News Room

I don’t know about you, but it seems like every time I turn around, someone is talking about how bad the ticks are this year, and with summer here we’re all outdoors more: booking campsites, dusting off your hiking boots and planting the vegetable garden. Ticks are the last thing we want to worry about while enjoying our favorite summer activities, but understanding ticks and taking preventative measures can help reduce anxiety and risk.

There are at least 16 reported types of ticks in Wisconsin, only a few of which feed on humans.  The American dog tick—commonly called the wood tick in Wisconsin—is one of the most common.

Where are the ticks present?
The American dog tick is present in many areas east of the Rocky Mountains.  Specifically, this particular tick can be found throughout the entire state of Wisconsin, particularly in wooded, shrubby or tall-grass habitats.

When should I take extra precaution?
In Wisconsin, the American dog tick is most active during the warmer months (May-August), and adult ticks are most active and abundant in June and July in temperate zones like Wisconsin. The time for ticks is NOW!

Should I be worried?
Although tick-related diseases are rarely reported in Wisconsin, the wood tick is capable of transmitting bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia (Lyme Disease).  Most reported cases are associated with Wisconsin residents who have travelled to other states where the diseases more commonly occur.  In fact, only a few human cases of Lyme Disease were reported in Wisconsin from 2001-2010.

However, the wood tick is known to cause tick paralysis, caused by a toxin in the tick’s saliva.  Symptoms begin to emerge after a female tick has attached and begun feeding for at least four to seven days.  Symptoms include acute, progressive flaccid paralysis which usually begins the arms or legs.  Respiratory failure may occur if the tick is not removed; however, paralysis usually subsides within 24 hours of removing the tick.  Although this is also rare, paralysis can occur in humans and is more common in children.

What can I do to minimize risk?
Use the following tips to make sure your family has a tick-free summer!

  1. Avoid direct contact with ticks and tick habitat. Walk in the center of mowed or cleared trails. Avoid known or suspect tick-infested areas, and take extra precaution during warmer months. Steer clear of wooded or brushy areas, and avoid brushing up against trees, vegetation and tall grass
  2. Use tick repellent. Several repellents are available for use, including DEET and permethrin. Use insect repellents that contain at least 20-50% DEET on exposed skin or 0.5% permethrin on clothing.
  3. Wear clothes that can help protect your skin. Long-sleeved pants and shirts are best.  To create an extra barrier, tuck your pants into the top of your socks or boots. Light-colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks.
  4. Check for ticks immediately. Conduct a thorough full-body check using a mirror to view all parts of the body. Have another person check your scalp or other hard-to-check areas. Parents should inspect children for ticks, paying special attention to areas such as the underarms, in and around the ears, the neck area, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and in the hair and scalp area. While bathing and showering will not necessarily wash off all ticks, it can help you more easily search and spot ticks. Examine your pets and gear.  Ticks can enter the home by attaching to your pets and even the gear you had outdoors. Wash and tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 60 minutes to kill any ticks that may have attached to your clothing.

The tick is attached!  How do I remove it?
Don’t worry…it’s as easy as 1-2-3-4!

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick near the mouth parts, as close to skin as possible.
  2. Pull tick in a steady, upward motion away from skin.
  3. Thoroughly clean the bite area and hands with soap and water, rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
  4. Note the date and location of the tick bite.  If rash or flu-like symptoms appear, make an appointment with your Fort HealthCare primary care provider or come visit me at Fort HealthCare’s newest clinic, Integrated Family Care.

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Is it time to ditch the diapers? It probably seems like just yesterday you were changing your toddler’s first diaper, and now you are wondering if it is time to start potty training.  Potty training is a big step, and it can be a difficult and frustrating process for both children and parents alike.  No child is alike, so mothers, new or experienced, may be wary about where and when to start and unsure about how to tackle the daunting task. These basic tips will get you started on the right track and help you and your little one find potty training success.

Wait until your child is ready.
There is no magic age to start potty training, however, most children are ready between 2 ½ to 3½ years old.  It is a process, so start slow, and to pique interest, place the potty chair you’ve chosen in the bathroom, make it part of your regular routine at bath time, bedtime, or even before leaving the house, and encourage good hand washing afterward.

