We need you! See how you can help us by volunteering at PDK »

Tips for Parents

« Back to Resources

Test To See If That's Really Diet Coke

Sent in by Terry:

Ever wonder if that diet Coke you ordered is really a regular Coke? You can test the sugar with a test strip and your meter. If it is diet the meter will say Low. If it is a blend of both it will have a reading below 100. Even a squeeze of lemon will make it read 30 or so. A regular Coke will be at least 300 and maybe read High. My family does this whenever we have doubts if we got a diet drink. The mixup happens a lot.

Emergency Glucagon Kit & Glycogen

A great tip from the book  Your Diabetes Science Experiment:

Do you recall those "emergency glucagon kit" diabetics are suppose to keep near by for severe low blood sugars?  People often think that the sugar to increase your blood sugar is in that glucagon kit syringe, but in fact, glucagon is a hormone produced in your body that then tells your liver to release the glycogen it's storing.  When someone gives you that glucagon injection, the liver releases a lot of glycogen, and your body converts all of that glycogen into glucose to get your blood sugar back to a safe level

Check to see if yours has expired!

Exercise Related: Rainy Days

Here's a tip sent in by Erica from Ashville, NC


I'm not big into video games, but I love the xbox "kinect." My kids will play "Kinect Sports" for 2 hours easy ( soccer, volleyball, bowling, & even track & field ). The next day they are always sore in places they didn't know existed! It's a great workout for them !

Overnight Visits

One of the most nerve-wrecking things is to have someone else take care of your child on an overnight stay. Creating a check list and going over it with the caregiver. To calm your nerves and those of the caregiver, try the following:

a. Have him/her follow the overnight routine you use at home (ex. midnight or 2 a.m. BG checks); b. Locate your child’s bed in or near the caregiver’s bedroom (if appropriate); c. If in an adjacent bedroom, keep the doors open and; d. If your sanity requires it, set your own alarm to call the caregiver at 2 a.m. (yucko!)

Diabetes Coaching While Away From Home

Here's a bit about what Gary Scheiner and his team can do for kids looking for long distance coaching.

Living on your own for the first time can be challenging for anyone, particularly when you have diabetes. In fact, most significant blood sugar control problems arise during the first 3-6 months of living independently. If your child will be leaving home for college, boarding school, or any other destination for an extended period of time, expert diabetes coaching services are available via phone and the internet. Integrated Diabetes Services’ team of CDEs (all of whom have type-1 diabetes) have provided this service for years, and it has been a tremendous comfort to concerned parents and resource to growing kids. Your child will have an opportunity to prepare for what’s ahead of them and learn how to manage their diabetes effectively in an independent situation. CDEs are available to answer questions, offer helpful tips, review self-monitoring records (via pump, meter and CGM downloads) on a regularly scheduled basis, and fine-tune insulin doses in order to achieve safe control. Call 877-735-3648 or visit www.integrateddiabetes.com  for more information.

Entering Bolus Game

Here's a game Dawn, from Ohio, came up with to help her 11 year old daughter:

We have come up with a new "game" to enter her boluses into her meter. It goes like this...she gets her food and I ask her "how much do you owe for your meal today, ma'am?". She'll reply with the number of carbs to cover (she is EXCELLENT at her calculations!), and I'll take her meter and enter the number. Then, before I confirm the bolus, I show the meter to her to check her "total" and ask her to "sign here, please" and either she'll press confirm or just say ok. It's made it a lot better! I don't have to sound like a nag always asking if she's "covered". Now I can play and say, " do you need to pay for that?". Hey, whatever works!!!



Excellent Blood Sugar Control

Laura Plunkett writes:

Our endocrinologist at Boston Children's Hospital has had diabetes herself since she was a young child. Some of the best advice she gave my son was to subtract the fiber grams from the total carbohydrates and then add half the protein grams. She also advised Dan to take insulin twenty minutes before eating (unless his blood sugar level was already low). She explained that protein actually raises blood sugars, but more slowly than simple or complex carbohydrates. This formula allows her to keep excellent blood sugar control, and it has worked wonderfully for my son.

Birthday Party Tip

Often birthday parties are centered around food.  For parents of children  with type 1 diabetes this can pose significant planning issues.  The question we ask ourselves, when's  the best time to celebrate and have food?
In the past we've had JoJo and Nick's  birthday party after school, right around afternoon snack time and before dinner.  The party guests came home with the kids on the school bus. Once they arrive we served cake or cupcakes and  the rest of the time was spent celebrating their birthday.  Everyone was picked up before dinner. 

Diabetes Related Definitions and Explinations

From Diabetic Gourmet Magazine:

A1C: a test that measures a person's average blood glucose
level over the past 2 to 3 months. Hemoglobin  is the part
of a red blood cell that carries oxygen to the cells and
sometimes joins with the glucose in the bloodstream. Also
called hemoglobin A1C or glycosylated hemoglobin, the test
shows the amount of glucose that sticks to the red blood cell,
which is proportional to the amount of glucose in the blood.

