bad habits to our kids so here are some children’s health tips to ensure your offspring thrive.  Who knows, they may even inspire you to join in – I know my daughter is certainly great at nagging me!

Tips for healthy kids

Take control of their diet now

It’s so easy to fall into bad habits when it comes to your kids’ diet. They want to eat sugary snacks after school, and it’s easy to give in to crisps and chocolate.

We are all familiar with ‘pester power’ but thankfully lots of supermarkets have now moved sweets and chocolate away from the checkouts so that it’s less of a high-risk activity if you have to drag them into the shop for a pint of milk on the way home.

You might be surprised to know that government reports from 2018 found that 20% of Year 6 children in the UK were already overweight so it’s more important than ever to try and limit their intake of high fat and sugary foods while they are young.

Try to find healthier snacks for your kids. Encourage them to eat carrot sticks with hummus and fruit with yoghurt, rather than heading for the crisps.

Also, you need to make healthy dinners that you can eat as a family. If you are all eating the same meal, your children hopefully won’t moan as much about the lack of chicken nuggets and chips!

Let them cook with you

A lot of the reason why people fall into unhealthy territory with foods is that they don’t actually know how to cook healthy dishes. It leads to people just sticking in an unhealthy ready meal into the oven!

Therefore, you need to teach your kids to cook as early as possible. That way, they will be able to cook and make healthy dishes when they are older. Involving your kids in the cooking and preparation will mean they are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables as they grow.

Image by Alexia Schu from Pixabay

Make them brush their teeth daily

It’s an unfortunate fact that a lot of people in the UK have bad dental health. They end up having teeth removed sooner rather than later. A lot of the reason is down to us not brushing our teeth enough. Research shows that 40% of us don’t even brush our teeth once a day!

By not brushing, plaque builds up, and people end up needing fillings, veneers and even dental implants to cover the imperfections. Therefore, you need to encourage your kids to brush their teeth every day. Also, make sure they attend their dental appointments every year. You should also be limiting their fizzy drink intake as this will cause long-term damage to your teeth.

Encourage them to exercise daily

You might not realise that only one in three kids is actually getting enough physical exercise every day. Instead of getting outside and being active, a lot of kids prefer to sit inside on their tablets, computers, and phones. But by doing this, they are more at risk of obesity and heart problems when they are older. Therefore, sign them up for an energetic class in the evening such as ballet, gymnastics or martial arts. By doing this, it will ensure they are getting regular exercise in their life.

Image Source

Remember that parents are one of the biggest influences in their children’s lives. So you need to lead by example and follow the tips for healthy kids above so that your children are inspired to follow suit. It’s something I have to remind myself of every day!

Do You Know How To Save A Baby From Choking?

Do you know how to save a baby from choking? It can happen so easily.  Uncut grapes, marshmallows, anything that little fingers can shove into their mouths – the risks are everywhere.

It’s a great time to revisit the campaign run by St John Ambulance (#thechokeables) which aims to raise awareness for parents and carers for children around the risks of choking and how to help a choking child.

Ieuan Hobbis March 2008
Ieuan in March 2008

They believe that everyone should have the skills and confidence to know what to do in an emergency.

Knowing basic first aid can be the difference between life and death – and every week they hear of new people whose lives have been saved because someone nearby knew what to do.

40% of parents asked by St John Ambulance have witnessed their own baby choke and it was found that almost four-fifths (80%!) don’t know what to do in this situation.

Using the voices of celebrities such as David Walliams, David Mitchell, Johnny Vegas and Sir John Hurt, St. John Ambulance made a short video called “The Chokeables” to show us how to help a choking baby.

In The Chokeables, the celebrities take on the characters of animated objects that could potentially choke babies: a small princess toy, a pen lid, a jelly baby and a peanut.

They’ve joined together because they’ve had enough and want to show how easy it is to save a choking baby’s life.

In just 40 seconds you can learn how to give first aid to a choking baby.

In case you missed the video the first time around, here it is.

Please watch it and share this post so that as many people as possible learn what to do.

#TheChokeables

For more information click HERE to help support St John Ambulance with this important campaign.

You’ll also find other helpful first aid resources for parents on their website including dedicated first aid advice videos, a download and keep first aid poster, the St John Ambulance app, and an essential first aid course.

Visit them at www.sja.org.uk.

Winter Family Travel Health Tips For A Happy Trip

Readers of this blog will know you are unlikely to find the Hobbis family in the wilds of the Serengeti nor running along the beaches of Thailand or scaling the foothills of the Himalayas.  Yet, at least.

One reason for this is that our track record, healthwise, when taking a holiday out of season is not great.

In fact,  The Husband has banned me from booking anywhere in the autumn half-term or anything pre-Easter after he was forced to take Ieuan to a glacial Pennywell Farm in Devon whilst I took Caitlin back to our holiday cottage to minister to her, and Mr Puke.

