CDC’s Breastfeeding Report Card gives us some hope for healthier babies

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its 2018 Breastfeeding Report Card. How is the U.S. and Texas doing when it comes to reaching the Healthy People 2020 goals that were established in 2010 by this committee that has representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Education.

In many areas, we’re meeting those goals. 83.2 percent of infants in the U.S. have been breastfed at least once. (the goal was 81.9 percent). We’ve also more than met the proportion of infants who are breastfed at a year (35.9 percent are); and the percentage at three months (46.9 percent are). The six-month mark we didn’t quite hit the mark in infants who are breast fed (57.6 percent vs. the goal of 60.6 percent) or those that are exclusively breastfed at that time (24.9 percent vs. the goal of 25.5 percent). We also didn’t do as well as hoped in the percentage of infants given formula before 2 days old (17.2 percent instead of 14.2 percent).

That six-month mark is important because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants are exclusively breastfed the first six months and then it becomes a part of the diet as food is introduced. 

How did Texas do when it came to these numbers?

  • 85.0 percent of infants were ever breastfed
  • 56.6 percent were breastfeeding at 6 months
  • 35.2 percent were breastfeeding at 12 months
  • 48.0 percent were exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months
  • 24.1 percent were exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months
  • 18.3 percent of infants were given formula before 2 days of age

RELATED: What can pediatricians do to encourage breastfeeding?

What can you do to encourage a new mom to breastfeed?

  • Make sure she checks out what kind of support she’ll receive at her hospital when it comes to lactation consulting. Hint: It’s usually 3 a.m. when you need a consultant. Babies feed just great from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • She can also ask the hospital what percentage of their infants are given formula vs. babies that are exclusively breastfed while there.
  • Feed her. Bring her healthy meals and plenty of water.
  • Offer to take care of her other child, help around the house or hold the baby while she takes a nap.
  • If she’s a work colleague, link her to another mom who has been pumping at work, who can help her make the transition back to work easier.
  • Link her to your local La Leche League. 
  • Connect her to Mothers’ Milk Bank to become a milk donor. 
  • Realize that sometimes there are reasons why breastfeeding wasn’t the right choice for that mom and baby and do not pass judgement.

RELATED: Doctor wants you to stop feeling guilty about no breastfeeding.

RELATED: Does breastfeeding reduce your risk of breast cancer?

RELATED: Does breastfeeding reduce your risk of endometrial cancer?

Keep kids hydrated, safe from heat stroke at recess, band and football practice

Every afternoon around Central Texas, the band kids are marking their halftime performances on the parking lot pavement. The football players are practicing downs on the field. The cross country runners are setting new paces on trails and sidewalks. And the elementary-schoolers are on the playground for recess.

And it’s 100+ degrees.

Members of the Bowie Bulldogs including senior nose guard/tackle Cooper Laake, prepare for this season at a practice. RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

We asked Dr. Lisa Gaw, a pediatrician with Texas Children’s Urgent Care, to give us some tips on keeping kids cool, hydrated and not experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

How much and how often should you drink water?

If you’re out in the sun, she recommends that at least every 15 to 20 minutes you take a break and drink water. If you feel thirsty, you need to drink water. That’s a sign that your body is in the earliest stages of being too hot.

Rather than give you a ratio of how many ounces of water per hour, Dr. Gaw likes to tell parents and kids that your urine should be closer to a light lemonade-colored yellow rather than a yellow that looks more like apple juice.

If you no longer feel the need to go to the bathroom, that’s a warning sign.

Should it always be water?

Water is great, but if a kid is very active, think about a sports drink like Powerade or Gatorade to replace the electrolytes and salt rather than just water. What you don’t need is an energy drink like a Red Bull or a Monster drink. You don’t need the caffeine. The same is true for soda.

Charles Vancil wears a hat to stay cool from the heat as the Connally High School Band takes precautions against heat while practicing outside. Photo by Ariana Garcia

What are the warning signs of becoming overheated, having heat exhaustion or heat stroke?

The first warning sign is that you are thirsty. You might also have muscle cramps.

For heat exhaustion, you might feel hot, dizzy, light-headed, nauseated or weak.

