If you’re a parent, you know that your kids are the most important part of your life. But as difficult as it is to admit, there may be times when parenting gets in the way of other priorities. With work and family demands, it can be tough to make health a priority for everyone in your household.But caring for children goes beyond making sure they eat their vegetables and put on sunscreen. The first steps toward keeping them healthy should happen long before they’re born, making sure mom gets prenatal care and avoiding certain behaviors during pregnancy that might increase the child’s risk for health problems later in life. You can also encourage good habits as early as possible by starting with these 10 tips.
1) Eat Healthy Food and Take a Multivitamin
The days of telling kids to eat their vegetables and drink their milk may feel like an uphill battle. But it can be won by taking care of your diet before sitting down at the table with them. A healthy start begins in the womb, so take prenatal vitamins and make sure to get enough folic acid (the B vitamin associated with birth defects) through foods like spinach and lentils well before you conceive. Once the baby arrives, both you and your child will need proper nutrition for healthy growth; breastfeeding is especially important if you’re nursing.
2) Breastfeed Your Baby If Possible
Breastfeeding not only gives your baby a great head start in life: helps protect mom too! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding completely for about the first six months. The nutritional and immunological benefits of breast milk make it a smart choice for your child until age one or longer than – as long as you’re both enjoying it. The formula is OK too but does not offer all of the same advantages as breast milk.
3) Protect Your Children from Secondhand Smoke
It’s bad for everyone’s health: protecting kids from secondhand smoke can reduce their risk for asthma and other respiratory diseases and decrease ear infections and irritability due to allergies/asthma. And if that isn’t convincing enough, studies have shown that children whose parents smoke are more likely to develop smoking habits during adolescence than those who grow up in smoke-free households.
4) Be a Role Model for Good Posture
Besides genetics, the best way to ensure long-term good posture is to make sure you’re leading by example. Your kids will be more inclined to sit up straight and maintain proper head position when they see mom and dad keeping their backs straight too. Just like athletes who visualize success before hitting the field, your children can learn how to perform better in life with some early modeling.
5) Talk with Children about Sexuality as They Get Older
Talking about sexuality and sexual health should begin as soon as your child asks questions about either one. These conversations may feel awkward at first, but they’ll get easier if you keep the lines of communication open and answer all the questions with honesty. And remember that these chats aren’t just about biology: they’re also about personal safety and emotional health.
6) Get Your Children Immunized from an Early Age
As your children become more mobile, infections can spread through entire communities in a short amount of time. Mumps, measles, chickenpox – all of these viruses are best fought early on by keeping kids’ shots up-to-date. If your child needs to be reminded to wash his or her hands frequently during the day or if you worry that proper hand-washing techniques haven’t been instilled (even after washing up together), check out the CDC’s Hand Washing Tutorial for great tips!
7) Establish Family Bedtimes
Getting enough quality sleep is vital to both adults and children’s health. Although setting consistent bedtimes may take some effort, it can be worth it when everyone wakes up well-rested and ready for the day ahead. And although having a toddler in your bed might feel like you’re back to those sleepless nights of infancy, many parents report getting more rest with their kids at home. Don’t forget: sleep deprivation makes everything harder, so get plenty of shut-eye however you can!
8) Read Together as a Family Regularly
There’s no better way to relax than curling up with a good book – that is, if you find pleasure in reading. If all the latest TV series and video games hold more appeal than pages and print, then the nightly book reading tradition probably won’t take. But if you enjoy a good story as much as your child does, then start a family library of sorts: develop some weekly or monthly family book club meetings to share what everyone’s learned.
9) Play Together at Least Every Other Day
Although daily screen time limits are currently being hotly debated in medical circles, one thing is certain: kids need playtime to maintain both physical and mental health. And although games on the playground work up an appetite for lunch, too much outdoor fun can lead to exhaustion so be sure to plan healthy snacks accordingly! When life gets busy, try squeezing in at least one board game each week with the family to ensure that playtime doesn’t fall by the wayside.
10) Eat Dinner Together Every Night
The most important meal of the day is best enjoyed together. Whether you consume breakfast foods or dinner staples, make regular family meals part of your routine for healthier kids and happier households! When everyone sits down at roughly the same time each night, it’s easier to plan healthy menus with nutritious ingredients. And if all else fails, just turn off the TV during dinner – studies have found that families who eat in front of screens are not only less likely to enjoy their food but are also more likely to overeat.
The tips outlined above cover a variety of issues that affect both parents and children. Whether you’re concerned about your child’s safety, their ongoing education, or even just the family dynamic, these principles have great potential to improve any household and make life a little easier. Good luck to you and your family!
Sarah has been writing for a decade and now for the learn online Quran Website. She obtained her Master’s degree at the University of London. Her main objective is to write insightful content for those people who read and like it.
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