Babies grow rapidly and so do their needs. Children need freedom to explore, develop and connect during this rapid growth period—but in a safe environment.

To secure a safe environment, take a baby’s point of view. Get down on your hands and knees to see what is at a baby’s level.   Look for outlets, blind cords, small objects, hanging tablecloths, poisonous plants and other hazards.  Make corrections to secure safety.

Do a daily check! Be certain that toys and gear are used properly and are appropriate for your child.  Inspect baby items for missing hardware, loose threads and strings, holes and tears.  Discontinue use of these items as needed.

Follow these tips to create a safe environment for your child at every stage and age:

Sleep Safety

  • Safest place for a baby to sleep is in a bare, fully functional, properly assembled, certified crib.
  • Room share instead of bed share for the first year.
  • Avoid placing the crib or toddler bed near windows with cords from blinds or drapes.
  • When your child is able to pull up to a standing position, set the mattress to the lowest position and remove any objects that could serve as steps for climbing out of the crib.
  • It’s time to move your child to a toddler bed when he or she begins to climb out of the crib.

Car Seat Safety

  • Children should ride rear facing until they reach the maximum rear-facing weight or height allowed by the guidelines.
  • Children who exceed rear-facing limits should ride in forward facing car seats with a harness.
  • Children who exceed the forward facing harness limits should ride in a booster seat until seat belts alone fit correctly.
  • Follow car seat instructions for proper use and don’t forget to register your car seat with the manufacturer.
  • Follow your state’s child-seating requirements. The back seat is the safest place for children under 13 to ride.

Product Safety

  • Never leave children unattended during bath time and avoid distractions.
  • Never place your baby’s infant seat, swing, bouncer or car seat on a countertop, table or any raised surface.
  • Always used harnesses and straps when provided, each time.
  • When a baby begins to crawl, install gates on doorways and stairs.
  • Always follow manufacturer’s instructions, warning labels and recommendations for age and weight requirements.

Be confident you are doing everything right when it comes to baby safety. Be safe!

Written by: Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu







Hiking and Health

Two children in hiking clothes next to a sign that says Alum Cave Trail. Trees are in the background.

The fall is a great time to get outdoors for a day hike. Day hiking is a low impact physical activity, and offers the countless health benefits of being outdoors. Being in nature, or even seeing scenes in nature, reduces anxiety, stress, improves moods and cognitive functioning. In addition to feeling better emotionally, nature contributes to physical health including reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones!

Getting Ready for a Day Hike

Hiking is a fairly, low-cost activity. Needed supplies for a half day or day hike include:

  • A comfortable pair of hiking boots or shoes
  • a backpack
  • water bottle
  • food or snacks
  • sunscreen, use even on a cloudy day to avoid burns
  • bug-spray

Dress in layers of clothing so you can add or remove as you get sweaty or take breaks. Non-cotton shirts that fit tight and wick up sweat should be the bottom layer. This will keep you dry and your temperature regulated. Changes in elevation may cause temperature changes as well.  Check the weather before you go out but be prepared for anything. Rain gear such as ponchos are inexpensive and light.

Food and Water

Nutrition is important to keep energy levels up. Consider the five major food groups when planning meals and snacks: fruits, vegetables, protein, grains, and dairy. A mixture of protein and carbohydrates before, during and after the hike will keep your blood glucose steady and will help you replenish energy stores at the end of the hike. Raisins and Peanuts (GORP) is the perfect snack as it blends protein and carbohydrate. Energy bars are also helpful but can be expensive. For hikes lasting for 2 hours or more think about food safety. Keep foods that you would normally refrigerate (meats, dairy, cooked grains, leftovers, cut fruits and vegetables) cool at 40 degrees or below in an insulated pack with ice.

Hydration is critical. Be sure to drink fluid (preferably water) on a regular bases even if you aren’t thirsty. As a general rule, bring about 2 cups of fluids for every hour of hiking, and drink about 4 cups prior to hiking to prevent cramping.

Other precautions

Be wary of poisonous plants such as poison ivy and ticks. Stay on the trail as much as possible to avoid both of these problems.  Consider wearing treated clothing or bug spray on clothes, especially under the waist to avoid ticks. Tick borne illnesses are becoming more common. If possible bring a map of the trail or use GPS. It’s always a good idea to bring a friend, especially if you are a beginner hiker.

For more in-depth information on hiking, sign up for OSU Extension’s three part webinar series: Hiking and Health at go.osu.edu/hikinghealth. The webinar series is created by Family and Consumer Sciences and Ag & Natural Resources specialists who have a passion for the great outdoors. This series will aim to provide education and insight into how to properly prepare to spend time in the woods. This series will cover a variety of topics related to hiking and health, such as:

  • Food safety on the trail
  • Proper hydration techniques
  • Tick prevention
  • Plant identification
  • Proper gear selection
  • And more!