Dawn Phenomenon: the early-morning (4 a.m. to 8 a.m.)
rise in blood glucose level.

Islets: groups of cells located in the pancreas that make
hormones that help the body break down and use food. For
example, alpha cells make glucagon and beta cells make
insulin. Also called islets of Langerhans.

Diabetes Tidbits

Here's some suggestions from Julie DeFruscio of Pump Wear

Diabetes Tidbits, are fun informative bite size video’s of diabetes tips. Tips are fun and creative things that have helped this mom of 3 childre with type 1 diabetes manage life with diabetes.

Counting carbohydrates in school

Here's a tip from a parent in Ontario, Canada:

"When our son goes to school (he is going into grade 2) we label his lunches with corresponding dot stickers (red for lunch, blue for morning snack, green for afternoon snack and yellow for "free" snacks). We write the food and carb amounts in a book and his teachers can read what the carbs are (so can he). The book also provides a great resource to correspond with teachers as his numbers are recorded each day. At the age of 6 he was already on the pump and entering his own sugar and carb levels."

Here's another one from a parent in Knoxville, Tennessee:

My daughter and I put together a "pick & choose" menu flowchart with carb counts/serving sizes from the most common meals served in the school cafeteria. We laminated the card and Kate carries it with her. We update it as new menu choices become available.

Travel Related: Airport Security

Hey there... If your next trip involves flying, you may find this info helpful. A lot has changed in airport security in recent years, so being prepared can save you a lot of hassle at the checkpoint!

The information below is excerpted from the guidelines for travelers with type 1 diabetes provided by the TSA.  Before leaving for your trip, you may want to check the TSA website, and call your airline for additional information. 


Diabetic Ketoacidosis

If you believe that your child is in DKA, DO NOT load him/her up in the car and head for the emergency room. You will have to wade through too many people and the wait can be much too long. Call an ambulance; they will begin re-hydrating with an I.V. as soon as they get there, which will help to begin to arrest the DKA slide. My daughter caught her pump tubing on the computer desk, but her set looked ok; in the middle of the night, she was in trouble, and she had the presence of mind to tell us to call the ambulance rather than have us take her and lose a lot of time.

Emergency Room Visit

If you need to go to the emergency room call your doctor's office and have them call ahead and set things up...it will save time and the hospital is  aware of your needs.

Gluten Free Ingredients

Its always good to bear in mind that a product may be GF today but the ingredients can change without notice so it is always good practice to check the ingredients. You can download a coeliac (spelled celiac in the US) society ingredient list onto an iphone. This lists every ingredient alphabetically and tells you whether or not it is GF.

iphone CarbsControl

Kelley from Bloomfield Hills, MI sent in a tip:

My 5 year-old son is newly diagnosed and we are counting carbohydrate challenged. Just discovered an "app" for our iphone called, "CarbsControl". It is a TIMESAVER! Especially when eating out or on the go. It has many of the restaurants we visit listed with carb counts for event the kids' meals!!!! It also lists many "brand name" foods. It is impressive! Hope you find it useful!

Pumping Tips

Pumping Tips for pumpers at  Pump Wear offers tips for everyone wearing an insulin pump.

For a Quick Snooze

Sony has a dream machine clock radio with a nap feature that I couldn't live without. It can be set for 10, 20, 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes.  It's perfect for the midnight madness or a few winks before the school bus arrives.

Give yourself a quick break

I keep a calculator next to the scale in the top draw. It gives my brain a rest, even if it's  only for a moment.

Exercise Related: Rainy Days

On rainy days when the kids can't go outside to play they can still get exercise. At our house we use the tread mill. It's a great way to get some exercise (with supervision of course) and stay dry.  

Food Related: Leftovers

I store leftovers in the refrigerator with either the nutritional facts from the packaging cut out, or a little post-it note with the serving size and carbs taped to the lid. This is  for an easy grab at meal time. No questioning the amount of carbohydrates or serving size!

Exercise Related: Swimming & Pumping

Johnson & Johnson has a large water block (plus) band-aid that is 100% water proof.  It shields out water, dirt and germs. Cover the inset with this big patch to keep it from slipping off as well as sand-free. We have used this bandage to cover JoJo & Nick's  inset for years and it works like a charm.

Food Related: Stevia, Xylitol and Nuva are alternatives to Saccharin, Aspartame and Sucralose

An alternative sugar substitute to Saccharin, Aspartame and Sucralose is Stevia which is a natural sweetener with zero carbohydrates. 

Xylitol  1 teaspoon = 4g of carbohydrates. It's found naturally in fruits and vegetables.

Nuva is 100% natural with zero calories, artificial ingredients and glycemic index. 1/2 teaspoon = 2 g of total carbs. Nuva contains Erythrytol, a natural sweetener derived from fruits, Inulin, a natural fiber that helps digestion and Stevia Rebaudiana, a plant that has been used as a natural sweetener throughout the world for centuries.We purchased this product in our local health food store.

The ideas you'll see here are from moms and dads like you. If there's a tip you'd like to add just let us know by using the Submit A Resource button.

Submit a Tip