As we welcome the new year, it is important for parents to ensure their little ones are leading a healthy, active, well-rounded lifestyle. While we know the health and safety of your children is foremost in your mind, it is equally important for parents to take care of themselves. Food preferences are usually developed early on in life, so if your children aren’t already following a balanced diet and incorporating positive daily routines, now is a great time to get started.
Here are five tips to help your kids develop and maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
1. Don’t Skip Breakfast
A balanced breakfast is a great way to start the day. We know mornings can get hectic, but breakfast can help your kids be more focused throughout the day. And, by adding protein, they will stay fuller longer.
Greek yogurt, peanut butter on whole-grain toast or egg sandwiches with fruit are quick, yet healthy meals to offer your children. If you have time to sit down and enjoy breakfast together, that’s even better, but if that isn’t an option, always make sure they have something healthy in their stomachs before starting the day.
2. Cut Back on Sweets
Having a sweet treat every once in a while isn’t the end of the world, but making sweets a reward or daily habit can be harmful to your children. If dessert is a “prize” for finishing a meal, kids will associate ice cream or cupcakes with good habits. Try to stay neutral about foods, rather than adding value to less healthy treats.
Consider swapping out milkshakes for fruit smoothies instead. Blend fat-free or low-fat yogurt, or milk, with fruit pieces and crushed ice. Either fresh or frozen bananas, berries, peaches or pineapple make for a tasty treat, and adding a little peanut butter can also provide some protein.
Fruit popsicles can also be a great alternative treat option. These can be made by putting fresh fruit, like a peeled banana, on a stick and freezing.
3. Set a Good Example
Depending on your child’s age, they may already be picking up on your habits — good and bad — so be a role model when it comes to food and lifestyle choices.
Choose nutritious snacks for yourself and try to be active as often as possible. Fitting in a morning or after-dinner walk with the whole family is a great way to get everyone up and moving. Eating together at the table when possible is another way your child can mimic your good behavior.
4. Limit Screen Time
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, preschool-aged children shouldn’t have more than one hour of screen time per day. Kids who watch a lot of television or are staring at an iPad or phone for long periods of time have a higher risk of developing obesity, insomnia and problems with inattention (such as ADHD).
Research has shown that kids who scale back their TV time have also lowered their body fat, decreasing their risk of obesity. Instead of having a regular family movie night, try a board game or puzzle, some low-intensity stretching or a walk that everyone can enjoy while still exercising minds and bodies.
5. Get Outside and Have Fun
So, your child gets home from school and immediately turns to the TV to unwind and relax. This is a habit many school-aged children get into, but one that can be prevented when fun, outdoor activities are suggested instead.
Get out the sidewalk chalk and create hopscotch or even an obstacle course, depending on the ages of your kids. Bubble wands, T-ball sets and hula hoops are also great, easy activities to have ready for some outdoor time.
If You Have Concerns, We’re Here to Help You Find Answers
Our Health Navigator is available to help answer your pediatric care questions and for everything from finding the best doctor for your family to scheduling office visits.
Accidents Can Happen at Any Time
Start 2021 prepared and well-informed. It’s a busy time of year, and we know accidents can happen. You can rest assured knowing that along with pediatric specialty care, AdventHealth for Children also has a dedicated pediatric emergency department in Celebration, designed with your little one in mind. To learn more, visit AdvenHealthforChildren.com/ER.