With heat stroke, you’ll feel all of those things, but you’ll also feel confused, possibly become unresponsive. Your body won’t be able to regulate its temperature, and your body temperature could climb to 104 to 106 degrees. You’ll stop sweating because you cannot regulate your temperature.

What should you do if you or someone else is experiencing these symptoms?

If someone becomes unresponsive or is very confused, call 911.

For less-severe symptoms, go to a cool, shaded area, hopefully with some air circulation. The person should start sipping water. Add cool towels or cool compresses around their neck, in their groin area or under their armpits to cool down their core temperature.

Want to have a great school year? Follow these teachers’ advice

Some kids around Central Texas started school this week. Others start next week or the week after.

We’ve already shared what advice teachers have for parents at the start of the school year, but what about the rest of the year?

Mirielle Badgley-Finan and Avery Knox are excited about school starting. Now let’s keep that excitement all year long. LYNDA M. GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Here’s what they suggest:

Avoid being overscheduled. Before signing up for many after-school activities, see what you can handle with school. Try to avoid late evening extracurriculars. Sleep is important.

RELATED: How to help shy, introverted kids go back to school

Have a backpack and binder cleaning out party regularly. Consider doing it whenever we have a school holiday or at the start of a new grading period.

Establish positive communication with teachers, parents. Read the regular emails and notes your child’s teachers sends. Ask questions but not in an accusatory way.

RELATED: Parents want to hear more from teachers, teachers want to hear more from parents

Look for ways you can help teachers. Does that teacher need help copying papers or cutting things for an upcoming project? Ask how you can help, even if you can’t be at school during daytime hours.

Attend as many school activities as possible. If you can, chaperone a field trip. Come to games and performances. Be that embarrassing fan in the stand cheering for your kid, just don’t undermine the coach or director.

RELATED: What does your school nurse want to know?

Give teachers praise. Like something that the teacher did for your child or the rest of the class? Parents and students always can drop teachers a handwritten note or an email. ‘Thank you” goes a long way. Think about nominating a particularly great teacher for an award.

Get to know the staff at your school. The principal and vice-principals, the secretaries, the counselors all can be good allies to have.

RELATED: What to ask on Meet the Teacher night?

RELATED: How to take a great first day of school photo?

Sources: Inez Flores, Mills Elementary; Erica Green, Kiker Elementary; Juli Naranjo, Cowan Elementary; Beth Ann Cole, Boone Elementary; Lori Pearce, Fulmore Middle School; Nancy Stewart, Cedar Park Middle School; Katherine Ratcliffe, Kealing Middle School; Jo Patrick, Fulmore Middle School.

RELATED: Sending a kid off to college? Follow these tips

Celebrate bats, beasts and mutant turtles this weekend with the family, Aug. 17-19

Guess what? It’s still going to be hot this weekend with temps hitting 100+. Make the best of it by exploring these family events:

Katherine Van Hook, 10 hung out at the Austin Bat Fest in her bat hat. American-Statesman 2007

FRIDAY

“My Little Pony: The Movie,” 3:30 p.m. Friday, Carver Branch. library.austintexas.gov

Early Learner Playtime. 10:30 a.m. Friday, Central Library.

Teen Videogame Free Play. 1 p.m. Friday, Central Library.

Lego Lab. 2 p.m. Friday, University Hills Branch.

Kids Create Fidget Spinners. 2:30 p.m. Friday, Yarborough Branch.

Friday Movie Matinee. “Ferdinand.” 3:30 p.m. Friday, Old Quarry Branch.

Art Smart “We Read” Community Mural Project. . 1 p.m. Friday, Pleasant Hill Branch.

