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Outdoor bug safety

When spending time outdoors, it's important to be mindful of the bugs around you. To keep you and your family safe and free from bug bites, follow these tips from pediatric nurse practitioner Taylor Little.

  • Always wear bug spray containing DEET
  • When applying to a small child, always spray into hands first then apply to the child
  • If wearing sunscreen, too, first apply sunscreen, then the bug spray.
  • Avoid times like dawn and dusk, as that's when bugs are most active
  • Wear long sleeves and pants when possible.
  • Check yourself and your children when you come inside to make sure nothing came in with you
  • If possible, take a shower upon coming in from the outdoors
  • In areas that area heavily wooded or overgrown, stay on trails and paths

For more information on health and wellness measures--including care options -- visit the UTMB Health Pediatric Primary Care page.

Taylor Little on outdoor bug safety

View Taylor Little's profile

Taylor Little is a certified family nurse practitioner who specializes in pediatric primary care. Originally from Houston, she's an avid runner and mom of two.

UTMB Health Pediatric and Adult Primary Care, Webster clinic

Healthy eating for children

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing infants aged six months or older to solid foods.

Essential to a child's growth and development, healthy eating is something that should be encouraged from an early age, as it will lead to a lifetime of better health and reduce risk of chronic disease later in life.

In those early stages of eating, it's important to focus on foods high in iron such as cereals, grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.

As children begin to age, focusing on a well-balanced diet that contains a good mix of proteins, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats is encouraged to ensure they develop strong bones and muscles and a robust immune system.

Additionally, aim to incorporate forms of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants as they play a vital role in enhanced memory, concentration and cognitive function. 

    For more information on health and wellness measures--including care options -- visit the UTMB Health Primary Care page.

    Healthy eating tips from a family nurse practitioner

    View Barbara Herrington's profile

    Barbara Herrington is board-certified by The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is bilingual in English and Serbian.

    UTMB Health Pediatric Primary Care, Lake Jackson clinic

    Morning routines and back to school

    To ease back-to-school jitters, pediatric physician's assistant Amy  Laird-Payne recommends establishing a good morning routine.

    Routines create predictability and familiarity and ease anxiety. Routines also offer children a chance to try some independence and gives them the opportunity to practice good self care habits they can use as an adult.

    When planning your morning routine it's important to do two things:

    • Take into account the needs of you and your child(ren)
    • Start the night before

    Ways you can prepare the night before:

    • Lay out outfits for the next day
    • Discuss hairstyles
    • Plan breakfast
    • Consider your FULL schedule for the next day, to ensure you have anything extra you'll need for after school and work.

    For more information on health and wellness measures--including care options -- visit the UTMB Health Primary Care page.

    For tips on how to have get a good night sleep to come in to your morning well-rested and ready to seize the day, read this blog on bedtime routines.

    Amy Laird-Payne on establishing morning routines

    View Amy Laird-Payne's profile

    Amy Laird-Payne, PA-C is passionate about empowering people to pursue their dreams and obtain great health. She lives in the Brazosport Area with her husband and 3 children.

    UTMB Health Pediatric Primary Care, Lake Jackson clinic

    Back-to-school immunizations

    Before sending the kiddos back to school, UTMB pediatrician Dr. Lee Elam recommends checking in with your child's health care provider to ensure they are up-to-date on all of their vaccinations.

    Below is a breakdown of routine immunizations administered throughout various stages of childhood and development. Additionally, Dr. Elam reminds parents that regular vaccines for COVID-19 and the flu are also available, with most clinics normally offering flu shots at the beginning of September. For the COVID-19 vaccines, she advises parents and guardians talk to their family's health care provider for the most up-to-date information about what's available to them.

    Typical pre-K and Kinder vaccinations

    • DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough "pertussis")
    • MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
    • Varicella (chickenpox)

    Typical 6th or 7th grade vaccinations

    • Tdap (booster of the DTaP originally administered before the age of 7)
    • HPV
    • Meningitis

    Typical vaccinations for 16-year-olds

    • Meningitis booster (to support original dosage from middle school)
    • Group B Meningitis

    A more  detailed breakdown of vaccinations throughout childhood is available in a previous blog post.