Look for the signs.
When is it time to start potty training?  It is different for every child, so it is important to look for signs that may indicate your child is ready.  Some good indicators are:

  • You’re changing fewer diapers which may be dry after a nap, or even overnight
  • Your child’s bowel movements are predictable or regular
  • Your child understands bathroom lingo
  • Your child can perform simple undressing

Choose the right toilet-training potty.
Here is how to pick one to guarantee toilet-training success:

  • Shop for a potty in person and take your child with you
  • Perouse the store’s stock, let your child sit in any that they seem interested in, and look for one’s that fit them comfortably
  • Check for features like a removable bowl and splash guard
  • Let your child decorate the potty with markers or stickers—let them make it their own

Be patient—every child is different.
Potty training is a normal process that is different for each child.  It is important to begin when you believe your child is ready, be active and aware throughout the process, and be patient.  If you push the process too hard, you may end up back at square one.

Motivate with rewards.
For most kids, kisses, hugs, tickles, and praise is motivation enough, but some toddlers may need a little extra incentive.  Some parents swear by sticker charts, while others use other small treats for motivation, but whatever road you take, be sure to emphasize what the child accomplished rather than the reward.

Understand accidents.
A few toddlers start using the potty and never look back; however, for most, accidents are bound to happen.  At such a delicate phase of development, there are many things that can be an obstacle or cause a setback.  Chances are your toddler will be upset after an accident, so the more subdued your reaction, the better.  Offer comfort and reassurance, and help restore your child’s sense of control.  Dealing with the causes of such accidents is instrumental to putting potty training back on the road to success, so be aware of the common triggers such as stress, fatigue, parental pressure, excitement, and other major changes.

For more information about toilet training, consult with your Fort HealthCare family physician, visit, or check out this video about toilet training your toddler.

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From the moment you become a parent, activity and healthy living choices seems to come second to the needs of your children.  Even parents with a strong commitment to physical activity before parenthood may struggle to find the time and energy to stay fit.  But when it comes to abandoning activity, you are hurting more than just yourself.  Physical activity can help you stay healthy so you can keep up with your child’s needs and be around when they get older.

Even though most parents feel like they are always on the go, studies have shown that physical activity declines among the majority of new parents.   Here are some tips to stay active and healthy for you and your family.

Be active all day.
You don’t have to go to the gym to be physically active.  There are lots of little things you can do to incorporate activity into your day.  Go for a walk with your child, take them to the park, take the stairs, park further away from your destination, or do a few exercises in between your daily routines.  Make these small changes and commit to being active throughout your day—we think they will add up!

Don’t let time be an excuse.
Although your children take up a lot of the time you once had for yourself, it is not impossible to stay physically active during parenthood.  It does not take a lot of time at the gym to reap the health benefits of exercise.  Focusing on quality instead of quantity, a few short workouts every week can help you stay motivated and avoid burnout.

Find social support.
Having a friend, family member, or neighbor to who you can trust to care for your child is vital.  Few exercise facilities provide childcare services, so this dilemma becomes a problem and long-term excuse for many parents.  Establish a network of friends that you could trade off child care responsibilities with.

It is also helpful to find social support through an exercise partner that has similar goals.  By making a commitment to exercising with someone, people feel more accountable and are more likely to follow through with their workout.  Exercise partners can also provide continuous motivation and support.

Make it a family affair.
The best way to show your children the value of fitness is to be physically active with them.  Take infants or toddlers for walks in their stroller or fit in quick exercises during their nap.  Take your older children to the park or enjoy the opportunities that your community provides.  Take advantage of each season—ride bikes in the spring, swim in the summer, take a scenic hike in the fall, and go sledding or ice-skating in the winter.  Doing these physical activities will feel more like fun than exercise and can instill great habits in your children at a young age.

Set goals for yourself.
Motivation comes from within, so the first step to physical fitness is to have a reason to want it.  It is important to set short-term goals that are measurable and attainable.  Start with small, manageable goals and go from there.  Continue to monitor your progress and set new goals accordingly.  Don’t get discouraged if you don’t meet your exercise goal for a week.  There is no reason to completely drop out; reevaluate and work hard next week!