FRIDAY-SATURDAY

Cedar Park Rodeo comes to the H-E-B Center. See the ropers and riders inside an air-conditioned venue. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. $12-$27. H-E-B Center, 2100 Avenue of the Stars, Cedar Park. hebcenter.com

FRIDAY-SUNDAY

“Beauty and the Beast” at Zach Theatre. 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. $25-$150. Zach Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. zachtheatre.org

Alamo Drafthouse Kids Camp offers morning movies for a $1 to $5 donation.  “Despicable Me.” 10:20 a.m. Friday-Sunday, Mueller. 10:20 a.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, 10:40 a.m. Sunday, Slaughter Lane. “Kung Fu Panda.” 10 a.m. Friday-Sunday, Lakeline.  “Space Jam” Cereal Party. 1 p.m. Lakeline. 1:45 p.m. Saturday, Mueller. 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Slaughter Lane. drafthouse.com

SATURDAY

Austin Bat Fest. Celebrate everything bat. Congress Avenue Bridge, 100 S. Congress Ave. 4 p.m. to midnight. Saturday. $15, kids 8 and younger free. roadwayevents.com/event/bat-fest.

Heroes in a Half Shell: A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Celebration. Mondo Gallery offers art of the cartoon. Family Day Party. Pizza, treats, face painting, photo booth and more. 10 a.m.-noon Saturday. Regular hours noon-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays Saturday-Aug. 25. Mondo Gallery is located at 4115 Guadalupe St. mondotees.com

Bullock MuseumYippee Yay! The rodeo exhibit comes to life with trick roping. 2 p.m. Saturday. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave. thestoryoftexas.com

Thinkery. Splash Into Summer this August for Baby Bloomers, 9 a.m. Saturdays. $5. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

BookPeople events. 10:30 a.m. story time. Back to School, Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com

Barnes & Noble 11 a.m. Saturday story times. This week hear “The Dinosaur Expert.” barnesandnoble.com

Girl Scout Girl Power story time. Bring a book to donate to BookSpring. Free. 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Westoak Woods Baptist Church, 2900 W. Slaughter Lane.

Tumble podcast records “The Surprising Story of Sea Stars’s Sticky Feet.” 11 a.m. Saturday. Science Mill, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City. sciencemill.org

SATURDAY-SUNDAY

Felt Food workshop. Kids 4 and older learn to sew by making food out of felt. 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

SUNDAY

Austin Symphony Hartman Concerts in the Park. 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Free. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org.

Create your own time capsule like in “Eighth Grade” at the start of this new school year

Some kids have already gone back to school this week and more are headed back next week or the week after. Mark this start of the new year with a memory box or memory letter a la “Eighth Grade.”

Elsie Fisher in “Eighth Grade.” (A24)

One of the sweetness of the movie is when Kayla opens the box her sixth-grade self left for her leaving-middle-school self. And then (spoiler) her eighth-grade self leaves a box for her leaving-high-school self.

What would your kids put in a box for them to open at the end of the school year? What would letter would they write to themselves?

Here are some questions to have them answer: (If your kid is a kid with some anxiety, only ask the positive ones, perhaps.)

RELATED: How to help shy, introverted kids go back to school

What are your hopes for this school year?

What are your fears about this school year?

What field trips or school events are you looking forward to? Which ones are you dreading?

Who are your friends? Who would you like to get to know better?

What’s your favorite thing to do after school?

What advice do you have to give yourself for this year?

What do you think your teacher/teachers are like?

What did you wear on the first day of school or what’s your favorite outfit?

What’s your favorite song?

What’s your favorite movie? What’s your favorite movie?

Include these things: 

First day of school photo

RELATED: How to take a good first-day-of-school photo

Picture of your favorite movie or book.

A flash drive with your favorite song.

A wrapper of your favorite snack food.

A letter to yourself.

Your first assignment in a class.

The first week of your school agenda.

Your class schedule.

Pictures of your lunch box or your backpack when it was new.

Minecraft convention Minefaire coming to Austin in September

Minecraft fans rejoice! The largest convention for a single video game is coming to Austin Sept. 15-16. Minefaire is expected to bring 15,000 people to the Austin Convention Center to celebrate the game.

What’s the big deal about Minecraft? If you have a kid in elementary school, you know. 

