Healthy Eating for Kids: Teaching Your Child to Eat Healthy in a Fast Food World

Nine: Other Factors That Go Along With Healthy Eating

This chapter will include other ideas parents can do for their children along with eating healthy. The ideas consist of exercise, rest, and getting regular checkups. It is necessary for children to exercise as well as the parents. Children need at least an hour of physical activity per day. It can be done all at one time, or broken up throughout the day. Exercise enhances emotional well-being and energy levels, and reduces blood pressure. Children under two years old should focus on movement versus technology, because exercise stimulates brain growth and cognitive performance. Children over two years old should have only two hours of technology use, which includes television, computer, and video games. Parents can take walks with their children, especially after meal times. Take an extracurricular class with children such at Tai Chi or Yoga. Bike riding is also fun to do with your family while exploring different bike trails. As a child, I used to play baseball in the backyard with my parents and sibling. It was fun and memorable, not to mention it involved exercise. It doesn’t matter what you do, just get moving.

Rest is crucial for children’s learning and growth and development. Infants need at least 14-18 hours of sleep per day. Babies typically have three naps and drop to two at around 6 months old, at which time (or earlier) they are physically capable of sleeping through the night. 1-3 year olds receive about 12-14 hours per day. As your child moves past the first year toward 18-21 months of age, they will likely lose their morning nap and only nap once a day. While toddlers need 14 hours a day of sleep, they typically get only about 10. 3-6 year olds have 10-12 hours per day. Children at this age usually go to bed between 7 and 9 and wake up around 6 and 8 am. At 3, most are still napping, while at 5, most are not. Naps gradually become shorter as well. 7-12 years old should receive 10-11 hours per day. At these ages, with school and family activities, bedtimes gradually become later such as 9 or 10 p.m. 12-18 years old have about 8-9 hours per day. Sleep for teenagers is just as important as when they were younger. It is extremely important for their health and well-being (http://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/sleep-children).

Regular checkups are necessary for children because they help prevent sickness and disease. For example, all children need their immunization shots. Shots begin when children are babies and continue until high school. Your children’s doctor should keep you updated on this information. Children should also have regular physicals. The physical should consist of checking out the children’s heart, lungs, blood pressure, height, weight, hydration, and now diabetes.

Going to the dentist is also very important for children as well. Children should start going to the dentist when they turn one years old, then continue to go to the doctor every six months. Children also need fluoride, because it protects and strengthens their teeth. They should brush and floss their teeth 3 times per day or after each meal. Try to avoid drinks that stain the teeth like coffee, juices, and soft drinks. By the way, tooth decay causes repeated ear, nose, and throat infections. The bacteria that causes tooth decay is also contagious. Children have tooth decay five times more than any childhood illness, including asthma, and in total miss 51 million hours of school due to tooth decay (http://www.mcmillencenter.org/ahf).