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The moment you become a parent, life is filled with concerns and difficult choices 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, AdventHealth Family Medicine Avon Park is here to support your family through every age and stage with comprehensive care and important health information.
Read on expert recommendations you can incorporate into your family life that will support your child’s healthy development in body, mind and spirit.
We Nurture 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 your pregnancy can help with everything from genetic testing to high-risk referrals, and much 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 good-fit pediatrician.
Lean On Your Child’s Physician
Your family’s primary care physician will meet your baby in their very first days of life. From then on, they’ll be your trusted guide for every checkup, milestone, vaccination and runny nose.
It’s important to find a doctor your family feels comfortable with. Fostering open communication with your provider from the start can help you stay ahead of potential issues. That way you can quickly identify and treat injuries and illnesses that may arise as partners in your child’s health.
You might only think to call your child’s physician 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 their primary care physician 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 signs to look for here.
Create Healthy Eating Habits
A healthy weight and positive relationship with food are two key components of long-term wellness. Eating a nutritious and balanced diet may come naturally to your family — or it may be a struggle from day one.
Here are some tips for supporting your child’s nutrition and a healthy weight:
Discuss BMI With Your Physician
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, gender and height and to have a discussion with your primary care physician. Try our simple online calculator here.
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 in advance. When kids are involved in choosing the meals, they’re more likely to try new foods, even 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 Meals Together
If kids are involved in planning and buying food, it’s only natural to teach them how it’s made. Cooking together also provides opportunities to show children where food comes from and how it’s 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 you can find the freshest, most natural foods and produce.
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 Role Model
Your kids are watching what you buy, cook and eat. Try new foods together, even if you’re skeptical. The idea is to make small yet consistent steps in the right direction every day.
Encourage an Active Lifestyle
Technology makes it easy to get too comfortable being 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 ages 6 to 17 years old should get at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity every day.
The good news is that 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 has numerous benefits as your child grows. Physically active kids have higher fitness levels, 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 in every way. But when you need professional help, know that AdventHealth Family Medicine Avon Park is with you every step of the way with compassion you can feel and experience you can trust.