Keeping your kids healthy is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. Now that school is back in session, your children will be in contact with more germs. It’s even more vital now to be safe with your child’s health during the pandemic.
Health encompasses more than physical health, though. You need to keep your kids healthy emotionally and mentally, too. Starting healthy habits when they are young sets them up for developing lifelong habits. Here is how you can keep your kids healthy this year.
Wash Hands Frequently
Hand hygiene is perhaps the best way to keep your kids healthy. You’ve probably taught your kids the importance of washing their hands, especially in light of the pandemic. It’s important to remind them to wash their hands and encourage this habit when they head back to school in person. They can also use hand sanitizer when washing isn’t an option.
Although washing hands is necessary after using the restroom, your kids should be washing their hands more frequently than that. They should be scrubbing after they use the toilet, before meals, after coughing and sneezing, after putting their hands in their mouth or nose and after they’ve played. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the best way to wash your hands is with some soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Provide Healthy Meals and Snacks
A nutritious diet is part of a healthy lifestyle. Kids are bombarded with fast food signs and commercials about candy. Grocery stores place sugary treats and foods at kid levels to attract them. Brands use bright colors to catch kids’ attention. These won’t provide your child with the nutrients they need as they grow.
That’s why it’s up to you to provide healthy meals and snacks for your kids. A healthy diet is the backbone of good health. Offer plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins. Limit their exposure to sugar. This doesn’t mean they can’t have a treat once in a while, though. Banning junk food now could lead to eating problems later in life.
Stay Up-to-Date with Vaccinations
When babies are born, they get vaccinations that protect them from certain diseases and illnesses. These vaccines have been proven effective, and they can save lives. It’s essential to stay up-to-date with vaccines and teach your kids how vaccinations protect them from getting sick.
Be a role model for your kids in this way. Sign up to get the flu shot every fall. Take the initiative to get the COVID-19 vaccine, too. Vaccines help keep kids and adults healthy, especially when germs are more prominent.
Kids need playtime as they develop. Playing helps them hone their fine motor skills, and it encourages them to communicate with other children. Besides that, when they go outside to play, they’re running around and getting exercise, which is necessary for good health.
Playing outside helps them maintain a healthy weight. It keeps the heart strong and strengthens bones. Keeping an active lifestyle from a young age can prevent illnesses, too. Indoor play is beneficial for their health as well. Board games and reading help them focus and improve their mental health.
Ensure They Get Sleep
Kids need sleep just as much as they need oxygen to breathe. Without a proper amount of sleep, kids can have a challenging time throughout the day. As a parent, you need to help them establish a healthy sleeping schedule from the beginning.
Babies need the most amount of sleep. During the first three months, they will sleep up to 17 hours. As they get older, that time slowly decreases. By the time they’re a toddler, they’ll sleep up to 14 hours. Preschool children sleep between 10-13 hours, and school-age kids should get at least nine hours of sleep. These numbers also include nap times.
Watch Their Mental Health
Keeping your kids physically healthy is important. However, physical health isn’t the only thing you should consider for your child’s overall well-being. Their mental health is just as critical to their development. Parents should watch for signs of poor mental health in their children and seek help if needed.
Poor emotional and mental health can weaken immune systems. This means your kids could be more susceptible to illness. Start by recognizing their feelings and validating them. Teach them basic coping techniques and keep an open line of communication. Mental disorders begin early on, as about 17% of children aged two to eight in the United States are diagnosed with one each year.
Be a Role Model of Healthy Habits
Overall, you need to be a role model of healthy habits for your kids. Children are impressionable beings, and they look up to you for everything. When you model healthy habits, like washing your hands, sleeping and staying active, they’ll follow. The earlier you instill these habits in your children, the more likely they’ll be to carry them on throughout their life.
A parent’s dream is to have healthy kids, and that dream starts with you.