    For more information on children's health and wellness measures--including care options -- visit the UTMB Health Pediatrics page.

    Dr. Lee Elam on vaccinations

    View Dr. Lee Elams profile

    Dr. Lee Elam is happy to serve her hometown of Lake Jackson

    UTMB Health Pediatric Primary Care, Lake Jackson clinic.

    Avoiding sports-related heat injuries

    In Texas, when summer comes to a close and school begins, the heat and humidity don't magically disappear, so it's important for everyone, especially those engaging in fall semester sports to stay vigilant and mindful of how they're feeling when practicing and playing outdoors.

    Signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, including heat exhaustion, include nausea, fatigue, headaches and muscle cramps.

    To beat the heat and help prevent heat exhaustion, UTMB Health physician Dr. Stacy Leung has the following recommendations:

    • Take breaks in the shade and AC
    • Remove heavy pads and layers when cooling off
    • Build up your endurance and tolerance for the heat by starting with shorter periods of time outdoors then gradually increase it.
    • Drink plenty of liquids
    • Replenish salts if you're sweating a lot.

    For more information on health and wellness measures--including care options -- visit the UTMB Health Primary Care page.

    Dr. Stacy Leung on sports-related heat injuries

    View Dr. Stacy Leung's profile

    Dr. Stacy Leung is a native Houstonian who has clinical interests in primary care, sports and international medicine.

    UTMB Health Pediatric and Adult Primary Care, South Shore clinic

    Tips to ensure a trip to the beach is safe

    Planning a trip to the beach?

    Dr. Monica Thint offers these five tips to ensure you have a safe, fun time.

    • Always swim where there is a lifeguard.
    • Have a designated water watcher
    • All boaters and individuals who are not strong swimmers should use a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket
    • Save your neck - don't dive into water you can't see through and also be mindful of where you're stepping.
    • If you get caught in a rip current, don't  panic; instead, swim toward the shoreline. If you can't swim, float or tread water and wave your hands to nearby beachgoers and boaters to draw attention to yourself that you may need help.

    For more information on children's health and wellness measures--including care options -- visit the UTMB Health Pediatrics page.

    Dr. Monica Thint on beach safety

    Staying safe in the sun

    Before the start of another summer day, take a moment to add some sunscreen into your routine.

    To help you choose the best sunscreen option for you and your family, Dr.Raimer-Goodman offers the following advice:

    • Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen, as these will protect from both UVA and UVB rays.
    • Avoid products with oxybenzone in it as this has been known to be a hormone disruptor
    • Mineral-based products containing zinc or titanium oxide are best for younger children.
    • For children under six months of age, limit the amount used and instead wear breathable, full coverage clothing, including hats, and stay in the shade as much as possible.
    • Reapply every hour and a half to two hours
    • If swimming or doing other water activities, try to use a water-resistant sunscreen and reapply every time you exit the water

    For more information on children's health and wellness measures --including care options -- visit the UTMB Health Pediatrics page.

    UTMB Health pediatrician Dr. Lauren Raimer-Goodman on sun protection

    View Dr Raimer-Goodman's profile

    Dr.Lauren Raimer-Goodman is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Texas Medical Association. She has a special interest in pediatric advocacy and global health.

    UTMB Health Pediatric and Adult Primary Care, Friendswood clinic

    Navigating the stress of big transitions at school

    Change is an inevitable part of life, and no one young or old is immune to it.

    School-age children (and their parents) in particular experience a significant amount of change as they navigate the educational system going from daycare to preschool to kindergarten, onto middle school, high school, potentially college and beyond until inevitably they grow up and set out on a path of their own.

    The fluctuations in routine felt along the way can be hard to process for some children and the adults guiding them, so UTMB psychologists  with  the  Department  of  Psychiatry  and  Behavioral  Sciences Dr. Barbara Calvert,  associate  professor, and Dr. Kimberly Gushanas, assistant professor, share some helpful guidelines on how to manage the emotions and stress that come with change.

    Dr. Barbara Calvert is a licensed psychologist and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

    Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences