I am currently living in Germany and I have recently attended a parent’s evening in the kindergarten where Luna started going in September. The format is created so most parents can take part – it starts at 19:30.
During this meeting, a mom pediatrician attended as a volunteer and informed us about important points concerning the health of our little ones. She answered concerns and we discussed common diseases and their prevention, vaccinations, emergency situations and feeding.
It is actually great to see people give free help and support as she did, I appreciated a lot that she took her evening to come out an speak with us, despite being 5 months pregnant and having loads of things to do in her private life. So kudos to moms helping each other out!
This kind of meeting and recommendations are pretty standard stuff here in Germany, so I piled up the list discussed and I am reporting it below. I knew some of these things before from my interactions with previous other pediatricians in Germany and I find it is very important to be aware of all of them.
Knowing some of these made me feel more secure as a parent because of course, being prepared helps. At least this is how I cope with my mom anxiety. I’m curious if these kinds of meetings and recommendations are popular as well where you live, so please feel free to share your experience.
⁃ Have your emergency numbers in check. Numbers like the children section from the University Hospital in your area, the pediatrician that you can contact if your kid has a fever during the weekend. These are very important to have in handy in case of sickness, it helped me reduce the anxiety of being at home with a feverish baby.
⁃ The ambulance is not a Taxi and it should only be called in cases that are life-threatening.
⁃ 6 to 8 infections in a year are normal for small children (up to 5 years of age)
⁃ The most common infections are respiratory tract infections and gastrointestinal infections.
⁃ Usually we talk about high temperature between 37.5°C and 38.4°C. Fever starts from 38.5°C.
⁃ Sometimes it’s enough to apply symptomatic therapy for fever – fever-reducing medicine (no aspirin though), nose drops, tea, light diet. Antibiotics are rarely needed, and one should aim not to use them since they do have a very strong impact.
⁃ Fever is a controversial topic in my circle of people. I have lived in different countries and I interact with moms from many cultures on a regular basis. I can tell you there are many different approaches to treating fever in kids.
While Germans tend to wait and let the body fight against the infections, other cultures are very fast at seeing a doctor and they even learned to expect treatment with antibiotics. So just know it is OK to have a feverish child.
You have to be aware of some signs – if he is playing, eating (at least some foods he really likes) and drinking and is not completely feeling bad, it is ok, this normally the body fighting the infection. And the body needs to fight on its own.
– After 2-3 days of fever, if the overall state is getting worse, you should definitely see the doctor.
⁃ A great solution offered to stop diarrhea in kids is the Moro soup recipe, which is basically carrots with salt, boiled for 2 full hours. It has been proven to provide immediate effects, the natural way.
⁃ One thing I found absolutely useful and a sign of respect for other kids is that you should not bring a sick child to kindergarten. The rule of thumb is that the child should be fever-free or vomit free for at least 24 hours before he is allowed to come back to Kindergarten (without having taken fever-reducing medicine).
⁃ For infectious diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, 48 hours without vomit diarrhea or fever should pass before sending him to play with healthy kids.
⁃ In Germany vaccination is still not obligatory.
⁃ Vaccination is recommended from STIKO, Standing Vaccine Commission. They put together yearly a vaccination calendar that is published in the Epidemiological Bulletin of the Robert Koch Institute. This contains the recommended standard vaccines for infants, children, adolescents and adults. This year their recommended vaccines are against:
- H. influenzae
- Hepatitis B
- Mumps, rubella
- Herpes zoster
⁃ It helps to read about the symptoms of each of the diseases listed above because even with vaccines, nobody is 100% protected against any of them. You should also read symptoms for hand-foot-mouth disease.
⁃ The calendar for vaccinations should be completely followed in order to have a proper vaccination immunity.
⁃ To eradicate diseases, a vaccination quota of at least 95 is needed in the general population. This year we have watched from a distance what a drop under 95 % in vaccination can mean when New York was fighting the worst outbreak of measles in decades.
⁃ Newborns who have not yet been vaccinated are completely dependent on adequate group immunity.
⁃ Vaccination damages occur very rarely and there is a legal obligation to report them.
⁃ In Germany, 2/3 of burns happen during childhood and there are approximately 30.000 cases a year that happen to kids under 15.
⁃ The burn should not be cooled for too long and it should be done with lukewarm water.
⁃ Infants and small children are a high-risk group.
⁃ It happens almost always in the house under adult supervision.
⁃ A cup of hot tea can represent up to 30% of small burn incidents on children and small children.
⁃ Breast-feeding provides the best food for an infant and there are numerous studies on this. Luckily Germany has a great support system that promotes breastfeeding and from the baby’s first day, new moms get counseling and breastfeeding support.
⁃ If parents or siblings have allergies, the baby should receive allergenic baby formula milk, should breast-feeding not be possible or wanted.
⁃ A supplementary diet should begin earliest with 5 months and the latest at the beginning of the 7th month.
⁃ Always offer water or unsweetened tea with supplementary food.
⁃ Sugar such as sweet stuff and juices should only be offered in moderation.
⁃ A diet should be diversified and balanced.
⁃ Every seventh child in Germany is too fat or obese.