When: Tuesday October 8th, 15th, and 22nd from 11:30am – 12:30pm!

Where: Zoom! Once you register at go.osu.edu/hikinghealth, you’ll be sent Zoom links to participate in each webinar.

Author: Dan Remley, PhD, Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness, OSU Extension

Reviewer:  Pat Brinkman, Associate Professor and Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, OSU Extension


University of Minnesota. 2016. How does Nature Impact our Wellbeing? https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2019. 5 Tips for Camping and Hiking. https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing

Over scheduled again?

Over scheduled would be the word I try to avoid every fall. With school, starting sports and activities usually, resume making school nights hectic. There are so many great opportunities and it is easy to overbook children with sports and extracurricular activities. Some years we really miss the mark, other years we do better at prioritizing activities and schoolwork.

Like adults, children also need downtime to be at their best. If we want our children to do, their best in school we want to set them up for success in the evenings. Parents need to give children adequate time to complete schoolwork and prepare for the next day. Providing this time in the evening can be tough with multiple children, homework, and activities. Try a few of these suggestions to help with over scheduled school nights:

Child working on homework

1. Make eating dinner a priority. There are many benefits to regular family meals. These include higher self-esteem, better academic performance, lower substance abuse and lower rates of obesity. Sitting together for meals can help increase family unity. Planning a family dinner in the schedule on school nights can help family members slow down, regroup and unwind from the day.

2.     Help children with homework. This can help children do well in school but also this time is beneficial to parents making sure their students are staying up with classwork, and getting adequate time to complete their assignments.

3. The start of each school year is a good time to evaluate the academic, social, physical and emotional needs of each child when it comes to extra activities. Keep in mind that children are unique and their needs will be different. Some children can handle their schoolwork and extracurricular activities without difficulty. Other children may benefit from more time for homework and fewer activities.  

4.     Have an evening routine. Routines are beneficial for keeping families organized. An evening routine could include family dinner, homework time, chores, time for activities and bedtime. Children need different amounts of sleep depending on their age.  Children who do not get enough sleep can struggle academically, and be tired or cranky at school.   

Carefully selecting the right balance of extracurricular activities can be difficult. Parents providing support can be beneficial to children as they try to balance academics, friends, sports and other activities. In the end, academics will be important to your child’s success. Choosing academics over one more activity, or working on a slower evening routine may exactly what a child needs to feel prepared for their next day of school.  

Written by: Alisha Barton, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County.

Reviewed by: Lorrissa Dunfee, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County.


“Benefits of Family Dinners.” The Family Dinner Project, https://thefamilydinnerproject.org/about-us/benefits-of-family-dinners/.

College-Homework-Help.org. “Should Parents Help with Homework to Let Their Kids Succeed at School.” Should Parents Help with Homework to Let Their Kids Succeed at School, https://college-homework-help.org/blog/should-parents-help-with-homework.

“Routines for a New School Year.” Live Healthy Live Well, 13 Feb. 2019, https://livehealthyosu.com/2018/08/06/routines-for-a-new-school-year/.

“Signs Your Child Isn’t Sleeping Enough.” Sleep.org, https://www.sleep.org/articles/signs-your-child-isnt-sleeping-enough/.

picture of nut butter spread with berries

Do you remember when peanut butter was the only nut butter available on the grocery store shelves? Options included creamy and chunky, and eventually low sodium and natural, too.

Today, the nut butter market has grown exponentially, for a variety of reasons! People with peanut allergies want alternatives to peanut butter, and some schools have gone nut free as a precaution for students with nut allergies. Additionally, consumers like to look for new and exciting flavors to jazz up traditional snacks like PB&J sandwiches.

Most nut butters are made from either tree nuts like almonds, cashews or hazelnuts, or from seeds (e.g. sunflower seed butter), since peanuts are actually a legume. However, chickpea butter now exists as an alternate legume-based spread, and its creators claim it has a similar texture and nutritional profile to peanut butter.

When looking for a nut butter to try, variables to consider include taste, texture, spreadability and nutrition content. To see how nut butters stack up nutritionally, keep in mind that a 2 Tablespoon serving of peanut butter has 7 grams of protein and 2 grams of sugar. Many peanut butter alternatives have more sugar and less protein than peanut butter, so your best bet is to look for options that are comparable to peanut butter in nutrition content. A good rule of thumb is to avoid flavored or sweetened nut butters, like chocolate hazelnut spreads and cookie butters, as these tend to be the highest in sugar.

One nutritional benefit of mixing up your nut butter selection is that while most nuts are similar in fat and calorie content, they contain different vitamins and minerals. Cashews are rich in copper, for example, and almonds are a good source of Vitamin E. So, consuming a variety of nuts – as long as you don’t have a nut allergy – can help provide you with the different vitamins and minerals that your body needs to thrive.

