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Family Outing: A checkup for Teddy bears

December 6, 2017

Children often feel a maternal or paternal bond with their teddy bears, serving as protectors to their plush buddies. This also means that a child’s first role as caretaker is for their stuffed toys.

That’s why the Health Museum’s Teddy Bear Checkup is popular with families. Now in its eighth year, the event takes place Saturday, ready to teach more kids how to patch up their fluffy friends.

But there’s another purpose to this popular event, bringing a beloved teddy bear for an annual exam by a real medical professional makes a child’s own trip to the pediatrician less scary, says Dr. Melanie Johnson, president and CEO of The Health Museum. Adding that children “mirror” behavior they observe.

“If it’s safe for their own stuffed animal, it’s safe for them,” she says.

Children can take their teddy to 10 wellness stations throughout the museum event and earn a certificate of health for their friends.

At Bear Basics, volunteers - some of them local medical students - perform a full check of the toy’s heartbeat, blood pressure and vital signs. They’ll make sure its vaccinations are up to date, an important lesson about the benefits of shots for young patients, Johnson says.

At other stations, children will learn the best way to wash their hands to prevent illness, role play with real medical tools and, along with their teddy, have their vision checked.

The activities are designed to help kids “become acclimated to going to the doctor’s office with no fear,” Johnson says.

The one-on-one time with doctors may also “spark the genius within oneself to become a medical professional,” she says.

Kids can use a stethoscope on their plush pals, stretch and exercise with them, and learn about proper oral hygiene and first aid.

There’s a breakfast with Santa Claus and photo ops with the guy from the North Pole, hot cocoa and holiday-themed, educational crafts and activities.

“It’s a nontraditional way to celebrate the holidays and to kick it off with health at the forefront, which is usually at the back of people’s minds during the holiday season,” says Johnson.

“Rather than overindulging in the holiday season, it seems to spawn a sense of wellness through the family when the young child is exposed.”