Sunglasses and Eye HealthYou want your child to be safe and sound as you travel with him in your vehicle each day. What you may not know is that every year thousands of children are injured or killed in car crashes. Many of these deaths and injuries could have been avoided if children were properly secured in their car safety seats or seat belts. You can make a difference for your child by using their car seats or seat belts properly every time they ride in your car.

How to Choose and Use

Choose a car seat based on your child’s age, weight and size. Try it out in the store before you take it home. Place your child in the seat and adjust the straps and buckles to make sure it works for your child. Fit it properly and securely in your car. Ensure the seat is buckled tightly into your vehicle and your child is buckled snugly into the seat. For the best protection for your child, keep him in the seat until he has reached the manufacturer’s height or weight limit.

Rear-Facing Seats – All infants and toddlers should ride rear-facing until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their car safety seat. If your baby reaches the height and weight limit for his infant-only seat, he should continue to ride rear-facing in a convertible car seat for as long as possible. Check your car safety seat instructions to find the weight and height limits for rear-facing seats. Some types allow up to the weight of at least 35 pounds.

Forward-Facing Seats – Children who are 2 years or older, or who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their car safety seat should ride in a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their seat. Check your car safety seat instructions to find the weight and height limits for forward-facing seats. Some types allow up to a weight of 65-80 pounds.

Booster Seats – Children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a belt positioning booster seat until he is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. Booster seats are designed to raise your child so that the lap and shoulder seat belts fit properly. The lap belt should lie low across a child’s upper thighs and the shoulder belt should cross the middle of a child’s chest and shoulder.

Seat Belts Usually between ages 8 and 12, or when they are 4’9” tall, children should use a seat belt in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection. The seat belt should fit properly with the lap belt lying across the child’s upper thighs and the shoulder belt across the chest. Seat belts are designed for adults. If it does not fit your child correctly, she should stay in a booster seat until the seat belt fits her properly. Also, be sure your child does not tuck the shoulder belt behind her back or under her arm.

Tips to remember

There are many types of seats that can be used. Be sure that the car safety seat you choose works within current child passenger safety guidelines. When making changes, always follow the car seat instructions. Follow the instructions in your car owner’s manual to properly install your child’s car seat. Always wear your own seat belt as a good role model. Never allow anyone to share car seats or seat belts. The safest place for children under the age of 13 is in the back seat.

All of the above information was gathered from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Website at and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Website at If you want more information, such as on safely securing children with special needs, premature infants, using used car seats or airplane safety tips, go to these sites. If you need help installing your child’s car seat, contact a certified Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technician. To locate a car seat inspection station and set up an appointment, call toll-free 866/SEATCHECK (866/732-8243) or visit

Need more child safety tips? Contact Premier Academy Today!

Easy, Fun Recipes for Young ChildrenWe’ve bumped up the mealtime chatter in your home. We’ve ensured your little one can help safely in the kitchen – and learn a bunch in the process, too. Now, it’s time to cook! Here are two fool-proof recipes that young children love to make – and eat. From my family to yours – enjoy!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Power Balls

This is a very forgiving recipe – experiment with amounts and ingredients, and let your child call the shots. Start with your peanut butter and honey “base mixture”, add in your cereal of choice, and roll in any (or all!) of the options below. All the pouring, mixing, and messy rolling are wonderful fun. Then you get instant deliciousness, since no baking is required!

STEP ONE – Blend Together Base Ingredients

  • 1 C peanut butter, creamy or crunchy (for peanut allergies, try almond butter or sunflower seed butter instead);
  • 1/2 C honey

If the peanut butter and honey are cold, heat them in the microwave for 20 seconds to more easily blend.

STEP TWO – Optional Protein Power

Thoroughly mix in 1 C dried milk powder, if desired

STEP THREE – Pick Your Cereal

Add one of the following (or mix more than one, for a total of one cup)

  • I C oatmeal, uncooked, rolled or quick, or
  • I C Corn Flakes, or
  • 1 C Crispy Rice cereal, or
  • 1 C granola

Stir well into Base Mixture.

STEP FOUR – Roll and Coat

Roll about a tablespoon of the mixture into golfball-sized rounds. Wet your hands first if the mixture is very sticky. Then, roll the balls in any (or all!) of these yummy coatings:

Dried Toppings

  • Wheat germ (surprisingly delicious in this recipe)
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Flaked coconut
  • Chopped Craisins
  • Chopped dried cherries
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • Cocoa powder
  • Chopped nuts

Store in the fridge, or freeze in a zip-top bag. They defrost nicely in lunch boxes, too!

Yummy Yogurt Parfait

Here are two versions of this simple, yummy, healthy treat.