You can bet that if our two manage to avoid any school term bugs, they will surely hatch them for half term.

This does mean, however, that we know how to fully prepare ourselves for the bug onslaught and prevention is always better than cure as they say.

Here are our top winter family travel health tips to keep you and the kids happy, healthy and not desperately phoning around for a pharmacy at stupid-o-clock on your long-awaited holiday. (Have you noticed how kids always announce ear infections and other diseases at 5 pm on Fridays or as soon as you get in the car?).

winter family travel health tips - teddy bear in a suitcase

WINTER FAMILY TRAVEL HEALTH TIPS BEFORE YOU GO

Travel Insurance

Better to be safe than sorry but make sure you read the terms and conditions fully before you set off. For example, are pre-existing medical conditions covered on your policy?

European Health Insurance Card

This replaces the old E111 and gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland.

The EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until your planned return home. Treatment should be provided on the same basis as it would to a resident of that country, either at a reduced cost or, in many cases, for free.

This may all change, of course, depending on what happens with BREXIT.  Currently, no changes have been confirmed.

At the moment, the EHIC is free. To get one, just fill out an application on the EHIC website or by calling the NHS on 0300 330 1350.

Note that an EHIC is NOT a substitute for travel insurance.

Existing Prescriptions

Make sure you’ve enough to cover yourself when on holiday.  For me, it means making sure I’m not about to run out of my thyroid medication.  Also, consider contraceptive pills and any other ongoing medication.

Again, things may change depending on BREXIT.

First Aid Kit

We always keep one of these in the car boot but you need to make sure that it is checked and missing items replaced before you go. You can never have too many plasters.

Thermometer

Taking a temperature is always a good gauge of how bad a child’s infection really is – particularly in the case of things like ear infections or the sniffles.  In the case of a high temperature, see medical help as quickly as possible, especially with a very young child.

Allergy Relief

The Husband and Ieuan suffer from hayfever, I have a dust allergy and Caitlin gets covered in blotches if she eats certain sweets (Starburst, for example) so we pack the Piriton and, for the Husband, Beconase. Oh, and lots of tissues!

Child’s Pain Relief

Nurofen (Ibuprofen) and Calpol are family staples. Sachets are easier to pack than the bottles though. If you’re flying though you can only take liquids to the maximum of 100ml.

Sun Protection

Yes, they even have sun in Devon.  Obviously a basic if you are going anywhere warm.  If the kids are going swimming, pack water-resistant sun cream, hats, tee-shirts or even full body suits.

Probiotics

Children can’t take diarrhoea tablets like Imodium so the best way to help a child with a poorly tummy is to stick to the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast). You can also give them a probiotic.  I often give my two probiotics during term time too – you can get rather yummy tasting chocolate ones which they don’t mind at all.

Rehydration Drinks

Rehydration is really important to replace the body’s salt and sugar if you or your child do have the runs.  Rehydration sachets just need to be mixed with water and come in different flavours to help disguise the taste.

winter family travel health tips - child swimming in a pool

WINTER FAMILY TRAVEL HEALTH TIPS FOR WHILE YOU’RE THERE

You can’t protect against every eventuality, of course, but there are basic steps you can take to try to minimise the bugs.

Wash your hands

We are always horrified how many people in motorway services toilets just walk out without washing their hands! Make sure you wash your hands – especially before eating.  I always carry hand sanitizer in my handbag in the event of finding a less than pristine loo – which is frequent!  You’ll find more tips for health hygiene on the go in this post.

Make sure food is properly cooked

Buffets are notorious for being the source of food bugs, particularly where food is kept warm for long periods of time. I managed to lose a stone in weight whilst on holiday in Egypt many years ago due to a dodgy curry from the hotel buffet.

Be wary of ice in drinks

Another great source of bacteria and germs, ice in drinks and drinks glasses that haven’t been properly washed.  If you’re served a drink in a less than clean glass send it back and avoid ice if you can.

Stick to bottled water

In countries where the water might be less than drinkable, stick to bottled water, particularly for little ones.  Avoiding untreated water when swimming might also be a good idea – for example badly maintained swimming pools!

winter family travel health tips - man on beach with 2 children

IF YOU DO FALL ILL

If you are unlucky enough to fall ill, you might want to check out if you are entitled to make a legal claim by contacting a Law Society accredited law firm.

Don’t be taken in by touts or claims farmers – we’ve all read about the consequences of fraudulently claiming for food poisoning – nowadays you might find yourself holidaying at Her Majesty’s Pleasure!  Make sure you contact professionals who can explain your rights to you and properly assess whether you have a valid claim.

Did you know, for example, that claims for illness while on holiday are covered by ‘The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations Act’?