Don’t forget about portion control when consuming nuts and nut butters, though. A serving of nut butter is only 2 tablespoons, and a serving of raw nuts is ¼ cup- about the size of the palm of your hand. It can be easy to overspread and overeat nuts and nut butters, and the fat and calories contained in these foods can add up quickly. Read your food labels and use measuring utensils to practice portion control, and you’ll get the nutritional benefits of nuts and nut butters without overindulging.


Ettman, L. (2017). Here’s what you need to know about sugar in nut butters. Nutrition Action. https://www.nutritionaction.com/daily/sugar-in-food/sugar-in-peanut-butter/

Nurture Life (2016). Top 7 Kid Approved Peanut Butter Alternatives. https://nurturelife.com/blog/top-7-kid-approved-peanut-butter-alternatives/

USDA (2012). Household Foods Fact Sheet: Peanut Butter, Smooth. https://whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/factsheets/HHFS_PEANUTBUTTER_100395Oct%202012.pdf

Warren, R.M. (2016). Best nut butters to eat right now. Consumer Reports. https://www.consumerreports.org/nut-butters/best-nut-butters-to-eat-right-now/

Watson, E. (2018). Nut butter… minus the nuts? The amazing chickpea offers a pulse-based alternative. https://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Article/2018/04/05/Nut-butter-minus-the-nuts-The-Amazing-Chickpea-offers-a-pulse-based-alternative

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

A year ago, I struggled with depression after a foot surgery. I experienced feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, fatigue and overwhelm. I thought this had something to do with my reaction to my limitations after surgery: restricted mobility and not being able to work, etc. while I was healing. But when these same symptoms repeated a year later after a similar surgery (even with much quicker healing and return to work) I began to realize that depression may be related to the surgery itself. I investigated this phenomenon and found that postoperative depression is a very common occurrence. If this is so common, why didn’t anyone prepare me? In hopes that my experience might help someone else as they face or recover from a surgery… I’d like to share what I’ve learned…

Depression is a well-documented adverse effect of many surgical procedures. According to the American Heart Association, 25% of patients experience depression after cardiac surgery. Depression can result from a number a reasons, including pain and discomfort, decreased mobility, and increased dependency on others. For patients who have had a surgery to remove an organ or body part, a feeling of loss can also contribute to depression. In addition, the brain’s immune response to anesthesia and surgery can cause cognitive dysfunction.

Symptoms of postoperative depression may include:

  • fatigue
  • difficulty making decisions
  • memory problems
  • eating more or less than usual
  • sleeping more or less than usual
  • loss of interest in activities
  • irritability and restlessness
  • slower movement
  • slower speech
  • anxiety and stress
  • feelings of despair or hopelessness
  • suicidal or self-harming thoughts

Depression can also increase the risk of physical illness and slow the recovery from an injury or operation. Furthermore, depression after surgery can increase a patient’s perception of pain.

While it is normal to experience many of these symptoms after surgery, if they persist longer than two weeks, talk with your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe a medication temporarily to help you feel more like yourself.

picture of teddy bear in hospital bed

There are several things you can do to beat the post-surgery blues…

  • Take care of yourself
  • Ask for help
  • Spend time outdoors
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Surround yourself with loved ones
  • Do something you enjoy
  • Ease SLOWLY back into routine

The American Heart Association (AHA) has resources including this pre-surgery checklist and postoperative recovery milestones. AHA offers these tips for recovering from surgery:

  • Manage Expectations – ask questions ahead of time to know what to expect for your recovery
  • Take it slow – if you push it too fast, you can slow your healing. Give your body and mind the time they need to heal
  • Move, but at your own pace – exercise can aid in healing, but only what your doctor has approved
  • Celebrate progress – while recovery can seem to take forever, a look back to see how far you have come can be encouraging.

If you or a loved one is facing surgery, learn as much as you can about the physical, and emotional effects of surgery in order to improve chances of feeling better while recovering.


American Heart Association. (2019). Post Surgery Milestones: Managing Your Mood, Expectations and Goals The Emotions of Surgery Recovery. Retrieved from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-valve-problems-and-disease/recovery-and-healthy-living-goals-for-heart-valve-patients/post-surgery-milestones-managing-your-mood-expectations-and-goals#.WSVLfBPyuu4

Chowdhurry, S., (2019, Feb 6). “Why Some People Get Depressed After Surgery—Even if They’ve Recovered Just Fine.” Retrieved from https://www.health.com/condition/depression/depression-after-surgery

Depression and postoperative complications: an overview. Ghoneim MM, O’Hara MW. BMC Surg. 2016;16:5. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4736276/

Johnson, J. (2017, May 25). “Depression after surgery: What you need to know.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317616.php.