Place about a half cup of vanilla or maple yogurt into parfait cups. Select, rinse, and slice seasonal fruit, including:

  • bananas, sliced into “coins”
  • pears, peeled and cut as desired
  • grapes (cut into quarters for younger children and toddlers)
  • strawberries (leave on the green “handles” for the Yogurt Dippers version below)

Place each type of fruit into a small serving bowl. Allow kiddos to select their fruits of choice to place on top of first yogurt layer. Add a second layer of yogurt over fruit. Offer toppings for the second layer, including ANY of the dried toppings options from step FOUR in the recipe above. Eat immediately.


Some children don’t like their food to “touch” or be “mixed” with other foods. If this describes your kiddo, try it this way instead:

Place about a half cup of yogurt into a small bowl. Have your child select fruit chunks and dip into the yogurt before eating. Offer dried toppings as a “second step” dip.

Looking for more fun things to do with your children? Contact Premier Academy today!

Got Breakfast? 4 Tips for Busy FamiliesEat your breakfast!

We’ve heard it over and over – breakfast is important. Brains need fuel to work properly. If your little one is like mine, though, breakfast is the last thing on her mind in the morning. She might ask for juice, but she’d rather wait until snack time at school to eat. When you add that to the morning madness of getting everyone dressed and out the door, sometimes it’s just easier to skip breakfast altogether.

But a hungry brain is a crabby brain, and a crabby brain doesn’t learn (or behave) very well. So we made a decision to emphasize Family Breakfast Time – even on school days. Here’s how we ensure the kids get out the door with a healthy breakfast:

  • Schedule Sleep Success. Sleepy kids don’t want to eat. Some kiddos need more time than others to wake up and get going, too. To make sure you’re ALL getting enough shut-eye, dedicate yourself to an earlier bedtime. Push bedtime back by 5 minutes each night until everyone’s getting enough sleep, then awaken everyone early enough so there’s ample time to eat. That way, little bodies have enough time to wake up and start to feel hungry.
  • Forget Fancy Foods. Prep foods that are quick and healthy – nothing fancy required. A banana and a cup of oatmeal with raisins, cinnamon, and milk works great. Or serve peanut butter on whole wheat toast, plus what we call “kids’ tea” (warm, decaf tea with a bit of honey). Aim for protein, whole grains, and minimal sugar – and keep it simple.
  • Nix the Rush. The main reason families skip breakfast is because we’re in such a rush. Simplify your morning routine by doing an evening prep time the night before. That creates time for your Family Breakfast. You’ll ALL start out the day better.
  • Sit and Share. Model the importance of breakfast by sitting down together every morning and connecting with each other before going off in your separate directions. At our breakfast table, we talk about the dreams we had overnight, and discuss our plans and goals for the day.

The breakfast ritual is a wonderful way of connecting with each other before the bustle of the day gets going  – AND for sending your child to school with a brain that’s primed to learn!

Need more tips? Contact Premier Academy Today!

Walking – The Perfect ExerciseNo time to exercise? Think again! As our kids head back to school, we’re squeezing more than ever into our hectic schedules. But you can work in plenty of physical activity for the whole family — simply by walking more. No other form of exercise is as easy, convenient and inexpensive. All you need is a pair of shoes and the will to get up and move.

The Many Benefits of Walking

Walking has the lowest dropout rate and the lowest injury rate of any exercise. It can help control weight, build healthy muscles, bones, joints and improve your mood. And just walking 30-60 minutes a day will improve anyone’s overall health.

A healthy exercise regimen and a well-balanced diet are fundamental for a long healthy life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over the past 30 years, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the U.S. Children who are overweight or obese are at risk for developing hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterol levels and other illnesses.

How to Make Walking Fun

Children today are not as active as we were growing up. We were allowed more freedom and ran around for much of the day. Today we need to get our children away from the computer and TV screens and do something with them if we want to help keep them fit. A fun and easy way is to take them walking.

Children will look forward to walking if you make it fun. Playing games as you walk will encourage children to walk greater distances. Play “I Spy.” Have a walking scavenger hunt. Bring along a small bucket to collect “treasures” that children find along the way. Spice up a walk by playing “Follow the Leader” or with “interval training,” depending on your kids’ ages. Try different moves like giant steps, hopping, skipping, walking backwards – mix it up!

Keep Walking Safe

As with any form of exercise, it is important to keep a few safety factors in mind:

  1. Always stretch before you start walking.
  2. Walk on sidewalks or on a track.
  3. Walk with friends or family.
  4. Drink water before and after you walk. If you will be walking long distances, bring a water bottle along on your walk.
  5. Don’t overdo it. Start slowly and gradually increase your distance and speed over time.

Make a regular routine of healthy family dinners, followed by family walks to keep everyone healthy. (And don’t forget the dog!) This combination can help children develop healthy lifestyle habits early that will last a lifetime.