The Act says that if something you’ve paid for is not as expected, fails to meet standards or causes you illness or injury while on holiday, you can make a claim.

And in the cases of food poisoning claims (“foodborne illnesses”), you are only covered if you paid for an all-inclusive holiday package where you never ate outside of your hotel.

Which means I might well have had a claim all those years ago when I visited Egypt.  As it was I was visited by a doctor who gave me an injection in my bottom (or what I have no idea) and wrote me a doctor’s note diagnosing “psychic problems”.

It makes having to lug a vat of Calpol and plasters down the M5 positively a joyous day out, doesn’t it?

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Keep Your Family Healthy This Spring

We have survived another dank and dismal UK winter and are heading towards spring. Just the word lifts the spirits.  We start to think of brighter, lighter days and evenings with the promise of summer warmth and lazing on beaches in the sun. But now that the kids are back at school and with colds and flu about, how do you keep your family healthy?

Family outside in a garden sitting on a log - how to keep your family healthy

Rather than stress yourself out by making wholesale changes, try subtle tweaks to your routine to gradually improve everyone’s health – including your own.

Here are some great ways to improve your health as a family.

Get outside together and make the most of the daylight

Did you know that in the UK we get most of our Vitamin D from sunlight exposure from late March to the end of September?

Vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet, minerals which are important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

We make sure we take the kids out for a brisk weekend walk through our local woods, to our nearby beaches (usually Penarth) or Cosmeston nature reserve.

But make sure you use sunscreen

Many skin experts agree that THE most important thing we can do to protect our skin against ageing is to use sunscreen.

And we know how vital it is to protect our little ones’ skin against the power of the sun. The NHS advises that children under 6 months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight and that, from March to October in the UK children should cover up with suitable clothing and spend time in the shade (particularly from 11am to 3pm) and wear a sunscreen of at least SPF15.

In fact, Cancer Research UK says that getting painful sunburn, just once every 2 years, can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer.

Early nights

We’ve always tried to maintain a regular bedtime routine for the kids (around 7:30 pm) which is just as important now that they are 9 and 7 as it was when they were babies.

Things tend to lapse during school holidays though but even then 8:30 pm tends to be the latest as the kids are grumpy and tired the next day.

We try to limit screen time before bed because research shows that it affects our sleep patterns, making it harder to drop off.

And the kids still have a drink of milk which, even if the jury is still out on whether the tryptophan it contains actually helps you sleep, has the effect of signalling it’s time to relax and switch off.

Strawberries in a kilner jar - keep your family healthy

Eat fresh and organic

We’ve all heard this a million times and it is basic, common sense advice.  Many people feel that organic food is overpriced and there certainly seems to be a noticeable price hike on produce such as organic berries.

To make the most of our food budget it’s worth remembering that some organic fruits and vegetables are worse than others for containing pesticide residue – according to the campaigning charity Pesticide Action Network (PAN UK).

It all depends on the farming methods used so they advise switching to organic for the food most affected by chemicals and sticking with the standard versions of the least affected if budget is an issue.

So which fruits and vegetables should we always consider buying organic?  You can find a helpful list in this article from The Telegraph newspaper published in November 2015.

Protect young tummies with probiotics

There’s nothing worse than an outbreak of the dreaded sickness bug and one simple way you can help your children’s immune systems strong and hopefully keep the bugs away is to give them a probiotic.

These are live bacteria and yeasts in the form of a food supplement or yoghurt drink and are promoted as having various health benefits.

Probiotics are also thought to help restore the natural balance of bacteria in the gut when it has been disrupted by an illness or treatment.

As yet,  the NHS says there is little evidence to support many of the health claims made for them but I give Caitlin and Ieuan a probiotic every morning on the basis that it is unlikely to harm them and if it saves me having to swab down the bathroom – great!

Make drinking water interesting

We know that drinking water is vital for our health.  According to the National Hydration Council, kids should be drinking anywhere between 1.6 litres (ages 4-8) up to 2.1 litres (ages 9-13) a day. Note that this amount is water from drinks and food and includes milk, vegetable and fruit juices and plain unsweetened drinks.

As adults, we should be drinking around 2.5 litres a day for men and 2.0 litres for women.

We try to stay away from highly sweetened drinks and choose no added sugar squashes but we also serve up a jug of water at mealtimes to which we sometimes add ice and chopped fruits like strawberry slices and lemon.

We also try to bribe the kids with funky water bottles and glasses.

Lemon tea in a glass

We’ve found if we drink it, the kids are more likely to join in.  As they say you have to model the behaviour you want to see.

As you can see, there are loads of small changes you can make to get your family healthier without breaking the bank.  You can find some great ideas in this book by TV doctor Dr. Rangan Chatterjee or check out this post from The Mamma Fairy for more tips on keeping the family in the peak of health.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that the family’s medicine chest is fully stocked with everything you might need for minor injuries and illnesses.  We’ve usually got a bottle of Calpol stashed away and a job lot of plasters!

And remember the healing power of oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’ which is released whenever we share a hug.

That’s an easy one, isn’t it?  What are your best tips to keep your family healthy?

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Keep your family healthy this spring with these simple tips

 

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Puressentiel Anti Lice Treatment Lotion & Spray – See Off Nits The Natural Way

Well 2017 started with an itch.

Yes, we succumbed to those pesky head lice and spent the days before the new term combing, spraying and basically trying to nuke the little critters with pretty much any solution we could get our hands on.

nits - Puressential Anti-Lice lotion - collage of shots showing the product in use

Even worse?  I got them.

And let me tell you if you have long-ish hair they are a nightmare.

If you have coloured hair, an additional joyous problem is that many of the chemical nit preparations on the market do a sterling job of stripping out your hair colour if you dye your hair.

This was our first time with the blight and we didn’t really know much about them.

What are the signs of head lice?

If your child comes home complaining of an itchy scalp then it’s time to start checking for “visitors” – particularly if the itchiness is behind the ears, near the nape of the neck and along the hairline.

Head lice are tiny insects that live in hair and nits are the empty egg cases attached to hair that head lice hatch from.

What does a louse look like anyway?

nits - female human head louse
Image Credit: The Female Head Louse

A head louse is a small insect, visible to the naked eye, about the size of a sesame seed (2 to 3 mm),
which lives on the scalp and feeds on human blood.

It has six legs armed with pincers used to cling to
the hair, they move very quickly, which explains why it is so hard to catch them.

The exciting life of a louse

The life cycle of a louse lasts approximately 50 days during which female lice lay 5 to 10 eggs (nits) per day.

After a week, the egg hatches and the embryo becomes a larva, which will reach adulthood in 2 weeks.

The adult lice live for about 30 days on a person’s head. The lice multiply rapidly, so you must act quickly.

Head Lice Myths

Lice are a sign of poor hygiene.

No – getting head lice has nothing to do with your family’s hygiene habits. In fact, lice are very resistant to soap and water.

You should keep your kids home from school.

No – taking time off school is not necessary.

Although the back-to-school period is an ideal time for lice to spread due to close contact between children, the transmission of the lice occurs directly through contact between two children (touching hair).

There is also a slight chance of catching them by sharing combs and brushes.

Lice cannot fly, jump or survive longer than 4 to 36 hours away from the scalp.

So how do we get rid of lice?

Basically, you can either use synthetic chemicals which can be harmful to the environment – and therefore possibly your health (such as those formulated with dimethicone and silicone derivative) or lotions formulated with vegetable oils which are natural such as the Puressentiel Anti-Lice range which is guaranteed to be 100% natural.

Both methods aim to suffocate the lice but whilst the chemical formulae are aggressive, neurotoxic and irritating to the scalp, the natural versions coat the lice with greasy substances which obstruct their respiratory openings.

Over the past 10 years, research suggests that lice have in fact become resistant to the chemical anti-lice products which, given the hefty price tag some of them carry, is very frustrating indeed.

A natural way to get rid of lice

Puressentiel Anti-Lice Treatment Lotion, on the other hand, is made from essential oils and naturally active ingredients.

It was created by the French family-owned Laboratoire Puressentiel in 2005 – a company specialising in the design of aromatherapy and plant-based organic products.

Lotions are considered to be more effective than shampoos because they are more concentrated. After all,  shampoos are diluted with water.

The lotion kills lice, larvae and nits safely and comes with a handy nit comb. You won’t find any chemicals.  Its 100% natural formula contains plant oils such as coconut, calophyllum, jojoba, sunflower, sweet almond and castor, which act mechanically by obstructing the respiratory openings of the lice, larvae and nits.

The lice are unable to develop resistance due to the asphyxiation mechanism.

There are also essential oils of lavender, clove, tea tree, geranium, which are soothing and antiseptic, ideal for relieving scalp itching.

Its formula is gentle on hair and the environment and leaves hair silky and shiny.

The applicator bottle is easy and practical to use and it has a fresh and pleasant fragrance, unlike some of the synthetic lotions.

It is suitable for use by adults and children over 3 years.

Best of all, it starts to work after only 10 minutes.

 

There is also Puressentiel Repellant Spray which offers effective protection against lice for up to 24 hours in the event of an outbreak.

It contains Citriodiol®, a 100% natural substance derived from lemon Eucalyptus essential oil which has a repellent action to rival its chemical rivals.

What did I think?

I found both products easy to use and loved that there was no harsh chemical smell.  I tested the anti-lice lotion exactly as instructed and found that it did not irritate my scalp.

