Back To School

Backpack with school supplies

With a new school year coming up fast we asked our health care experts for tips on getting your kids back to the books safe and sound.

Tuck in fruit, not juice

When packing lunches, remember that even a healthy drink like orange juice can pack on pounds.  “One cup (250 ml) per day of unsweetened orange or apple juice adds up to 11 pounds of weight per year,” says Elizabeth Duke Gibbs, a dietitian in the Diabetes Education and Management Centre.  “A single cup of regular pop per day adds up to 10 pounds of weight per year.  Kids who drink two to four cups of pop per day could pack on an extra 20-45 pounds in a year. If your child loves juice, a good guideline is to have only 1/2 cup of real juice per day, along with 3 cups of white milk and lots of water. It’s really better to eat fruit rather than drink it.” 

Take a load off their backs

Keep that new backpack from turning into a portable locker.  If a child is carrying more than 10 per cent of her body weight in a backpack, then she’s carrying too much, says Dr. Joan Stevenson, a professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University and a researcher in the Human Mobility Research Centre at Kingston General Hospital.  “Heavy backpacks can have a bad effect on children’s posture and gait, and set them up for neck and back pain,” she says, noting that a kid who leans forward while wearing a backpack needs that pack adjusted.  “Be sure the pack has well-padded shoulder straps.  The real trick is to get your child to carry less—to leave the sneakers and extra books at school.” 

Kids get stressed, too!

It’s that time of year when we’re all caught up in the flurry of back-to-school activities, new schedules and a calendar full of commitments.  Remember that your kids—whether 6 or 16 years old—get stressed, too.  It’s important to acknowledge their feelings and to listen to their concerns, says Nicholas Axas, Social Worker in the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Urgent Consult Clinic at Hotel Dieu. You can help them by establishing clear expectations and avoiding over-scheduling.  Providing them with some control and independence (like arranging their bedroom or negotiating the best curfew time) is also important.  As well, encourage some stress-busting strategies such as talking with someone, drawing or colouring, or keeping a journal.  And try hard to be a good example to your kids by staying calm yourself in stressful situations.

If you need us: Urgent pediatric care close at hand

If your child or teen (up to age 18) needs urgent medical care that cannot wait for a visit to the family doctor—such as a serious cut, sprain or fever—then remember that our Pediatric Urgent Care (walk-in) Clinic is open 9 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday and provides access to highly-skilled pediatricians and pediatric nurses.  Our Urgent Care Centre is open 8 am to 8 pm every day of the year for non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries.

Fuel up your kids with a healthy breakfast

Breakfast is the fuel that starts a kid’s day, says HDH pediatrician Dr. Amy Acker, so get your child up in time for a healthy breakfast that includes at least 2 food groups—try cereal with milk and banana, a half bagel with cream cheese and berries or yogurt and granola.  Serve all with a small glass of 100% juice, water or milk.  Fruit smoothies can work for kids who don’t like to eat in the morning.  Lunch bags should include food from at least three food groups, and at least one daytime snack should be fruits and veggies.  You can freeze yogurt tubes as a dairy snack—they’re refreshing and fun to eat—and if you bake and freeze muffins with kids on the weekend you can pop them into lunchboxes as needed through the week.  Got a picky eater?  Remember that phases of picky eating are common.  Children may take 10-20 exposures to a new food to accept and be willing to try.  Be patient and keep offering healthy choices!

Urgent Care Centre and Emergency Department are just around the corner

If you are having chest pain or pressure, call 911 immediately.

For non-life threatening illnesses & injuries such as:

  • Deep cuts/wounds needing stitches
  • Sprains, strains, or deep bruises
  • Mild to moderate asthma attacks
  • Ear/urinary tract/respiratory infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Insect bites/rashes

Please go to: Urgent Care Centre (UCC) at Hotel Dieu Hospital 166 Brock Street Open 365 days/ year 8 am to 8 pm (entrance to UCC between Bagot and Montreal Streets)

For serious illnesses & injuries such as:

  • Severe bleeding
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Trauma or injury to the head
  • Sudden dizziness/difficulty seeing
  • Severe abdominal pain

Please go to: Emergency Department at Kingston General Hospital 76 Stuart Street. Open 24 hours a day every day. (entrance to Emergency Dept. is off King Street West)

If you are the victim of sexual assault or family violence, go to either the Emergency Dept. or Urgent Care Centre and ask for the SA/FV nurse on call. This confidential service provides testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy and HIV.