Contact Premier Academy Today!


How to Find the Right Bike for Your ChildThere are many reasons kids should play outside, from expressing creativity to running freely to making messes without worrying about dirtying the house. In addition to these fun reasons, there are also many health benefits that make outdoor play great for children.

  1. Improves Vision
    Children who spend time outside have better distance vision than those who primarily play indoors.
  2. Promotes Social Skills
    Getting kids outside and having unstructured play promotes a wide range of skills. On a playground not everyone gets to go down the slide first. Going to a playground with your kids is not just about running around and being active, but it’s also about learning social skills, executive functions and behavioral skills as well through play.
  3. Increases Attention Span
    All children have a different attention span. Green outdoor settings appear to reduce ADHD symptoms in children. Exposure to natural settings through after-school and weekend activities may be widely effective in reducing attention deficit symptoms in children.
  4. Reduces Stress
    When it comes to stress, spending time outside playing is such a huge outlet for stress. It’s relaxing; it is healing. There is even research showing that seeing green spaces can help decrease kids’ stress levels.
  5. Provides Vitamin D 
    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, lots of kids are suffering from vitamin D deficiencies. This vitamin has several health benefits, including preventing kids from future bone problems, diabetes and even heart disease.Vitamin D can be received by supplement, but you can also get it through its free and natural version: sunlight. Have your kids play outside for a few minutes without sun screen (which blocks cancer-causing rays, but also vitamin D). Then slather on the lotion. Of course, if your child burns easily, use the sunscreen and increase the vitamin D-heavy foods and supplements.

We want to hear from you. Set up an appointment today and see how much your children will love Premier Academy!

Premier Academy Child Enrichment Center offers childcare in Omaha, Nebraska for infantstoddlers, preschool, and pre-k children.

How to Deal with Picky EatersWe’ve all been there. And many of us still are. No matter how many times we swore (to ourselves and everyone around us) that our kids will be different, that our kids will eat everything, the inevitable happened. We raised picky eaters. Gone are the fantasies of eating family meals of chicken salad and thai curry. Now we get excited if they eat a bite of broccoli alongside a cheesy bowl of macaroni. Chicken nuggets are their own food group, along with buttered pasta and fish.

  1. Follow the French
    The French believe it is as important to teach your child to eat as it is to teach them to read. French mothers introduce an incredibly diverse range of food to their infants and French children learn to eat a broad range of healthy foods before the inevitable ‘picky eater’ phase.
  2. Get Creative
    Let them sprinkle something on top like sesame seeds or even change how they’re eating by offering chopsticks.
  3. Stick with Small Portions
    Children have small stomachs, and may feel overwhelmed by large portions on a plate. Keep portions small, especially when it comes to introducing new foods. If they like it, they’ll ask for more, which also gives children a feeling of control.
  4. Eat with Others
    A little positive peer pressure goes a long way. At home and at childcare, children encourage each other to taste new things. The more kids see others eating a variety of foods the more apt they are to trying them.
  5. Grow Your Own 
    Want kids to eat veggies? Start an edible garden. Green beans straight off the vine in the morning on the way to school. Kids  feel so empowered knowing they’re helping to grow food and it’s gratifying when they get to eat it.
  6. Meet the Beet
    When a child says ‘I don’t like that food’, they often mean ‘I don’t know it’. To take the mystery out of a new food, let your child get to know it a little better. Show your child a raw beet and then let them touch it and smell it. Cut it open, and let them look at the intense color.
  7. Forgo the Kids’ Menu
    Next time you’re out to eat, resist the temptation to order off the kids’ menu, which are generally an abyss of reheated frozen foods. Ask if you could order a regular item as a half portion for kids. Many restaurants are happy to do this.
  8. Keep Snacks to a Minimum and Keep them Nutritious
    If your child is munching all day long, it’s no wonder they aren’t hungry come mealtime. Plus, they always know something crunchier, sweeter and more exciting is just a few hours away. To bring your child back to the table, limit snacks to one or two times a day. Offer kids raw veggies, fruit, rice cakes, cheese or nuts to give them energy after school or before dinner.
  9. Resist the Bribery Temptation
    Sure, it will get you through the meal, but bribing your kids to eat x in order to get y will only cause problems down the road. Food is not a bribe, a reward, a punishment, a distraction, or a substitute for discipline.
  10. Relax
    Perhaps the hardest tip of them all, the best thing you can do when dealing with a picky eater is to relax and be calm. The goal is not to control what children eat, but to teach them how to eat well.

We want to hear from you. Set up an appointment today and see how much your children will love Premier Academy!

Premier Academy Child Enrichment Center offers childcare in Omaha, Nebraska for infantstoddlers, preschool, and pre-k children.

Teaching Your Child Healthy Eating HabitsWith the winter months coming upon us, we find that our children are at risk for infections and colds. Taking care of a sick toddler isn’t fun. But taking care of two sick children is worse. It means more misery and sleepless nights — and for you, more missed days of work.

Kids do pass infections to each other easily in a group setting such as daycare, particularly during the winter months. You can’t prevent it entirely, unless you switch to a nanny or decide to stay home yourself. But there are steps you can take to minimize the chances your baby will be ill at daycare.

Step up your disinfecting:

Even if you’re not germ-obsessed usually, now might be a time to focus more on disinfecting surfaces in your home. It can help prevent germs from spreading from child to child in a daycare setting.

Practice good diaper hygiene:

Be especially careful with dirty diapers now — particularly if you have more than one kid wearing them. The changing table could be a spot where your kids exchange germs. So you could decide to use the changing table only for your sick toddler and change your healthy kid somewhere else. Or you could always lay a fresh blanket over the changing pad when putting a diaper on your healthy child.

Don’t allow sharing at meals:

Mealtimes may usually be chaotic, with your kids regularly swapping silverware, cups, and food. For now, do what you can to prevent that.

Keep the bathroom hygienic:

While germs generally don’t live on towels very long, they can live long enough to make a healthy kid sick. So launder them regularly. You may even want to switch to disposable paper towels for a week to prevent germs from infecting other family members. By the same token, consider replacing the bathroom water glass with disposable paper cups for a while. And get your child a new toothbrush after he’s been sick.

Wash Hands:

Teach your child how to wash their hands with good warm water and soap. Keeping on top of them regarding this is important. Sometimes just having set times where they wash their hands will get them into a good habit especially at daycare. Right after they get back home, before dinner, after they use the washroom.

Coughing in the Elbow:

Teach your child to cough NOT in their hands, but in their ELBOW area of their sleeve or shirt. This helps prevent germs from spreading to toys or other hands at daycare.

Dressing Warm:

The reality is that most of what hits our kids is them getting cold while doors, so dressing them warm with a good jacket, toque and scarf helps.

Cleaning Toys and Doors:

Most of the time germs are spread through toys and the doorknobs. So disinfecting these things always helps.

Cleaning your Computer:

Wipe down your computer keyboard and mouse at least once a week during the winter months to prevent spread of germs and sickness. Using something like 99% hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol will burn off the germs and clean your keyboard and mouse with-out damaging your electronics.

Infant Massage
by Carolyn Oleson

Best stated, infant massage is a wellness program for children. When else would it be better to implement and instill wellness into people than in childhood? Optimizing our well-being is generally an ongoing goal for all, and infant massage is a great avenue for reaching toward that goal.

Infant massage, also called nurturing touch, is health promoting in a number of ways. One of the most significant results is the enhancement of immune function. Research findings show lower levels of stress hormones in children who are massaged. Knowing that stress hormones sabotage our immune systems and negatively impact health and learning makes using this anti-stress routine a powerful tool for parents.

Another compelling reason to practice nurturing touch for children is the building of neuronal connections. Brain researchers along with child development experts have identified touch as one of the “10 Things Every Child Needs” (McCormick Foundation Project) to grow the brain and enable children to more fully reach their potential.

Massage also can bring about many positive effects that will help parents get through the day in a more loving way. Such effects include helping the child to sleep deeper and longer, and providing relief from gas, colic,
constipation, teething pain, and congestion. Massage is also known to improve muscle tone, digestive tone, and circulation, and to deepen respiration. Best of all, it strengthens the relationship and enhances bonding and communication between parent or teacher and child.

Unlike other massage approaches, infant massage is unique in that it is meant to be provided by a parent or other primary caretaker. The International Association of Infant Massage trains providers to instruct parents on how to massage their child with emphasis on individualizing for each child. The trick is to get the parent to let go of expectations and allow for joyful interaction. It is when parents let go and give unconditional love to their child through touch that remarkable effects are brought about.

Children with special needs ranging from developmental delays to complex medical problems can benefit dramatically from touch. It is possible that this dramatic effect is related to the empowerment that parents feel from providing nurturing touch to their children. When struggling with physical or medical problems, this empowerment goes a long way.

Small group classes of up to four sessions are taught to parents of well babies through various health outreach programs such as hospitals, spas, or health clubs. Instruction is also done for children with special needs on a private basis because of the need to individualize for that child. Instructors certified by the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) are available in most areas of the United States.

Infant massage is fairly new to this country, starting in the Midwest in the mid ’80s. It has been part of other cultures in different countries for centuries. Americans are catching on. The IAIM’s goal for the future is to have infant massage passed down from generation to generation. Then it will be an important element of child rearing in American culture too.

For more information on infant massage, contact the International Association of Infant Massage at (805) 644-8524.