Mirani, S. H., Areja, D., Gilani, S. S., Tahir, A., Pathan, M., & Bhatti, S. (2019). Frequency of Depression and Anxiety Symptoms in Surgical Hospitalized Patients. Cureus11(2), e4141. doi:10.7759/cureus.4141 Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6485537/

Writer: Shannon Carter, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

picture of journal with note "Make it Happen"

Earlier this year I decided to do some research in to increasing productivity since I found myself saying or thinking how busy I was, even though I did not feel like I accomplished as much as I could or should. In my first blog about productivity, I rejected the notion of multitasking. In my second blog, I talked about taking breaks FROM work. I would be lying if I told you I have been doing well with either concept, especially the last couple months.

Over the summer, I have slipped back into my old ways. I have not been turning off email as often as I should (it is closed as I write this.) I have found myself starting one thing and then trying to do something else simultaneously. I have been taking breaks from my work on some days, but not as faithfully as I had planned. In fact, I was just telling my co-worker that SHE needs to take breaks from her work. I had to admit to her, that it was also a reminder for me to do the same. While my tendency would be to lament about my lack of progress, I have accepted that this is a process.

When we start something new or try to do things differently, there is bound to be a learning curve. As I am trying to learn different ways of working, I am likely to stumble, and I may even fall flat on my face. When this happens, I need to get back up and continue or start over. So, today I have my email turned off while I work on this blog. In a little while, I am going for a walk outside to help me reset and refresh. While I have not been as regular as I wanted to be with these changes, I am not going to be too hard on myself. I am going to regroup and make a concerted effort to get back to doing some of the things I committed to doing earlier this year.

to do list... "Later, tomorrow, today, Now"

Since my last blog, I have done some additional reading about productivity. In the article, “How to Boost Your Workplace Productivity” Tamar Shulsinger gives these suggestions:

  1. Develop a Morning Routine
  2. Prioritize Your Calendar
  3. Arrange Your Tasks in Order of Importance
  4. Communicate Efficiently
  5. Consider the Pomodoro Method
  6. Define What Work-Life Balance Means to You

I have been using some of these ideas, but again, not consistently. I want to become better about prioritizing my calendar, arranging my tasks, and using the Pomodoro Method. I will keep you updated in future posts as to how it is going. I would love to hear what tips or suggestions do you have for maximizing productivity. The more tools I have, the better.

Writer: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu





Cirillo, F. Do more and have fun with time management. Cirillo Consulting. Retrieved from: https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique

Harmon, M. (2019). Accomplish even MORE in LESS Time. Live Healthy Live Well Blog. Retrieved from: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/livehealthyosu.com/11895

Harmon, M. (2019). Accomplish MORE in LESS Time. Live Healthy Live Well Blog. Found at: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/livehealthyosu.com/11802

Shulsinger, T. (2017). How to Boost Your Workplace Productivity. Northeastern University Graduate Programs. Found at: https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/how-to-boost-workplace-productivity/

In the near future, your doctor may prescribe getting outside and embracing nature. Your doctor may suggest that you participate in green exercise, or they may write a nature prescription.

Green exercise includes any physical activity that takes place outdoors. Think about taking a walk in nature, exploring a park, or discovering a new forest area.

Michigan State University Extension has an interesting article about the benefits of green exercise. Some of these benefits may include:

  • boosting the immune system
  • lowering blood pressure
  • reducing stress
  • improving mood
  • increasing ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
  • accelerating recovery from surgery or illness
  • increasing energy level
  • improving sleep

According to research from the University of Washington, exposure to trees and other natural features provide positive changes to our emotional well-being, such as reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.


While visiting Whidbey Island, Washington, I enjoyed finding this artistic piece of driftwood and rocks. Someone left this “gift of nature” for anyone who came upon it to enjoy. If we take a moment to pause and reflect on the beauty of nature, we may find that our stress levels are reduced, our mind calms and we feel more positive.

I love being outdoors – it is good for me both physically and mentally. Spending time in nature helps me slow down the pace and embrace the beauty of nature.

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

Do you need a little more motivation to get started? Join Ohio State University Extension for their free October webinar series on Hiking and Health. Register by September 24th at go.osu.edu/HikingHealth . You will enjoy learning about topics such as food safety on the trail, proper gear selection, plant identification, tick prevention and proper hydration techniques.


American Heart Association (2018). Spend Time in Nature to Reduce Stress and Anxiety. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/spend-time-in-nature-to-reduce-stress-and-anxiety.

Fogel, A. (2010). Green Exercise. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/body-sense/201009/green-exercise

Green Cities, Good Health. University of Washington. https://depts.washington.edu/hhwb/

BBC News (2018). ‘Nature’ being prescribed by GPs in Shetland. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-45758016

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Immerse Yourself in a Forest for Better Health. https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/90720.html

Tiret, H. June, 2017. Green exercise can improve physical and mental health. Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/green_exercise_can_improve_physical_and_mental_health

Written by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu