Channukah Tips for Parents
Specialists at Schneider Children’s offer tips about enjoying the upcoming Festival of Channukah safely and carefully.
Since a significant portion of the holiday festivities concerns burning candles and hot oil, Prof. Yehezkel Waisman, Director of the Emergency Medicine Department at Schneider Children’s, warns about the danger of burn injuries in children, who should be closely watched during these activities.
Children under the age of 9 should only light candles in the presence of an adult; long hair must be tied back; and clothes with tight-fitting sleeves should be worn. The channukiah (menorah) should be placed on a tray or fire-proof surface separating it from the table cloth or table, placed away from curtains, and never be left unattended at any time, as the candles are not intended to be left thus (as opposed to memorial candles). Matches and candles should be placed out of reach of children immediately after lighting the channukiah. Children should not be allowed to fry doughnuts and latkes (potato pancakes) by themselves, and not be allowed near the gas range during frying.
In the event of a burn from fire or hot oil, wash the affected area under tap water for a few minutes, cover with a sterile dressing or clean damp cloth, and seek medical assistance. An analgesic such as Acamol or Nurofen can be administered for pain according to the recommended dosage if needed.
Dafna Ziv Busani, a clinical dietician in the Nutrition and Dietary Unit at Schneider Children’s, notes that plain doughnuts contain between 350 to 450 calories. Mini-doughnuts are also available, and it is recommended ‘allocating’ just one or two of these during the holiday, and even better if these are divided in half and shared.
It should be remembered that one fried potato pancake equals about 2 - 2½ slices of bread, and contains about 150-200 calories. In order to minimize caloric damage and to enrich the nutritional value of the pancake, grate in vegetables such as carrots or squash which also contribute a range of colors. It is preferable to bake latkes or fry with oil spray for healthier nutrition.
We usually light different colored Channukah candles and with this in mind, one should speak to children about different colors of foods using vegetables and fruit as examples, and the importance of eating 5 different colored foods each day. During Channukah, we have an excellent opportunity to eat onion (white), squash (green), carrot (orange), along with a vegetable salad containing tomatoes (red) and peppers (yellow or green) and have a meal with 5 colors of vegetables.
One of the symbols of Channukah is the miracle of the pitcher of oil. Instead of frying with oil, add oil to a salad and enjoy its healthy properties. Adding two teaspoons of room-temperature oil to salad provides vital fatty acids, assists in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and helps the body to produce substances that protect the blood vessels and heart. During Channukah, most of the calories come from frying doughnuts and potato pancakes. To avoid extra calories, bake the foods or use various tools that “fry” on the basis of hot air, or those that bake the dough in balls or doughnuts.