The moment you become a parent, life is filled with difficult choices (and lots of concerns) surrounding your child’s health and well-being. Especially in a world of conflicting opinions and endless information, it can be hard to know if you’re doing the right thing at the right time.
Fortunately, if you’re thinking about your child’s health needs, you’ve already taken the first step. And when you’re seeking guidance, we’re here to support your family through every age and stage with comprehensive care and important health information.
Here are some basic recommendations that can help you keep your children’s physical, mental and emotional health on track.
Nurturing Healthy Moms and Babies
Care for your child starts before they’re even born. Expert mother and baby care ensures your growing family gets the best possible start. Seeing an OB/GYN regularly throughout pregnancy can help with everything from genetic testing to high-risk referrals and more.
A health navigator can ensure you feel prepared and confident by helping with things like scheduling parent education classes, setting up a lactation consultation and finding a pediatrician.
Leaning On Your Child’s Pediatrician
Your pediatrician will meet your child in his or her very first days of life. From then on, they’ll be your trusted guide through every checkup, milestone, vaccination and runny nose. It’s important to find a doctor your family feels comfortable with and foster open communication that helps you stay ahead of potential issues and quickly identify and treat injuries and illnesses that arise.
You might only think to call your pediatrician when your little one is under the weather, but it’s important to remember that they can answer questions about nutrition, sleep, behavior and more — or refer you to a specialist when more in-depth care is needed.
When your child is a baby, you’ll likely see your pediatrician often for physical and developmental checkups, immunizations and sick visits. As your child grows, don’t forget to lean on their doctor for whole-health questions you have along the way.
Learn more about the importance of developmental screenings (and what to look for) here.
Creating Healthy Eating Habits
A healthy weight (and a healthy relationship with food) are two key components of wellness. Eating a nutritious and balanced diet may come naturally to your family — or it may have been a struggle from day one.
Here are some tips for supporting your child’s weight and nutrition:
Discuss BMI With Your Pediatrician
The best way to determine if your child is at a healthy weight is to compare their body mass index (BMI) to other kids of the same age, sex and height and have a discussion with your pediatrician. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a simple online calculator.
Meal Plan as a Family
Before you head to the grocery store, take a few minutes each week to sit down with your family and brainstorm some healthy meals. When kids are involved in picking the meals, they’re more likely to try new foods, even the healthier ones.
Go Shopping Together
When kids are old enough, taking them to the grocery store is a great way to teach them about choosing healthy food. It’s also an opportunity to teach them how to read and understand nutrition labels.
Prepare It Together
If kids are getting involved in planning and buying food, it only makes sense for them to start learning about how it gets made. Cooking also provides opportunities to show children how food is grown.
Think About Habits, Not Diets
Ultimately, the goal is to make healthy nutrition a habit, like brushing your teeth. Over time, save and compile healthy recipes that have been winners with your family. Work toward doing most of your grocery shopping around the perimeter of the store — where the freshest foods and produce are.
Watch Your Words
In general, it’s best to talk about eating in terms of health, not weight. Weight can add negative emotions like shame, which can make kids and teens retreat into unhealthy habits. Children also respond better to positive reinforcement than rules about what they “can’t” eat. If you substitute unhealthy foods with healthier options — like fruit-infused water instead of soda — your family may be more open to changes.
Be a Model
Your kids are watching what you buy, cook and fill your plate with. Try new foods together, even if you’re skeptical. The idea is to make small yet consistent steps forward every day.
Living an Active Lifestyle
Technology has made it easier than ever to be comfortably entertained by a screen — and not finding active fun outdoors.
According to the American Heart Association, only about one in five adults and teens get enough exercise to maintain good health — at least 2.5 hours of heart-pumping activity per week.
Children 3 to 5 years old should be physically active and have plenty of opportunities to move throughout the day. Kids age 6 to 17 old should get at least 60 minutes per day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity.
The good news is, even light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary. The whole family will benefit in body, mind and spirit from a game of tag in the yard, a bike ride around the neighborhood or an after-dinner walk.
Encouraging an active lifestyle will have numerous benefits as your child grows up. Physically active kids have higher levels of fitness, lower body fat and stronger bones and muscles. Physical activity also has brain health benefits for school-aged children, including improved cognition and reduced symptoms of depression.
Expert Care is Here When You Need It
You take care of your family every day. But when you need professional help, know that we’re with you every step of the way with medical expertise and heartfelt compassion. Learn more about our children’s care here.