See a video of the convention:

Here are some of the things you can expect to see at Minefaire:

  • Minecraft Virtual Reality Experience: Play Minecraft with virtual reality.
  • Learning Lab: Learn from Minecraft Education Global Mentors who use Minecraft in the classroom.
  • Build Battles and Challenges: Compete in live gaming arenas, code within the game and learn to solve problems in creative ways.
  • Minecraft Costume Contest: Dress up, dance and have fun on stage as your favorite Minecraft characters.
  • YouTube Meet & Greets: Meet Minecraft YouTube superstars who will share their favorite tips and tricks.
  • Nonstop, Live Stage Shows: Multiple stages will show different Minecraft experiences for different skill levels.
  • World’s Largest Official Minecraft Merchandise: Of course, there will be shopping.

Tickets are $49-$69.50, but kids younger than 2 are free. Find them at Minefaire.com.

 

Eight things to do the night before school starts

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The excitement is building. Kids are heading back to school, beginning Wednesday for kids in the Bastrop, Lake Travis and a few other districts. Over the course of the next two weeks, the school buses will be running again, the kids will be back to learning again.

RELATED: Do you know when school starts?

Are you ready?

Mirielle Badgley-Finan and Avery Knox are ready for school to start. LYNDA M. GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The night before is a crucial time. Get all of your ducks (and kids) in a row with these tips:

Related: Follow teachers’ advice for a smooth start to the school year

1. Pack the backpack. Make sure you have the basics: pencils, paper, house key (if kids come home before parents), phone (for older kids), and lunch.

2. Figure out where the bus stops. Where it stops and when changes each year. Go to your district’s bus stop finder. If your district has an app to track the bus download it.

Travis Bradley and Julian Gonzalez run for the bus. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

3. If you get to school by car, does the driver know how the carpool lane works at that school. Don’t be the car holding up traffic. Look at the school’s website for clues or ask the neighbor.

4. Make sure kids know where to go once they get to school. Do they go to assembly or their classroom that first day? For older kids, are they heading to homeroom (or whatever newfangled name that have for it) or their first class?

5. Pack the lunch. Make sure to have healthy things, not just junk food. Or load up your school lunch account with dollars.

6. Pick out clothes for the next day. It’s a big decision. Go for comfort and make sure it’s dress-code appropriate. Make sure you know where the shoes are.

7. Set your alarm. Actually set two alarms. We know you didn’t practice getting up earlier in the last few weeks. You don’t want to start the year by being late.

8. Get to bed early. Yep, we know it’s tough, and the excitement is making everyone want to burst. You can do it.

Related: How to take a great first day of school photo

Find more Back to School tips

We’ve got a website full of them: statesman.com/back-to-school-2018

Send in your first day of school photos

Send them to readerphotos@statesman.com or tag us @statesman on Twitter or Instagram.

Study: Children with healthy moms have less chance of obesity

Moms, when it comes to your child’s weight, you matter. A new study in the British Medical Journal confirms this.

The study looked at more than 24,000 children of more than 16,000 nurses enrolled in the Nurses Health Study II in the 1990s. The researchers specifically looked at children who were not obese before age 9 and where they were at age 14.

Families and birds flock to Mueller Lake Park. Going to a local park and being active is a great way to be a role model for health. AMERICAN-STATESMAN

What they found was that 5.3 percent of those children became obese in those five years. The risk of becoming obese was lower in children whose mothers had a body mass index between 18.5 and and 24.9, engaged in at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity, did not smoke and consumed alcohol in moderation.

Here’s the big takeaway: Children of mothers who had those markers of health had a 75 percent less chance of becoming overweight than the children whose mothers did not.

Those researchers found that it wasn’t just about the children’s healthy lifestyle, it was about the mothers’ as well.

Dr. Kelly Thorstad, a pediatrician at St. David’s Children’s Hospital and Lone Star Pediatrics, says that what this study shows is it’s not just about genetics. While genetics is a factor, it’s also about lifestyle and creating an environment of healthy habits.

“I think children learn what they live,” she says. “Having parents that have a healthy lifestyle that have a healthy weight … it will be good for the family.”

