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How to prepare your child for surgery

Surgery can be a stress and anxiety producing event for anyone, let alone a child. At Swedish, Child Life Specialists help children and families cope with the surgery process. Child Life Specialists are available to help educate and prepare children and families prior to surgery in our outpatient surgery center.

There are some things you can do as a parent to help better prepare yourself and your child for surgery before coming to the hospital:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider to educate yourself about the surgery process and what to expect.
  • Talk to your child in advance about their surgery in an honest, matter-of-fact manner. Younger children need to start hearing about their upcoming surgery 2-3 days prior to their visit. School age and teenage children can handle talking about their surgery a few weeks in advance. Using books and similar resources can be helpful in talking to your child about their surgery.
  • Offer children some control wherever possible. Have your child ....

Croup: coughs that go bark in the night

Croup is a common childhood illness that can be very frightening to a parent or child. It often starts with the symptoms of a mild cold, such as a runny nose, or sore throat. The child goes to bed as usual and then wakes suddenly in the middle of the night with a barking cough. Often they gasp in between the coughs and make a high-pitched noise called stridor when they breathe in.

Thankfully, croup is rarely dangerous. Most children can be treated at home. But it can be a scary illness for both the parent and the child.

It is important to know how to treat croup at home and when to seek help from your doctor or the emergency room....

Caring for your child's cast

Kids of all generations from all walks of life have one thing in common and that is the love of play and imagination. Play structures, a couch turned to a fort, or their sworn innate ability to fly can take a sour turn. As much as we would like to wrap our little Spider Mans, Incredible Hulks and Wonder Women in bubble wrap, unfortunately life’s little incidences are inevitable.

If ever the time comes where your Super Hero suffers from an injury and needs a cast, it is time to put on your Super Parent costume.

Here are some helpful tips on cast care for the Super Parent:

  • Bathing: Absolutely no showers. We ask parents to give kids a bath instead, keeping the casted limb outside of the tub. In addition, we suggest wrapping the cast with a towel and covering with a newspaper bag or bread bag and closing it off with a rubber band at the top for added protection.
  • Itching: The golden rule of having a cast is DO NOT STICK ANYTHING IN THE CAST! Scratching an itch with an object can cause the skin to break underneath the cast, leaving room for infection. If your child has itching, tapping on the outside of the cast or using a hair dryer set on cool can help.
  • If a cast...

Mother Nature’s Role in Healing Our Children

I am a pediatric hospitalist. That is, I am a pediatrician who takes care of children sick enough to be hospitalized. So my writing about the importance of children spending time outdoors and enjoying nature might be surprising. Even though I may only take care of a child for the worst few days of their life, I am still quite passionate about the fundamental role of outdoor play in a child’s health and well-being.

Even during acute illness, I find that children often heal faster when they are given more opportunities to be playful and (illness-allowing) go outdoors to allow Mother Nature to heal them from within. So needless to say, I am often amazed at how little exposure many of these children have had, even prior to becoming ill, to spend time playing outdoors and getting to know their environment.

Now especially, as the days begin to get longer, and the refreshing spring air returns to our beautiful Pacific Northwest, I start thinking about all the wonderful outdoor fun I used to have as a child, and the importance such activities had on my own health and overall sense of well-being.

I worry that children of today encounter ....

Helping your child cope with medical experiences

The hospital or any medical experience can be a stressful and frightening place for anyone, especially a child. They may encounter new faces, scary equipment and overwhelming feelings of loss of control.

Did you know that there are professionals who aim to reduce negative effects of medical experiences that may affect the development, health and well-being of children and families? These professionals are called certified Child Life specialists and are available at most hospitals who serve children to help you and your child cope with these experiences.

Swedish has four full-time Child Life specialists who cover First Hill and Issaquah campuses from surgery to radiology to inpatient stays. At Swedish, our Child Life team strives to reach every pediatric patient who walks through our doors in an attempt to make their stay a little easier.

Here are some tips for parents on how to help your child cope with medical encounters:

Increasing Your Child’s Comfort with Nitrous Oxide

You may be familiar with “laughing gas” as something you find at the dentist’s office but did you know it can also be used when your child is a patient at Swedish? Laughing gas is a mix of nitrous oxide and oxygen, but you might hear your pediatric nurses just call it “nitrous.” In pediatrics, we use it to help a patient relax and feel more comfortable during certain procedures such as IV placement or urinary catheterization.

Once your doctor or nurse has determined that your child is a good candidate for nitrous (without any contraindications such as conditions where air may be trapped in the body, pregnancy, or impaired level of consciousness), your nurses and certified child life specialist (CCLS) will explain the process: Your child will choose a flavor for the inside of their mask used to administer the gas. They will be on a stretcher or bed and have a saturation probe attached to a finger to monitor their oxygenation. One nurse will administer oxygen, then the nitrous, gradually increasing the amount until your child is suitably relaxed for the procedure, while remaining responsive to directions. Another clinician will perform the procedure, e.g., place the IV. A doctor is also available.

As a parent ...

Picky Eaters - Tips for Establishing Healthy Eating Habits

Picky eaters. We all know at least one, have a child that’s proud to be one, or heck, might have a history of being one (gulp). Every child is unique, hence the approach to picky eating needs to be highly individualized, but here I will outline some general tips on how to establish healthy habits for picky eaters!

The Basic Rules...

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