Sunday, December 28, 2014

Weekly Poll: Do You Use Latex or Nitrile Gloves for Diaper Changes?

It's winter. It's that time of year when keeping the bad bugs to a minimum is something that's on every caregiver's mind. Do you take extra precautions when it comes to diaper changes or does your center have rules about wearing gloves? If you're the one making the rules, why have you chosen to wear gloves (or not) during diaper changes?

I'll share a story. I once worked with a group of infants and while it was not policy that we had to wear gloves, they were available for us if we wanted them. I was standing talking to another teacher while she was starting to change her babies. She put a pair of gloves on and changed the first child. Then, with gloves still on, she put that baby on the floor and then grabbed her next baby and started right in on the next diaper change.

I stopped her immediately and asked her why she was changing diapers that way and she told me she didn't need to wash her hands or anything since she had gloves on! I told her that the gloves were not to protect her hands from getting soiled, but rather it was to help stop contamination / spread of infection from one child to another or from the child to her / her to the child and that for it to be effective she would need to change gloves between each change. She told me she thought that would just be wasteful, but she did start changing the gloves. But then she didn't wash her hands between changes. In the state where I was working at the time, Texas, the licensing regulation stated, "If you use disposable gloves, you must discard them after each diaper change and wash your hands with soap and running water."

Later, I was subbing in the toddler room and noticed that the caregiver there did the same thing, so I talked to her about it as well. We were able to submit ideas for in-service classes so I added that to the list. I think I just put something general like "ways to prevent the spread of infection" so that I wasn't calling everyone out, but it was clear that we needed some re-education in that area.

Photo Credit: "Magic Kingdom - Diaper Changing Table" by David under CC by 2.0 license.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Helping Parents Deal with Separation Anxiety

I sometimes have children who experience separation anxiety when their parents are dropping them off for the day. It's a natural part of development, sure, but there are also things that you can do to alleviate a lot of those tears and fears.

I'm especially fond of tip #3 in this video: Commit to your Exit. Let parents know that it's not a bad idea at all to hang out for a few minutes while their child gets comfortable. I always welcomed that and it's so much easier on a child than drop-and-run. What I didn't enjoy, however, was when a child would get involved in an activity and was perfectly happy and then Mom or Dad would made a big show of leaving. A content, acclimated child would suddenly become stricken with sorrow after hearing, "OK honey, I'm leaving. Mommy's going. Bye. Sweetie? Sweetie? Look over here at me. Mommy has to go. I'm really leaving this time. Here I go. I'm going." Please know that if that's how parents are behaving at drop-off time, it's a trigger for their child's anxiety rather than a help and you should let the parent know about it and give them ideas about how to handle the situation better. (Send them a link to the video!)

At the same time, I wouldn't ever advise parents to sneak out the door just because they see their child is happy at play. Something as simple as a kiss on the forehead and, "Looks like you're having fun. I'll see you later," is all that's needed before they walk out the door. I've seen children have some pretty hard-to-calm breakdowns after realizing that a parent left without them knowing. It's a delicate balance between too much goodbye and not enough, but it's one worth finding.

Photo Credit: "Bye Bye Window" by ThreeErin under CC by ND 2.0 license.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Packing for the Beach

The last days of summer are here! Parents and caregivers everywhere are trying to sneak in those last sunny outings and vacations. And what better place than the beach? When my son became a toddler, one of the things I found myself pretty happy about was an increasingly lighter diaper bag. I just didn't need as much stuff as before. It was all too easy to just toss a few diapers, a sippy cup, snacks and a few first aid items like bandages into a bag for a short trip.

Then came that first trip to the beach. I suddenly found myself wanting to pack not just the diaper bag, but a full suitcase. Or two! I packed sunscreen, the giant stroller, bug spray, sand toys galore, umbrellas, beach balls, chairs, enough food to feed us for days and towels as big as blankets and more. I was so sure we'd need it all. After I was finished packing, however, I wasn't even sure how I was going to make it down to the beach with all that stuff in tow plus my kid!

As it turned out, he wasn't so sure about it, either, and wasn't willing to make multiple trips to the car for unpacking once he caught sight of all that sand and water. I ended up leaving most of the stuff in the car and didn't even need it anyway. The next trip rolled around and my task was shortened considerably. I managed to whittle my list down to a few essentials which included:

  • sunscreen
  • a blanket for the ground
  • a couple of towels for drying off
  • a small cooler for sippy cups and snacks
  • diapers and wipes
  • dry clothes for the ride home
  • a small first aid kit
  • a bucket full of toys small enough to be carried by my toddler

With just those few items, we always had fun at the beach and I was able to get everything in one load. That's not just smart, it's safer since you don't want your child out of your sight when you're near the water. I tried to stick to beaches where I knew I could grab some shade so I wouldn't have to bring the umbrella, but when in doubt, that came along, too.

What are the items that you can't live without when you take your kids to the beach? Are you a light packer or do you take everything plus the kitchen sink? Have you ever made the trip with all the children in your care and if so, how did that change what you took along? Share your list.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Parent Handout: Oatmeal Bath

Winter is here in full force and you've probably noticed some of the children in your care are experiencing this in the form of dry, red or itchy skin. I always like to put together newsletters and handouts for my parents where I include not just information about what's up in the classroom, but also helpful tips on saving money and caring for their children at home.

This letter can be incorporated into your own newsletter or sent out individually as you notice specific children who might need some skin soothing. For instance, every time you send a child home with chicken pox, just slip one of these notes into their backpack, folder or cubby. I also like to keep a little packet of bulk "Get Well Soon" cards around for these illnesses where I know the student is going to be gone for a while and missing buddies. Depending on the age of the children in your care, children can sign their names, draw a picture in the card or you can take dictation of a message.

Dear Parent:

I hope that this information about a colloidal oatmeal bath can help you with your child's recent skin irritation. This bath can be used to soothe general itchiness and that caused by dry skin, chicken pox, poison ivy, diaper rash, bug bites, eczema and sunburn. You can also buy a commercially-prepared product like the little Aveeno packets, but this recipe will save you money and you probably already have oatmeal at home.

First, take 2 cups of oatmeal (any type - including instant) and blend in a food processor, blender or coffee grinder until you have a fine powder. To test if you've ground the oats enough, stir a tablespoon into some warm water. It should dissolve easily and the water should look milky.

Store this powder in an air-tight container. For each bath, use about 1/3 to 1/2 cup oats sprinkled into the bath and then stirred with your hand. Some parents use a knee-high panty-hose filled with the powder and stretched over the water nozzle while the water is running to strain out any larger bits and avoid clumping.

I hope that your child's skin heals quickly. If you need any other information, I hope you'll let me know. I'd be happy to help you with any other resources you might need.