Because it is an oil-based product, you may find you need a shampoo for oily hair to wash it out effectively – and possibly more than one wash.

I used my usual conditioner afterwards, although you can just treat, wash and detangle using the nit comb provided.

The comb is of good quality and built to last – which is handy!

My hair was left in good condition without any lingering scent of the product and my scalp felt soothed.

The kids tested the spray which, is easy to apply and comb through and doesn’t leave the hair greasy.

Puressentiel Anti-Lice Treatment Lotion + Comb and Puressentiel Lice Repellant Spray are available at Boots, online at Amazon and at Lloyds Pharmacy in-store and online.

Puressentiel also offers a range of other natural products including their Purifying, Respiratory, Rest & Relax and Muscles & Joints ranges, as well as a selection of diffusers.

The company is committed to respecting nature by adopting an eco-responsible attitude, from the harvesting of the raw materials to the manufacturing of each of its products.

If you are looking for a safer, natural solution to the annoying problem of head lice, Puressential is well worth a try.

Update April 2018: Since our initial bottle we have bought this product several times and I like it because it is a non-chemical solution to those annoying little critters.  The smell of the lotion is rather pungent and lingers a while after treatment but that is a small price to pay.

You do have to repeat the treatment after 3 days and, if you have long hair, you’ll need one bottle per treatment which doesn’t work out the cheapest option.  That said, anything that gets rid of the blighters is a godsend and if you have coloured hair like me, using anything with strong chemicals tends to strip the colour  – yet more expense of having your highlights redone.

I wish that, when the “head lice alert” letter came out from school, everyone was equally as diligent to remove the pests – I strongly suspect that some parents don’t worry about headlice and don’t bother to treat them.  Given the amount of scratching the kids do when they get them, I’m not sure I could ignore it!

Find out more at www.puressentiel.com.  You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.

*collaborative post

What is Scarlet Fever?

Parents are being warned to look out for symptoms of scarlet fever as the number of cases is growing quickly in parts of England and Wales.

In fact, the number of cases has reached an almost 50-year high and yet how many of us know anything about this disease?

scarlet fever - picture of child with flushed cheeks

Scarlet fever is a highly contagious disease caused by an infection with bacteria in the group A Streptococcus (the same bacteria that cause strep throat).

It mainly affects children with those aged between 2-8 being most at risk.

Scarlet fever is treatable with antibiotics and usually is a mild illness, but it needs to be treated to prevent rare but serious long-term health problems.

There is no vaccine.

The incubation period for this disease is about 12 hours to seven days.

Scarlet fever is usually spread by the aerosol route (inhalation), but may also be spread by skin contact or anything capable of carrying infection including skin cells, hair, clothing and bedding.

As it’s so contagious, scarlet fever is likely to affect someone in close contact with a person with a sore throat or skin infection caused by streptococcus bacteria.

Early symptoms to look out for are a sore throat, headache and fever with a pinkish/red sandpapery rash appearing within a day or two.

The rash usually first appears on the chest and stomach before spreading to other parts of the body.

Scarlet fever is usually treated with a 10-day course of antibiotics, often in the form of penicillin or amoxicillin tablets, although liquid may be used for young children.

The fever usually gets better within 24 hours of starting antibiotics, with the other symptoms disappearing within a few days.

If scarlet fever has been caught as a result of a throat infection, the fever usually goes within 3 to 5 days, and the sore throat passes soon afterwards.

The scarlet rash usually fades on the sixth day after sore throat symptoms began, but skin that was covered by rash may begin to peel. This peeling may last 10 days.

You should keep your child away from nursery or school for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotic treatment.

Adults with scarlet fever should also stay off work for at least 24 hours after starting treatment.

You can also take some simple self-care measures such as:-

– drinking plenty of cool fluids
– eating soft foods (if your throat is painful)
– taking paracetamol to bring down a high temperature
– using calamine lotion or antihistamine tablets to relieve itching

For further information go to the NHS website.

When Should You Keep Your Child Off School?

It’s the question every parent has to ask themselves and at least once a term.  You can guarantee that as soon as a new term starts, back come the bugs, viruses and nits!

I don’t feel well!

We all dread those 4 little words – “I don’t feel well” or the telephone call from the school requesting that your little one be picked up due to illness. We know that we are not supposed to take them back, at least in the case of sickness, for 48 hours.

Dad cuddling child - when should you keep your child off school?

We also know that many parents don’t stick to that rule, much to the annoyance of teaching staff and those parents who fear their kids may now go down with the latest bug.

The challenge of being a working parent.

It’s easy to be judgmental but, if parents work, it may come down to a straight choice between the health of their child and keeping their job.

Part time jobs, in particular, are difficult to come by and I know from my experience in the Legal Sector that part time positions are often created simply to be seen as adhering to “good” HR practice and in order to create roles for female employees returning from maternity leave!

