Raising children to be happy and healthy adults is certainly no walk in the park; the journey demands relentless effort, careful decision-making, and loads of patience. It is one thing to make decisions for your own well-being; it is an entirely different ball game when it comes to being responsible for someone else.
Parenting is a stressful experience but it doesn’t come without perks. There is nothing like loving your kids and being loved by them. New parents must be very familiar with this dilemma. Natural parental instinct means that parents are always looking for their kids’ health and safety. Inevitably, there are challenges; but with the right guidance, it is possible to make the process go smoothly.
The following are tips to ensure your child’s health and wellness.
1. Frequent medical check-ups
There is nothing like routine health checks to ensure your kids’ physical fitness. Children inevitably fall ill, especially when they are young and their immune systems are not fully developed.
There is no need to panic if your child catches a fever; however, you must regularly check them checked up regularly because your child might be at risk of severe health problems even when they appear physically fit.
Sometimes birth injuries manifest themselves later in life into severe illnesses like neurological problems and cerebral palsy. Routine checks can help identify problems before they develop or before they escalate. You can get more information about birth injury from the birth injury blog where you can learn more about the symptoms of common complications.
2. Practice good hygiene and sanitation
Children are exposed to several pathogens – bacteria and viruses- because of their nature to play outdoors. After all, all kids love playing in the mud or chasing others around in the streets.
You cannot control a child’s nature – and you shouldn’t try to because this is very important for their physical and psychological growth, But what you can do is ensure proper hygiene and sanitation practices. Teach your child to always wash hands before eating meals and after using the toilet.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, this is all the more critical today. You must train your child not to share personal belongings, always use tissues when sneezing, and use alcohol-based sanitizers in school.
3. Develop a good oral hygiene routine
Oral hygiene is another primary concern with children; dental care is essential to keep in mind even before the first teeth emerge! Regularly wipe their gums with a damp cloth in the initial few months before the first teeth begin forming.
When teeth emerge, use an infant toothbrush to clean them and toothpaste that contains fluoride. Flossing becomes essential when the first few teeth begin to touch each other.
The ADA recommends parents should take their children to the dentist regularly after they reach their first birthday. Regular visits to the dentist will also help children overcome the fear of doctors that many tend to develop. At the same time, you must also limit your child’s intake of sugary foods, juices, gummy candy, etc., as they can erode the enamel.
4. Make them eat healthily
One cannot ignore the role of a healthy diet in ensuring both physical and mental health. As the famous saying goes, you are what you eat. Your diet impacts you from the very initial years and habits that you instill in your kids at this time are likely to persist.
Having a nutrient-packed diet is as important, if not more, for children, even as young as one year of age, as it is for adults. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, instructs people to balance the number of calories consumed with physical activity. Doing so helps prevent obesity and reduces the risk of disease.
A balanced diet must include the right amount of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, carbohydrates, and proteins. Fat-free dairy products like yogurt, milk, and cheese are also essential, especially for children in their growing years.
At the same time, make sure you control their intake of sugars, saturated fats, refined grains, and salt. Desserts like cookies, cake, chocolate, etc., and fast food like pizzas and fizzy drinks should all be kept to a minimum.
5. Work on improving their posture
Posture is one of the aspects of our behavior that tends to be neglected, particularly in today’s highly digitalized world of electronic gadgets. Most children end up with terrible postures, mainly due to slouching on chairs when studying or crouching over mobile phones.
Ensure your children follow the exact instructions for posture as adults; the ideal posture is where the elbows, knees, and hips are bent at an angle of 90 degrees. The chairs they use mustn’t be so high that their legs dangle.
The ideal placement of study material and gadgets is an arms-length away, directly in line with the eyes; this way, you don’t have to bend your neck to see.
Posture becomes more problematic when children use chairs designed for adults. Often parents tend to work with whatever they have instead of getting customized furniture for their children.
6. Make them habitual of outdoor play
Today, it is very easy for a child to get trapped in the vicious cycle of playing on tablets or mobile phones for hours. Parents should be cautious about this risk and not be the ones facilitating this terrible habit. Make sure your kid prefers outdoor activities and sports over sedentary activities like television.
It is up to you to make your child enjoy outdoor activities. Make sports a family activity; you can go cycling every weekend in the street or visit the park every day in the evening. If you live in cooler regions, you can opt for more exciting games like snowball fights or hiking. If you put your mind to it, there is a lot that you can do.
Expert opinion suggests that ideally, there should be no more than a few hours a day of screen time and at least one hour of physically active time. If you cannot schedule frequent outdoor activities, you can also go for indoor play like hopscotch, treasure hunts, or hula hoops.
7. Steer clear of the clean plate rule
It is very common for parents to force-feed their children more than their body demands unknowingly; children do not need to eat as much as adults. Parents who adopt the ‘clean plate’ rule, demanding that they finish whatever is on their plate, and reward such behavior with deserts, tend to foster negative associations with healthy food.
The best practice is to let a child eat as much of whatever is on the plate as they like because their natural feeling of satiety will guide them best about their body’s requirements. If your child creates a fuss at mealtime, a better approach is to vary the meal frequently and try different recipes.
8. Maintain good sleep hygiene
Sleep is the time when your body and mind get to repair themselves. Children, in particular, require sufficient sleep to grow physically and mentally healthy. Ideally, children between 6 and 12 require around 9-12 hours of sleep. Between 13 and 18, teenagers should get 8-12 hours.
You can ensure your child develops good sleep habits by fixing a specific time to wind things up and hit the bed. Make sure they don’t use their screens right before bedtime; instead, make them practice a relaxing night-time routine like book reading or yoga.
It is stressful for parents to ensure that their kids develop healthy lifestyles and maintain good physical and mental health. But, with the right tricks up your sleeve, you can ace it. With frequent medical check-ups, good eating habits, improved posture, physical activity, and adequate sleep, your child will be healthy.