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calming a crying babyBabies cry.

It’s how they know to communicate with the world around them. But when a baby won’t stop crying, it can be frustrating. The stress of caring for a baby, especially if your baby has been sick, puts a strain on parents and caregivers. But shaking a baby, even slightly, is very dangerous and can cause a life-threatening condition called shaken-baby syndrome. This condition can lead to major brain damage and death.

 Why it’s a problem

When a baby is shaken, the brain moves back and forth inside the skull. Even a little force could cause the brain to hit the inside of the skull, which can result in bleeding and swelling inside the skull. It can lead to permanent brain damage, coma or death.

If you feel yourself reaching your breaking point, here’s how to cope:

  • Put the baby down in a safe place, even if he or she is crying.
  • Take a deep breath. Walk away. Count to 10. Do whatever you need to do to calm down.
  • Let others help you take care of the baby. Trade off with your partner, the baby’s grandparents or other family members.
  • Talk to your baby’s doctor about what’s causing the crying. There could be a health problem or other issue that’s making the baby cry more than normal. The doctor can also give you ideas for how to console your baby.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to your baby’s doctor about childcare options, counseling or other resources that can help.
  • Call the Child help USA hotline at (800) 422-4453. The trained operator can help you deal with your frustration.
  • Talk to your doctor or one of our lactation consultants. You may be experiencing postpartum depression, a very serious—but treatable—condition.
  • Take the “Happiest Baby on the Block” class along with anyone who regularly cares for your baby. You will learn step-by step how to help their babies sleep better and soothe even the fussiest baby in minutes.

In alignment with our mission and vision to improve the health and well-being of its communities, and be the healthiest community in Wisconsin, Fort HealthCare developed the “Circle of Success: Shaken-Baby Education Program” to improve health outcomes for newborns. With support from grants, our program strives to improve health outcomes for newborns and families in the region, with an ultimate goal of helping other rural hospitals implement a similar program in their respective service areas.

A major focus for the Circle of Success is the “Having Healthy Babies” class. This affordable ($5) class offers a safe place and access to obstetrics RNs so parents-to-be and support people can learn and discuss topics like nutrition and exercise, caregiver selection, safe pregnancy medications, CPR, breastfeeding, shaken baby syndrome, safe sleeping
arrangements for your newborn.

If you or someone you know is expecting a child, especially this is a first child or it’s been a while since the last baby, please encourage them to participate in one of our MANY childbirth and newborn classes. It is so important.

For more information on how Fort HealthCare is improving the health and well-being of our tiniest residents, visit us at

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School and sniffles: What's a parent to do?The leaves are falling and the crisp, fall breezes are upon us. While this time of year brings us relief from a hot summer, it also signals the return of “sniffle season.” Keeping kids well calls for more than good luck, and you can take steps to bolster your child’s resistance. Are you prepared?

Has your child had a physical? An annual well-child exam gives your pediatrician the chance to thoroughly assess your child’s health and development. The doctor will review your child’s medical history, perform a complete physical exam, take weight and height measurements and check blood pressure. Other tests may include a scoliosis screening, blood and urine tests and vision and hearing screenings. If the doctor prescribes treatment changes, be sure to inform the school nurse and give her a supply of your child’s medication. If your child plays sports, don’t forget to bring any appropriate forms for the doctor to sign.

Are you up to date on shots? Children need as many as 27 shots by the time they reach 18 months of age—are you sure your child received them all? Ask the doctor to check your
child’s immunization record
and administer any missing doses.

Has your child seen the dentist? Even if your child seems healthy, tooth decay is a bacterial disease that can affect overall  health and lead to problems eating, speaking and paying attention in class. American children miss 750,000 school days each year because of dental problems. Children should see a dentist twice a year starting at age 1 or within six months of the first tooth’s appearance.

Does your child eat breakfast? Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast do better academically and socially and  are less likely to overeat later. Good choices include high-fiber cereals with milk; pancakes or waffles topped with yogurt or fruit; and eggs and whole-grain toast.

Have you taught your child well? The more you enforce good hygiene habits at
home, the more likely your child will continue the practice. Insist on hand washing before every meal and snack and after visiting the bathroom or touching the class pet. Teach your child to lather for 15 to 20 seconds—or for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Show how to cover a cough or a sneeze with a tissue, the crook of an elbow or, as a last resort, the hands and then wash up. Remind your child not to share hats, combs, brushes or makeup.

Does your child get enough sleep? Sleep is as important to health as are nutrition and exercise. School-age children generally need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night, with younger ones needing the most.

If it’s been a while since you’ve come in for a well-child exam or you are seeing symptoms of something brewing, make an appointment today. The Fort HealthCare Integrated Family Care clinic is open in its temporary location (426 McMillen St., Fort Atkinson) and our providers are excited to treat your entire family with a comprehensive wellness approach.

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Becoming a runner; improvement tips for beginnersThinking about entering that charity fun run this year but worried about the distance? You can do it, and fall is a great time to start training! Cooler temps and beautiful views make getting out there even more appealing.

The classic 5-kilometer (5k) distance, about 3.1 miles, may seem challenging. But it’s attainable even for beginners, and reaching the finish line may motivate you to make running a regular part of your fitness regimen. Running doesn’t require much time, expensive gear or a health club membership. Simply step outside and explore your own neighborhood or head to a local park or track.

If you’re a beginner, allow about eight to 10 weeks to work up to running three miles without stopping. Follow these tips to help you make your way to the starting gate:

Buy quality running shoes. You’ll need shoes with good support, not tennis shoes or sneakers made for fashion. You should be able to wiggle all your toes freely, and the shoes should feel well cushioned and comfortable right from the start.

Walk this way … then run. For the first week, walk for 20 minutes on at least four days. During week two, increase your   walks to 30 minutes. The next week, try jogging for two minutes and then walking for four minutes. Repeat this jog/walk combination five times to total 30 consecutive minutes. Expect to feel some soreness these first weeks as you use and strengthen different muscles, but don’t push through actual pain.

Increase your running time.Each week, add one minute to your running time and subtract one minute from your walking time, still totaling 30 minutes. Don’t worry about your pace or intensity. Let comfort be your guide when increasing your running time and number of days a week you run, but don’t increase your mileage more than 10 percent each week. Soon, you’ll reach the goal of running comfortably for 30 minutes, the approximate time it will take you to complete a 5k distance. Now you’re ready for race day!

Whatever your reasons for entering—to improve your fitness, gain a sense of accomplishment or to support a charity—you’ll find them all at the finish line. The community spirit and festive atmosphere surrounding these events are thrilling—and addictive. In addition to your souvenir T-shirt, chances are you’ll pick up an entry or two for future runs.

If you want a little help improving your running, or other sports performance, consider taking the EDGE Program coached by Fort HealthCare athletic trainers. Our Licensed Athletic Trainers will evaluate your current skills, provide direction for improvement, measure athletic growth, and facilitate education on what it takes to be the ultimate athlete. Included in all EDGE classes: T-Shirt, Personalized Home Exercise Program, and Injury Prevention Tips.


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