The job may be part time, but the workload certainly isn’t.  5 days work is cantilevered into 3 and woe betide you if you have to leave early to pick up a poorly child. You’ll be equally unpopular with your bosses and the employees who have to pick up the slack in your absence.

If there is a tender document to submit or a presentation to give, you’d have to be very brave indeed to miss it. Come appraisal and pay-review time, the discussion will be about whether you are a ‘team player’.  Law firms are very fond of ‘team players’, despite having a hierarchy which is anything but flat.

This is without taking into account the cost and scarcity of good childcare.  Our local childminders all seem to be oversubscribed and are followed into the playground by ever increasing numbers of children.

Breakfast clubs and after school clubs are thriving.  In fact, so popular are they in Caitlin and Ieuan’s school that the playground is often comparatively deserted in the mornings, with the children outside looking enviously at the children safe and warm within.

Many parents rely on their parents to help with childcare but if you had your kids later in life as I did, you may find your parents are elderly or too infirm to take on the challenging responsibility of looking after little ones.

In fact, you may find that you are dashing back and forth caring for sickly children and ailing parents!

No wonder with this kind of physical and emotional load to carry, some parents just send their kids into school and hope for the best.

So when should you keep your child off school?

Be aware that the Government is quite clear that children should only miss school if they are too ill to attend or they have advance permission from the school – otherwise a fine may be payable.

If your kids are showing clear symptoms then it’s a no-brainer but what do you do if they are a bit ‘under the weather’?

These are the illnesses the NHS say merit keeping your child at home depending on their severity:-

  • Cough and Cold
  • Raised Temperature
  • Rash
  • Headache
  • Vomiting & Diarrhoea
  • Sore throat
  • Chickenpox

But what do you do when they have had a rotten night’s sleep?  Ieuan, for example went through a phase where he suffered from growing pains and often woke up in the early hours clutching his legs. But he was not ill.

Ieuan being a 'patient' - when should you keep your child off school?

As adults when we get colds we know we just have to carry on and dose ourselves up with Lemsip. We don’t have the luxury of a duvet day.

Despite the fact that we are likely to infect our colleagues and our performance will be under par, many of us trudge unwillingly into work to hack and cough through the day.

If we let our children stay home for every cough and sniffle, what will happen when they really have to turn up and perform?

But when your kids awake bleary eyed, tired and weepy, complaining of head, ear or tummy aches, it takes a very hard mother not to want to scoop them up and put them back in bed.

Some of my fondest memories when ill are of being tucked up in bed by my mum, being fed tea and hot buttered toast, and listening to the radio.  There is nothing like a bit of parental attention and love to aid a speedy recovery.

These days there is, rightly, a greater focus on the mental health of our children and whilst the Government is clear about those physical illnesses that warrant an absence from school, surely it is time to think about including mental health problems in that list – anxiety and depression for example.

There is a huge difference between a child who wants a day off and one who is suffering from anxiety so badly that attending school brings on a flurry of unpleasant physical symptoms.

The advantage of being a stay at home mum

As a stay at home mum,  being nursed at home by me is a luxury I can offer my kids.  But I think it’s a shame that, as a society, we have got ourselves into a position where poorly kids have to be sent to school so that parents can keep a roof over their head.

We can, at least, make sure we practise good nutrition and take care of the family’s health in order to stave off as many of those horrid bugs as possible.

But otherwise I think it is the joint responsibility of both parents and school to educate our children about health, both physical and mental and for us all to work in partnership to ensure that we strike the right balance between health and education.

After all, a happy, healthy child is more likely to perform well in school which is surely what all of us want.

The Top 5 Vitamins You Need To Keep Winter Colds At Bay

It’s that time of year again.  Sniffles, sneezing, hacking coughs and temperatures.  And when one family member gets it, (usually one of the kids) the rest of us go down like dominoes! Yes, cold and ‘flu season is officially here and, in the wake of warnings from the chief executive of NHS England that Britain could face a possible flu epidemic, we need to make sure we are prepared by taking better care of ourselves, for example by stocking up on the best vitamins and minerals for colds and flu.

Want to know which ones they are?  Read on.

Here in the Hobbis Household we have already had a run in with the first winter cold of the season and the problem is, that, short of bed rest, fluids and, for grown-ups, a mug of Lemsip, there isn’t that much you can do about it, other than to let the bug run its course.

I’m sure you’ve seen the posters in your local doctor’s surgery saying that antibiotics don’t work for viruses – and antibiotic resistance is becoming a huge issue for the future health of the Nation.

We all know that maintaining a healthy immune system is key to warding off bugs but it isn’t always that simple – and, frankly, when you’re well you don’t worry so much about protecting your health.

