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A parent’s top priority is their child’s safety. They want to make sure their child is protected at all times and living a safe and healthy life.
So what exactly is defined as a healthy life for a child? Parents teach children to have healthy eating habits and send them out to play, but there’s more that goes into raising a healthy child.
When taking a modern child’s health into consideration, parents must also consider factors like media consumption and mental health. These factors can have a bigger impact on a child’s health than parents may realize.
Many parents wonder what they should be doing to give their child the happiest and healthiest life possible. If you’re one of those parents, don’t worry. Here are some tips for raising healthy children in our modern world.
Make Sure They Have A Well-Balanced Diet
Healthy eating is an essential part of being a healthy child. As a parent, you need to make sure your child is getting the proper nutrients they need every day.
The recommended nutrients and serving sizes for a child depends on a number of factors, including their age and gender. However, it’s generally recommended that children get a healthy balance of protein, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and grains. It’s also recommended that parents limit the added sugar and trans fats from their child’s diet. Those can be found in things like soft drinks, juices, candy, baked goods, and even certain cereals.
Remember to think about what you’re packing for snacks in the kitchen when you’re taking the kids out to the park, too. It can be easy to pack the hard cooler with snacks that have a lot of added sugar and saturated fats. Instead of packing those snacks, plan ahead and cut up some fruit or vegetables for your child to enjoy while playing.
We all know children can be extremely picky eaters. If you have a picky eater who doesn’t eat a certain food group, check with your pediatrician to see if they’re still getting all the proper nutrients they need. If they aren’t, then it’s time to discuss how they can get those nutrients daily.
Know What Meals They’re Eating At School
More schools these days are providing free meals to their students. It’s estimated that 45% of Catholic schools in the United States participate in Federal Nutrition Programs, which provides 270,000 free meals to children every day.
For many parents, having a school provide free meals for their child is a huge help. However, if your child gets lunch from school, it’s still important to know what kind of meals they’re getting. Are those meals making a positive contribution to your child’s health? Are they helping your child build healthy eating habits? If not, it may be time to weigh out the pros and cons of the program.
If your child does get free lunch from school, then it’s even more important that you teach them healthy eating habits at home. You may not be able to control what the school feeds them, but you can teach them how to make the right food choices in their everyday life.
Have Them Drink Plenty Of Water
In addition to building healthy eating habits, a child should also be drinking plenty of water every day.
The amount of water a child needs every day depends on a number of factors, including their age. Children between the ages of five and eight are advised to drink five glasses per day, whereas it’s recommended that children aged 13 and older drink between eight and ten glasses per day.
It’s important that kids get enough water each day, especially if they’ve been running around. Kids can easily get dehydrated when they’ve been outside playing. Symptoms” of dehydration include cool skin, dizziness, and a dry or sticky mouth. If your child does become dehydrated, they should rest and drink lots of water.
Before you head out anywhere with your child, it’s best to grab a couple water bottles and throw them in the car, especially if it’s warm outside. This will help your child stay hydrated throughout the day.
Get Them To Exercise At Least An Hour A Day
Getting plenty of exercise, combined with healthy eating and proper hydration, will help keep your child in good health. It’s recommended that children get at least an hour of physical activity each day, whether it’s playing sports or going outside to play tag with friends.
It’s also recommended that children do activities that help build their muscle and bone strength, like climbing and jumping. Other physical activities children can participate in include bicycling, jump roping, playing kickball, and swimming.
If your child is struggling to get their hour of exercise in each day, try playing outside with them yourself. Once they see that their parents are playing, they may realize it’s not so bad after all. Plus, you’ll get some bonding time with your child.
If that doesn’t work, try signing them up for an organized sport like football or basketball. They’ll still get their 60 minutes of play in, but they’ll also get to socialize with other children.
Practice Mindful Wellness With Them
Mindful wellness can best be described as actively putting yourself in the moment and focusing on what is happening right in front of you.
These days, it seems as though parents are focusing on the future, and with good reason. They have bills to pay, jobs to do, and families to raise. Of course they want to think about the future, and how they can make it better for their children.
However, focusing too much on the future and not enjoying what’s happening in the present can take a toll on both you and your child. Take time each day to practice mindful wellness with your child. Teach them that they can take life day-by-day and that there’s happiness to be found in the present.
