In the past, parents were told that all they had to do in order to keep their children safe and healthy was to have good parenting skills. However, this is not a really meaningful guideline, and the standards of parenting have changed dramatically. Parents are now expected to do more than just ensure that their children make it to adulthood without getting sick or injured too many times.
According to Dr. Hassan Alzein of Alzein Pediatrics, Evergreen Park, and Oak Lawn, parents are still just as concerned with keeping their kids healthy, despite the pressure to be the ideal parent possible in every other way.
Dr. Alzein has been quoted saying, “Your child is bound to contract colds, strep throat, and gastroenteritis throughout the years… Some illnesses are just unavoidable”. He goes on to say that there are, “five basic tactics parents can implement to minimize the risk of illness or, when a child does contract an illness, make the symptoms and complications less severe.”
Here are the suggestions that parents should follow to keep their kids healthy and happy!
1. Schedule Regular Well-Child Visits and Immunizations
Dr. Alzein states that all children should have their well-child visits each year, no matter how healthy they appear to be. Kids can appear to be thriving and succeeding and still have health issues that you might not be aware of. Catching any health issues that are just starting to cause symptoms before they become a big problem can be key to protecting your child’s long-term health.
If you are not sure about the timeline that you need to follow for these well-child visits, Dr. Alzein says, “The American Academy of Pediatrics has outlined well visits from birth to 21 years of age. Your pediatrician’s office will help you make and keep these recommended appointments.”
Parents with concerns about their child’s health, development, or overall well-being should schedule a visit with their pediatrician right away. Early diagnosis is key when it comes to many health conditions. The sooner that your child gets the care that they need, the better. Sticking to the guidelines for well-child visits also makes it far more likely that your child will not miss out on any of their immunizations, which is another cornerstone of good health.
2. Provide Your Child With Health Meals
Kids need to be fed a well-balanced diet in order to thrive. Parents need to think about each meal as fuel for a child’s growth, scholastic success, and overall health. A balanced diet that includes vegetables and fruits is a key part of living a healthy life. Everyone in your family can benefit from eating a well-balanced diet, and family mealtimes can be a great way to set a schedule and spend time together as a family too.
Dr. Alzein indicates that you should avoid feeding your kids processed foods and excess sugar and that a steady diet of fast food can lead to long-term health issues, even in young children. Weight gain can be another factor related to this kind of sugar-laden diet, which can put a strain on your child’s metabolic processes and their growth.
Consider swapping out desserts with fresh fruit and offer kids healthy snacks like carrot sticks or bananas when they are getting tired or grumpy between meals. The team at Alzein Pediatrics recommends the following foods be a regular part of your child’s diet:
- Proteins like chicken, seafood, unsalted nuts, beans, and peas
- Fruits, which can be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried
- Dairy, which can be yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, and also milk
- Grains can be whole grain bread or rice, or which might be oatmeal and popcorn
- Vegetables in a variety of colors and with each meal, if possible
3. Make Sure Your Child Drinks Enough Water
Water consumption is something that everyone could be better about promoting. Even adults consistently fail to drink enough water every day. Even if your child is not actively running around or playing a sport, they still need to drink enough water to maintain gut health and to keep their metabolic processes in balance. Staying hydrated keeps the blood circulating in the body, makes digestion work more effectively, and helps to promote a consistent body temp. There are also mental benefits related to getting enough water every day.
Water intake needs to be promoted for children of all ages, no matter if they are playing or exerting or just sitting and reading a book. Make sure that any time that your child indicates that they are thirsty, you provide water before sugary drinks like soda or juice. These other liquids can be offered from time to time as a treat but are not very effective for hydration and cannot replace water intake on a daily basis. Clear sodas are just as unhealthy as dark ones and cannot be used to replace water, either.
4. Encourage Physical Activity
Parents often have to juggle work responsibilities, family care, and more. It can be hard to find time to play with kids or to be able to take them to the park or for a walk. Exercise is key to good health for everyone. Parents and kids will both benefit from being active on a daily basis.
The CDC states that kids who are physically active when they are young are much more likely to make this kind of activity a priority as they get older. They are also going to benefit from the following:
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Improved cardiovascular and respiratory health
- Reduced chances of developing type 2 diabetes
- Be much less likely to become obese
- Be much less likely to be anxious or depressed
Physical activity can take the form of walking, a family bike ride, or a trip to the park. Most parents just need to make sure that kids are moving around a couple of times a day for longer than five minutes. Aim for a half hour of activity, but if you can manage more, do it!
Kids love to be in motion, and most kids will sleep better and be more likely to eat full meals if they are active every day. You will love how much bonding time you and your child will enjoy when you choose to exercise together as well.
5. Keep a Schedule and Prioritize Rest
Kids need to be kept to a schedule, and they also need to get enough sleep in order to be healthy. Many parents are busy, distracted, and work long days. This can lead to kids that are on their own too much or who are setting their own sleep schedules. Guidance is critical for kids to learn how to set a daily schedule that is healthy and beneficial to their needs for long-term well-being.
Children who are over the age of five will need 9-10 hours of sleep a night. This is when the body rests, and the body can enjoy the benefit of hormones that help with growth and brain development. Children who are overtired will not thrive and might suffer from trouble with focus and emotional regulation.
Keeping your child to a schedule will also help them to learn to take care of themselves, and it will also ensure that they are not worried or stressed needlessly every day. Children like routines, and you will have a lot more fun with your kid if they are kept to a schedule that they can predict. Not only is keeping to a routine good for the physical development of children, but it’s also good for their emotional well-being too.
Building a Healthy Lifestyle Routine is Worth the Effort
Parents can check off a lot of boxes when it comes to creating a healthy environment for their child just by creating a routine that they follow each day and making sure that their child is eating a healthy diet. It’s worth the trouble to use these tips to make sure that your child will be happy and healthy and to make it easy for them to thrive.
Always check in with your kids as well and ask them how they are feeling about their daily routine. Children who are allowed to voice their needs are more likely to be happy and healthy and to feel secure in their homes. You can reach solutions with your kids just by communicating with them about their needs in most cases.
If you run into an issue that you are not sure how to handle, let your pediatrician help you out. Sometimes having the advice of a medical expert can go a long way toward getting you and your child on track for a happier and healthier daily routine. Advocating for your child can also include making sure that they see the doctor on a regular basis. At Alzein Pediatrics, it is always our goal to help you and your children to live happier and healthier lives. We are happy to provide the wellness exams and care that your child needs to thrive as they grow.