The problem with this is not only that illness can crop up seemingly out of the blue, but you are putting those with an already compromised immune system at risk.

Both mum and dad have numerous health issues now.  Mum is recovering from a broken hip and Dad is on call 24/7 as her carer which is pretty exhausting for him.

As soon as sniffles hit, we make sure we stay away because if either of my parents gets an extra illness on top of their existing ailments, the consequences can be quite serious.

Similarly, my sister in law has 10-month-old twin boys so a visit there would be a no-no too!

best vitamins and minerals for colds and flu - orange juice, carrots, almonds, mushrooms and basil

So, how can you stay healthy in the approaching festive season when visiting friends and family is a pretty key activity?

The answer lies (as it usually does) in our diet. It’s quite ironic because as parents the importance of teaching good nutrition to our kids is really important, yet we are often rather negligent with our own diets!

But it can feel like a lot of discipline is needed to overhaul the family’s meals and snacks to move from empty calories, over-processed food and general junk, to foods that feed our bodies and health in general.

One of the easiest ways to help with this is to ensure we are eating a wide variety of foods to get enough vitamins and other key nutrients via a healthy diet so that our immune system stays fighting fit.

Best vitamins and minerals for colds and flu

Registered Dietitian Sian Porter suggests increasing intake of the following five vitamins and minerals which can all help our immune system function at its optimum. These are the best vitamins and minerals for colds and flu to stock up on.

Vitamin C

One of the easiest ways to get more Vitamin C is to drink orange juice.

There’s no need to go mad though – all you need is a daily 150ml glass of orange juice (fresh or concentrate as nutritionally they are exactly the same).

This amount provides all the daily vitamin C you need and counts as one of your five-a-day!

Perhaps what is not quite as well known is that orange juice is also a source of the B-vitamin folate and both vitamin C and folate help to keep the immune system healthy. Folate is needed for white blood cells which protect the body against infectious diseases and helps these to rapidly reproduce.

Iron

Popeye definitely had the right idea with his love of spinach.  As Sian says, “winter greens such as spinach are rich in essential nutrients including iron and served alongside a winter warming bean stew this makes perfect eating for the cough and cold season.”

Zinc

When it’s dark and dreary outside, it’s all too tempting to reach for the biscuit tin but Sian suggests swapping your sweet treats for a handful of almonds (28g).  Almonds are a great source of zinc which contributes to the healthy function of the immune system.

Selenium

Selenium is an important antioxidant with a role to play in normal immune function. Mushrooms are a great source of selenium and it’s easy to add them to stews and casseroles for extra taste and texture. You’ll find a great cookbook here.

Beta-carotene

Sian says: “As well the part of our immune system known as ‘innate immunity’, the body also has processes in place called ‘adaptive immunity’ which is when the body recognises a virus it has encountered before and initiates a response. Vitamin A (the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A) is needed for the development of cells which carry out this response. Adding veg rich in beta-carotene like carrots and red peppers will brighten up your winter dishes and boost your beta-carotene

So, increasing these 5 vitamins and minerals could help improve the strength of your immune system and ward off those nasty cold and flu bugs. That’s something we can all do – even if it’s just adding a glass of orange juice to your breakfast.

Here’s hoping for a flu-free winter for us all!

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Dealing With Stress When You Have a Special Needs Child

Being a parent is stressful in any family. When you have a special needs child, stress levels can go even higher.

You find yourself juggling with more than getting the kids to soccer practise after school, meeting with teachers on a limited basis and breaking up occasional sibling spats. A special needs child brings a whole new set of responsibilities.

parent and child holding hands

Along with those responsibilities come added stressors you may not be equipped to cope with. Here are some of the major causes of stress and what you can do to relieve the pressure.

Feeling Overwhelmed

If every minute of your day is taken up with the care of your disabled child, it’s no wonder you’re stressed. There are resources available to you when you have a special needs child. In Dubai, the Sanjay Shah Autism Rocks Support Centre offers a host of support services for parents. In the U.K., the Council for Disabled Children website features a list of resources, guidance and toolkits to assist parents. Nearly every community has some type of assistance available to parents of special needs children.

Guilt is the Worst

A parent of a special-needs child runs the gamut of emotions, but guilt is most likely at the top of the list. Guilt over the fact that you have a child with special needs, guilt over not having time to spend with your partner, guilt over feelings of neglect towards your other children, guilt and worry about whether or not you’re doing everything you can for your special needs child—the list goes on.

The problem is that guilt is a destructive emotion and prevents you from moving forward. If you find yourself with overwhelming feelings of guilt, seek a professional’s help. You’ll be a stronger parent and better equipped to handle stressors when you put that unwarranted guilt to rest.