Teaching your child to live in the moment will give them a healthy perspective on life. While it may not have immediate health benefits, like healthy eating does, it will leave a positive impact on their long-term health.
Enroll Them In Activities They Enjoy
Something that will help your child’s physical and mental well-being is enrolling them activities they enjoy doing. If they enjoy painting, enroll them in a painting class. If they enjoy soccer, sign them up for a soccer league.
This may seem simple, but it will have a lasting impact. Children spend a majority of their day in school, being told what to do and when to do it. When you enroll them in an activity they truly enjoy, they’ll feel empowered and excited to take on a new challenge.
This tactic will especially come in handy during the summer. Once school is out, your child will have a lot of time to do the activities they like. Find out what they’d like to do most and sign them up. If they don’t have anything in mind, don’t worry. There are plenty of summer camps for young children out there that can provide lots of different activities for them to enjoy.
Monitor Their Screen Time
Screen time has been a hot topic for decades. Ever since the television was invented, parents have debated how much screen time is too much.
That debate has taken on a new life since smartphones and tablets became a staple in everyday life. It seems like parents are monitoring their children’s screen time now more than ever, and with good reason.
There are studies” that suggest too much screen time can have negative effects on child development. In the age where it seems like everything is on a screen, it’s important that parents keep an eye on how long their children are staring at screens.
It’s suggested that children aged 18 months and younger get no screen time at all. By the time children are between two and three years old, it’s recommended that they get no more than one hour of screen time per day.
If you let your child watch a two hour movie every now and then, it doesn’t mean their health is at risk. However, if you start to notice that they’re spending more and more time in front of a screen each day, it may be time to intervene.
Have Them Help Make Healthy Meals
A great way that kids can build healthy eating habits is to help their parents make healthy meals. By having them help make these meals, parents do two key things.
The first thing they do is define what a healthy meal is to their kids. Children will be exposed to different foods when helping make meals. This is a parent’s chance to explain what a healthy food is, and why it’s important for people to eat it. This kind of education is really valuable for children to know.
The second thing parents do when they have their kids help make meals is teach their children healthy habits. They teach children to become familiar with a kitchen design and layout, and how cooking at home can be healthier than ordering takeout. Having a child support you in the kitchen could create not only healthy eating habits for your kids, but healthy habits in general. Plus, it creates more time for you and your child to bond in the kitchen.
Make Sure They Get Plenty Of Rest
You can make sure your child has healthy eating habits and gets plenty of exercise each day, but all that could be a wash if they aren’t getting enough sleep.
Children need much more sleep than adults do. It’s recommended that toddlers get between 11 and 14 hours of sleep per night, while children between the ages of 6 and 13 should get between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night.
Not sleeping enough can negatively impact a child’s health. Lack of sleep can cause children to become agitated and highly stressed. It can also cause issues with their memory.
It can be easy to miss signs of sleep deprivation in children. One way to see if they’re getting enough sleep each night is to simply ask them. If you find your child isn’t getting enough sleep, then it’s best to talk to your pediatrician about what the next steps should be.
Take Them For Regular Checkups
As your child grows, it’s important that you take them to the doctors for regular checkups. These checkups will help you monitor your child’s overall health.
Getting checkups is crucial for child development. It’s how you’ll be able to determine if your child is growing at the right pace, and if they’re healthy. It’s also how doctors are able to catch serious health conditions early on.
One of those conditions that’s becoming more common is childhood obesity. The CDC has declared childhood obesity a serious problem in the United States, and that it puts kids at risk for other health issues, such as diabetes. If this condition is caught early enough in children, it could save them from becoming diabetic patients for life.
Doctors can recommend a course of treatment, like going to a medical weight loss center or changing a child’s diet. If parents have questions about this, they can turn to healthcare advocacy or even an emergency care clinic for help understanding treatments.
At the end of the day, there are thousands of theories about how to raise a healthy child. You have to trust yourself and your child to make smart decisions, from building healthy eating habits to getting enough sleep.
It’s also important to note that no two children are exactly the same. What habits may work for one child may not work for another, and that’s ok. Children’s health isn’t a one-size-fit-all field. It needs to be looked at from child to child, since each child’s health and background is complex.
Remember, children grow up incredibly fast. While it is important to make sure they live the healthiest lives possible, it’s also important to enjoy your life in the moment, remember that the occasional trip to the emergency room is okay, and trust that you’re making the right decisions.