Some of the things she recommends families start doing are:

  • Control how much TV kids and parents are watching, and no TV in the bedrooms.
  • Have family meal times together to share those healthy habits.
  • No sugary drinks — and that includes juice. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended last year that babies younger than 1 should not have juice and to severely limit it to about 1/2 or 1 cup a day for most other children depending on age.  Sodas, don’t have any nutritional value; skip them.
  • Avoid fried food. Instead of counting calories, worry about the amount of fat.
  • Focus on serving size. We have trouble remembering what a healthy serving is, especially at restaurants. “Look at your plate,” she says. “Cut everything in half and that would be a normal serving size.”
  • Get good protein throughout the day, but especially at breakfast. Think boiled eggs, a protein bar without a lot of sugar, whole-grain cereal with milk or, better yet, yogurt with fruit and some whole-grain cereal on top.
  • Trade chips and cookies for fruits and vegetables as a snack after school and on the weekends.
  • Drink water.
  • Control what you bring into the house. If you don’t bring in junk food, it’s not available for eating, at least when they are at home.

Thorstad, of course, would like families to do all of these things, but if they can only do one thing, cutting out sugary drinks would be her choice.

Thorstad often has to have conversations with parents when their children’s weight is not at a healthy level. She says she always asks them if it would be OK to talk about weight.

RELATED: What doctors say about kids’ weight matters

She talks about their health more than their weight. It’s about not getting diabetes or having heart problems later.

Dr. Kelly Thorstad is a pediatrician, Lone Star Pediatrics and St. David’s Children’s Hospital.

She encourages them to make small changes like going for a walk at night as a family. She also encourages parents to not single out the kid who is obese from the rest of the family.

“For children to make big changes, it’s a family thing,” she says. “It’s not just the mother’s healthy lifestyle, it’s everyone in the family.”

And remember, let’s not blame the mother, or the mother’s mother, or her mother before her.

“If you come from a family that everybody has been obese for generations, you don’t have to accept that,” she says.

 

What to ask at Meet the Teacher event

This week, many elementary schools have Meet the Teacher events.

The folks at Edutopia website have compiled a list of 19 meaningful questions to ask your child’s teacher for a productive conversation during meet-the-teacher night.

Sixth grade teacher Sarita Lakey, left, greets student Brayan Lopez, as he arrives at Austin Achieve public school for the start of a new school year. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

As schools and parents across Central Texas prepare for the meet-and-greet, here are five questions from the Edutopia list that would work for most any grade level:

  • How will you respond if or when my child struggles in class?
  • What are the most important and complex (content-related) ideas my child needs to understand by the end of the year?
  • What kinds of questions do you suggest that I ask my children on a daily basis about your class?
  • Is there technology you’d recommend that can help support my child in self-directed learning?
  • What are the most common barriers you see to academic progress in your classroom?

RELATED: Teachers offer this advice for going back to school

Remember, Meet the Teacher is as much a get-to-know you session for you with the teacher and for the teacher with you. It’s also a crazy time for teachers who are meeting as many as 25 to 30 students and their parents for the first time.

Here are our don’ts for that day:

Find more information and tips about back to school with our special back to school site, statesman.com/back-to-school-2018.

— Statesman education editor Robert Eckhart contributed to this blog.

How to take a great first day of school photo

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RELATED: Do you know when your school starts? 

We want to see your first day of school pictures! If you do remember to take a photoS, send it to readerphotos@statesman.com or tag us @statesman on Twitter or Instagram.

Meredith Hemphill at her new school, Gullet Elementary, in 2004. Sarah Barnes

When you do take your photos, consider these things:

Think about the background and location. Make sure it doesn’t overpower the people in the photo.

Worry about the lighting. You want to see their faces and what they are wearing, not the shadows on their face or behind them.

Get a full-body shot if you can. You want to be able to see how little they are compared with what’s around them.

Take it in an identifying place to help you remember the year. We love to do it in front of the class list or the teacher’s door. It usually will say the grade and the teacher’s name.

Ben Villalpando couldn’t wait to start kindergarten in 2006. Now he’s a senior in high school.

Take it in the same spot each year. For years, we took our photos in front of the crayons that said “Cowan” at Cowan Elementary. Now we tend to have to sneak a photo session in the car on the way to the high school bus stop or drop-off line. The same background helps us see their growth.

Don’t worry about smiles. They might not smile. That makes it all the more memorable of who they are at this age.