Developing a healthy lifestyle for your kids while they are still young is essential for proper growth and development. Additionally, it plays a role in preventing many health issues such as obesity, tummy aches and diabetes. And the good habits you teach them now will help in shaping their future decision making. This article highlights six key tips you can apply as a parent to promote a healthy lifestyle for your kids.
Encourage Physical Activity
The benefits of physical activity for children are numerous. Some of them include improved cognition, reduced risk of diseases, improved mood and behavior, strong bones and muscles, reduced risk of depression and other mental disorders, and weight control.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, younger kids aged three to five should be physically active throughout the day. Older children aged six to seventeen should be encouraged to do sixty minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity including muscle strengthening, aerobic, and bone strengthening activities. Recommended activities for three to five-year-olds as per the guidelines include hopping, throwing games, bicycle riding, tumbling, skipping and hopping.
Provide Them with a Balanced Diet
Just like adults, kids too need a balanced diet. Kids’ diets shouldn’t be complicated, they just have to be balanced. All kids, except those on special diets for medical reasons should have carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables daily. Limit the intake of added sugar, deep fried foods, and saturated fats.
One mistake that parents make is forcing certain food choices on their kids. This makes the child hate meal time and have a negative attitude towards food. The better approach would be to expose your child to a variety of healthy foods and allow them to choose. For instance, there are children who hate broccoli but wouldn’t mind a bowl of spinach. Instead of forcing such a child to eat broccoli which is good for vitamin C, let them eat spinach which is another source of vitamin C. Explore different varieties of healthy foods and meal time will be so much more fun. Finally, don’t forget to educate your child on the benefits of healthy eating.
Ensure They Get Adequate Sleep
Enough sleep for kids is essential for growth and development, heart health and mental health among many other things. The National Sleep Foundation sleep time recommendation as of May 2019 is as follows:
- 14-17 hours for newborns (0-3 months)
- 12-15 hours for infants (4-11 months)
- 11-14 hours for toddlers (1-2 years)
- 10-13 hours for kids aged 3-5 years
- 9-11 hours for kids aged 6-13 years
- 8-10 hours for teenagers
But how do you get your child to sleep for the recommended hours? Consider setting strict rules and adhering to them, creating a bedtime routine, getting your kids to bed early, avoiding meals shortly before bedtime, turning off the TV and other electronics a few minutes before bedtime and avoid stressing the child before bedtime. If you are doing everything but your child still doesn’t get enough rest, this could be a sign of a sleep disorder. Some of the signs to look out for include sleeping a lot during the day, snoring, bedwetting(especially if the child wasn’t doing it before), nightmares, sleep walking and restlessness.
Give Your Child a Massage Once in a While
Any child can get a massage regardless of the age. However, for younger kids, the massage has to be very gentle. Massage can be done at home by the parent or you could have a professional massage therapist do it for you. Consider a spa day for the entire family where the kids get gentle massages and the parents get a deep tissue massage. However, before you take your kids to a massage spa, check whether the spahas professionals who have specialized in pediatric massage. Also, check whether their products are safe to use on kids.
Massages will help your kids to relax and this can improve the quality of sleep they get. Additionally, massaging the young ones can help ease digestive issues such as gas, tummy aches and constipation. Other benefits include decreased risk of injury for children involved in sports, pain relief, easing growing pains and anxiety relief. When it is the parent doing the massage, the baby-parent bond is strengthened and the child feels loved and cared for.
Teach Personal Hygiene Early
Good personal hygiene is essential for health. Teaching your kids about personal hygiene early is critical because kids come into contact with dirt and germs a lot. Thus, if they are not aware how to care for themselves, you will be dealing with endless illnesses and diseases. Some of the things you should teach your kids while they are still young include washing hands before touching food, proper bath techniques, dental hygiene, washing hands after using the washrooms, and hair and skin care.
Promote Dental Health
Proper oral care from a young age will prevent cavities, loss of teeth and uncomfortable dental procedures for your kids. Proper dental care entails brushing twice a day, visiting the dentist regularly for checkups, flossing daily, using the right dental products and eating a balanced diet rich in calcium and phosphorous. Your child should start dental visits a few months after the first tooth comes out. This is usually before the first birthday. On your first visit, you will get tips on how to clean the baby’s teeth and mouth to prevent dental issues.
You should brush your child’s teeth until they are six years of age or up to when they can do it well by themselves. However, when the child is old enough to hold a toothbrush, allow them to brush for a minute as you instruct them and then take over and clean the areas they didn’t reach. To keep them interested, involve them when picking toothbrushes and toothpaste at the store, educate them on the importance of dental health and set up some daily reminders to brush and floss. As you teach your kids healthy habits, remember you are their role model. Thus, set a good example by making healthy choices in your life too. t