Be a role model.
You serve as a huge role model in your child’s life, and your actions have a huge impact on the habits that they will form.  Your children will likely mimic your behaviors, including physical activity practices; therefore, when teaching discipline, it is important for you as a parent to have some as well.

Fort HealthCare supports a parent’s decision to be physically fit with fitness classes, events, and challenges to help jumpstart and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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yummy, yummy for tiny tummiesOnce your baby moves beyond those first weeks of round-the-clock feedings, making sure your baby has the proper nutrition can get a bit more complicated. Breast milk or formula was all baby needed for the first six months of life. Over the next year to 18 months, though, expect a bit more adventure on the feeding front. Introducing solids, trying out table foods and weaning can leave many parents unsure about their little one’s nutrition. Starting good habits early helps set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Table talk
Healthy eating from the start Try some of these tips when starting solids:

  • Offer one new food at a time. Use single ingredient foods and wait a few days to watch for signs of allergy (rash, diarrhea, increased gas or fussiness) before
    trying another.
  • Start with rice cereal first and go through the grains available in your area. Veggies should be next, followed by fruits and then meats.
  • Limit juice, offer water if any other beverages are needed, such as during hot weather.
  • Use a rubber-tipped sppon to start. Don’t put cereal or food in your baby’s bottle. This can cause babies  to eat too fast, leading to overeating, and doesn’t teach them to eat solids.
  • Pay attention to cues that baby is full. Your baby may turn away from the spoon,
    lean backward or refuse to open his or her mouth. Resist trying to force
    another bite.
  • Keep trying new tastes and textures. At about 8 months, your baby’s probably ready for chunkier and coarser foods that require more chewing, such as mashed potatoes, yogurt, some dry cereals, light crackers, cottage cheese, shredded cheese, small pieces of chicken, ripe banana, well-cooked pasta and well-cooked or canned fruits and vegetables. You may also choose to fork-mash, cut up or grind whatever food the rest of the family is eating.
  • Always monitor for changes in behavior, skin and bowel patterns with dietary changes.

Making mealtimes work
During your child’s second year, his or her eating habits will evolve to be more like your own. Draw the high chair up to the table so he or she can join the rest of the family and try some of these strategies:

  • Establish a routine. Offer three meals and two to three snacks a day on a regular
    schedule so that your child learns to expect food at certain times.
  • Accept a missed meal. Toddlers may skip meals from time to time simply because they’re not hungry. Resist the temptation to keep offering something else. Don’t push food on a child who isn’t hungry.
  • Allow some control. Don’t make mealtimes a power struggle. You decide what healthy foods to offer, and your child decides which to eat, how much to eat and whether to eat at all.
  • Start the sippy cup. Offer whole milk (after age 1), breast milk, formula, water or
    juice in a trainer cup with a lid and spout. It may take several weeks before
    the cup becomes more than a new toy, but using a cup helps improve hand-to-mouth coordination and can pave the way for weaning.
  • Use whole milk. Continue to breastfeed if you wish, but if you use cow’s milk after
    age 1, opt for whole milk instead of lower-fat versions until age 2.
  • Be persistent with new foods. Children often need at least 10 exposures to a new
    food before they’ll accept it. So keep offering broccoli, peas or any other foods about which they may seem hesitant.
  • Limit sweets and empty calories. Little tummies can only hold so much, so serve foods packed with the nutrients they need.

Remember to set a good example. Your baby will develop and model many food preferences and habits after your own.

What’s off limits?
Remember to keep solid food items pea-sized or smaller and that not every food is suitable for young children. Avoid feeding:

  • Cow’s milk, eggs, citrus or honey before age 1
  • Peanuts, peanut butter, fish or shellfish before age 3
  • Choking hazards like whole grapes, hot dogs, hard candy, raisins, popcorn, raw carrots, nuts or large pieces of meat before age 3

If you have questions about what to feed your toddler, bring it up to your provider at your next Well Child visit. Proper nutrition is CRITICAL in these early years and can set your child up for a lifetime of good choices.

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