With school time officially here, and summer continuing to blaze away it can be a time of increasing study, social and sporting demands for children.  This can be an extremely busy season for both parents/caregivers and kids. Succeeding at keeping up with it all requires a good healthy foundation, and you’re in the best position to make this happen. Here are some things parents/caregivers can do to encourage healthy habits in their kids’ lives.

Prepare A Proper Diet

High levels of childhood obesity and weight gain in Australia children have become a major national concern. Studies link this to a variety of issues, including lower amounts of physical activity and lifestyle changes. However, the biggest way you can make an impact is changing up what you’re buying at the grocery store. Cutting down on junk food and processed snacks while building balanced meals with lean meats, green vegetables and fruits is the perfect start.

As an added bonus, changing the diet to include more of these healthy foods can have a positive effect on digestion. For example, getting more fibre in your diet helps you process foods better through your digestive tract—cutting down on digestive discomfort while helping the body absorb nutrients. There are also other ways to support healthy digestion for children, including dietary supplements. Digestive Enzymes in particular help support the digestive system by assisting the break down of all sorts of foods. This minimises indigestion symptoms both at home and on the go.

Encourage Physical Activity

In the holidays, it’s easy for children to find opportunities to be active. With the start of school, increased study load and less free time, it can be challenging to fit in the recommended 60 minutes daily activity for kids. Whether it’s a family walk after dinner, a weekend game of soccer at the park, or signing your kids up for physical activities like gymnastics, martial arts and dance—look for ways that both you and they have an extra opportunity and incentive to move around.

Catch Your Z’s

Running low on sleep can lead to a variety of problems, including being tired and irritable during the day. For kids, it can be especially difficult to make the change from holidays to school-year sleep schedules.

Take care to ensure they’re getting enough sleep and consider a no-electronics wind-down time before bed. Keep in mind that different ages have different sleep needs—a group of 13 experts in sleep medicine came together to create a new set of ideal guidelines after reviewing over 800 published articles (1). Their recommendations are as follows:

• 3-5 years old: 10 to 13 hours per day

• 6-12 years old: 9 to 12 hours per day

• 13-18 years old: 8 to 10 hours per day

Mind Those Pearly Whites

This may be a bit of a surprise to close this article with, but according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare up to one-quarter of children aged 12 years had untreated tooth decay (2). As oral health serves as a barometer of sorts for general health, this incidence of cavities signals a problem. Teach good brushing habits and watch to ensure kids are brushing long enough. As a final note, a lot of getting your children started with healthy habits is leading by example. “Do as I say, not as I do” is not often effective, especially in the area of healthcare. Not to mention, taking some of this advice yourself can lead to a happier and healthier you.

Which one of these ideas will make the most difference in your household? Choose one and run with it to have your best season yet!

References

  1. Paruthi S, Brooks LJ, D’Ambrosio C, Hall WA, Kotagal S, Lloyd RM, Malow BA, Maski K, Nichols C, Quan SF, Rosen CL, Troester MM, Wise MS. Recommended amount of sleep for pediatric populations: a consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. J Clin Sleep Med 2016; 12(6).

  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Canberra. Dental Decay among Australian Children. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/health-conditions-disability-deaths/dental-oral-health/reports (accessed 11 January 2019).
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