Stories about: holidays

Sneezin’s’ greetings: How to avoid holiday allergy triggers

By Andrew MacGinnitie, MD, PhD, associate clinical director of the Division of Immunology at Children’s Hospital Boston

The holidays are a lot of fun for children and adults alike, but for those with allergies and asthma the season can be a little difficult at times. Homemade treats, seasonal decorations and visiting friends and family can all be potential allergy and/or asthma triggers. Here are a few easy ways to avoid some of the more common offenders this winter.

Holiday food

Holiday celebrations are often filled with new and different foods. From plates of cookies to potlucks where everyone brings their favorite dish, this time of year presents plenty of opportunities for people with food allergies to be exposed to foods that could cause reactions. Peanuts and tree nuts in baked goods are the most obvious risks, but these same treats may also contain eggs or milk―common triggers for people with food allergies, especially younger children.

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Holiday toy hazards

By Lois Lee, MD, MPH, an emergency medicine physician at Children’s Hospital Boston.

Now that the turkey and pumpkin pie are long gone, children have turned their holiday attention to what they think matters most—toys. But as you glance over those ever- growing wish lists, how can you be sure which toys are safest for your family? Fortunately for the safety conscious gift-giver in all of us, the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG) recently released Trouble in Toyland, their annual report on toy safety. This is the non-profit consumer organization’s 26th report, which for years has provided safety guidelines for consumers, as well as highlight toys currently on store shelves that could be potentially dangerous. It’s a great guide for parents, but by no means a rulebook; when shopping for your family, keep in mind that a little common sense goes a long way.

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How to talk to kids about holiday gifts and lost loved ones

Christmas Day DreamingThe holidays are supposed to be a time full of joy. Unfortunately, they can also bring with them stress, sadness and unrealistic expectations. Kids are affected by this just as much as adults. We talked to Children’s psychiatrist Stuart Goldman, MD, about how to help your kids cope with the holiday blues and make this a memorable holiday for the whole family.

The holidays can be especially tough for children who have lost a family member. What are your suggestions for helping a child cope with the loss of a loved one during these times?

The holidays bring back memories of things missed and that might have been. Parents need to give children permission to be sad and reminisce over the loss of a loved one. It’s okay to look through photo albums and have a remembrance at church or over dinner. It’s important for kids to remember the past and not have it shut off. Tell children that it’s okay to miss that loved one, but that you can still have a good holiday. Have them write a letter to Grandma who’s in heaven and start a new holiday tradition that will help make this year’s celebrations memorable.

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Put downtime on your family's to-do list this holiday season

McCarthyClaire_dsc0463It’s nearly school vacation time—and you’re probably making plans (or will, once your shopping is finished) for things that will keep the kids busy during their time off. Museums, concerts, playdates—whatever fills the days in a useful, educational way. Because you can’t leave the days blank, right?

Actually, you can. And sometimes leaving them blank is exactly what children (and families) need.

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