Worry About Your Partner and Other Children

Another source of stress when you have a special needs child is the worry about the effects on your partner and the other children in the household. You no longer have time to spend alone with your partner; the other children aren’t getting the nurturing they need. The family’s activities seem to revolve around your special needs child and no one else’s needs are being met. You used to have a life. Now you have a duty.

What You Can Do

A large part of the stress factor when you have a special needs child comes from feeling like you don’t have control anymore. But, you can regain control and make positive changes in your life and that of your family. Here’s how:

  • Maintain a Regular Routine: Daily routines, such as regular bed and bath times, meal times and wake up times as well as weekly routines for chores and other activities ensure the family works together. The special needs child should be included in all of the family routines according to his or her ability. Shared routines go beyond simply getting things done, they also build a sense of cohesion within the family.
  • Involve Everyone in Family Decisions: Everyone needs a chance to be heard. Involve everyone in family decisions in most areas. That’s not to say you hold a vote and the majority wins. But each member of the family, the special needs child included, needs to have a voice.
  • Have Some Fun: Ask everyone in the family to make a list of activities they enjoy. Lists might include big items (such as a trip to a theme park) or activities that can be done in the backyard (like playing catch). Make sure everyone gets to do something they enjoy as often as possible.
  • Nurture Your Other Children: If you can include your special needs child in most activities, fine. If not, find a caregiver for your special needs child and spend time doing what your other children love from time to time.
  • Spend Time With Your Partner: Get away with your partner. Maintaining a close bond with your partner is essential not just for your relationship, but for everyone involved.

 

Why You Shouldn’t Be Happy If Your Child Has A Suntan

After the recent heatwave in which the UK experienced the hottest June day since the summer of 1976, NHS England and the Met Office are reminding parents that a suntan is a sign of sun damage.

children playing in the sea

And a recent survey of 1000 parents with children under 11 suggests that a third of parents still believe going brown is good for children. Presumably, the same people who think slathering themselves in SPF 2 and stripping off as soon as the clouds part is a good idea.

A quarter has even encouraged their children to tan and, worse, a few have even allowed them to use sunbeds.

More than one in five (21%) of the parents questioned said they would only think about applying sunscreen if their child started to go red and burn.

Yes, it seems we still have an awful lot to learn about protecting ourselves against the damage the sun can do to our health, in particular, skin cancer.

A tan won’t stop the sun’s rays from causing harm and is our skin’s way of saying it’s damaged and is trying to protect itself.

It doesn’t even have to be warm. Since you can’t feel UV radiation, you can even get sunburnt on a cloudy day. The Met Office says that UV levels are usually highest between May and September and you can check the UV forecast on the Met Office website or app.

You know all those greyer, chillier summer mornings when you wonder whether you should slather sun cream on the kids before they go to school – well, you should.

We now know that repeated sun exposure can lead to skin cancer in later life.  Caitlin and Ieuan’s grandad has had at least 3 cancerous moles removed, most likely due to the (typically male) insistence that they don’t need sun cream.

It was in 1920’s that having a tan became a sign of wealth and influence because it meant you could travel to warmer climes. Tanning was allegedly made popular by the French fashion designer Coco Chanel.

Prior to that, it was a sign of being lower class as you were most likely a labourer or worked on the land in the heat of the sun.  A status symbol having a tan in past times was certainly not.

Funny how perceptions change, isn’t it?

So how should we be protecting our kids (and ourselves!) in the sun?

The basic advice is this:-

Infants under 6 months old should be kept OUT of direct strong sunlight.

From March to October in the UK children should cover up and spend time in the shade particularly from 11:00 am to 15:00 pm.

(I still find it gob-smacking that some school trips are organised for the beach at the hottest time of the day).

Kids should wear at least SPF15 sunscreen – mine get covered in SPF30 minimum. Face, ears, back of the neck, nape of the neck, arms and legs if they’re off to school.

Yes, it adds a good extra 10 minutes to the morning routine but it’s too important to miss.

Mine also wear sun hats and some of the best hats have a flap at the back of the neck to protect the delicate skin there.

Everyone should drink plenty of water to keep hydrated – that’s water not fizzy, sugary drinks.

You’ve probably heard, conversely, that we need some exposure to the sun to boost our Vitamin D levels but, according to Dr Nigel Acheson from NHS England, the recommendation is “that people spend no longer than 10 to 15 minutes in the UK summer sun, unprotected, several times a week”.

When that time is up you should apply sun protection.

A very handy mantra to use is ‘slip, slop, slap‘ – originally from the anti-skin cancer campaign in Australia in the 80’s featuring Sid The Seagull and recently updated.

Slip on sun protective clothing that covers as much of your body as possible.

Slop on SPF 30 or higher broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every two hours when outdoors or more often if perspiring or swimming.

Slap on a broad-brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears.

Seek shade.

Slide on sunglasses.

Wise advice for all ages.