For parents, or caregivers and kids – work, school, sports, homework, holidays and the rest, means we always seem to be busy. Succeeding in keeping up with it all requires a good healthy foundation, and this can seem quite challenging at times. Here are some things parents / caregivers can do to encourage healthy habits in their kids’ lives.
1. Encourage Physical Activity
In the summer, it’s easier for children to find opportunities to be active. However, in winter it may be challenging to fit in the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous daily activity for kids. Whether it’s a family walk or cycle after dinner, a weekend game of football at the park, or signing your kids up for indoor physical activities like gymnastics, martial arts and dance—look for ways that both you and they have extra opportunity and incentive to move around. This can include all forms of activity such as physical education, active travel, after-school activities, play and sports.
2. Getting Enough Sleep
Running low on sleep can lead to a variety of problems, including being tired and irritable during the day. According to The Sleep Council (1) in the UK, 24% of teachers in a survey reported that they had allowed a child to sleep in a classroom during lessons and 48% said lack of sleep made children unruly and badly behaved.
Below is a general guide to the amount of sleep children need per night, but more important than the quantity of sleep, is the quality. Leading UK doctors have advised having no electronics devices in the bedroom.
The NHS(2) advises that children under the age of 2 years have no screen time at all and for 3 & 4-year olds to have a maximum of I hour per day. Screen use stimulates the brain and can interfere with sleep making it harder to get to sleep and stay asleep.
3. Mind Those Pearly Whites
As oral health serves as a barometer of sorts for general health, it is vital that we look after our teeth, especially when we are young, as developing good dental hygiene habits early, will serve us well throughout our lifetime.
According to UK Government(3) statistics:-
- Around a quarter of 5-year olds have tooth decay, affecting on average 3 – 4 teeth
- Tooth decay is the most common reason for hospital admissions for 5 – 9-year olds
- On average, children miss 3 days of school due to dental problems
- 38% of children experience problems sleeping due to toothache
- The average cost to the NHS for a hospital extraction for a child aged under 5 is £836
- It costs the NHS £7.8m per annum for tooth extractions for the under 5s
How to look after your children’s teeth(4)
- Reduce their consumption of food and drink containing sugars
- Teach young children how to brush their teeth properly
- Brush teeth last thing at night before bed and one other time during the day
- Use fluoride toothpaste
- Visit your dentist regularly – NHS dental care is free for children
4. Prepare A Proper Diet
The UK is dealing with an obesity problem in children. Studies link this to a variety of issues, including lower amounts of physical activity and lifestyle changes. However, one simple way you can make an impact is changing what food you buy. 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. A great example of this is * Enzymedica’s Kids Digest™ . Kids Digest uses enhanced enzymes to help support the digestive system as it breaks down foods. This combination minimises indigestion symptoms both at home and on the go.
5. Combat Cold-Weather Sickness
Mixing with lots of kids at school, at play, outdoors and at sporting activities, is the perfect recipe for spreading colds and other illnesses, especially in the winter months. However, boosting your child’s immune system can help them avoid days off school and house-wide illnesses. A healthy diet, regular handwashing and considering supplementing with Vitamin C can all be great ways to stay well. One of the main winners here is Vitamin C, as it’s an important component of immune cells. This can be found in many citrus fruits, so consider adding some fresh-squeezed fruits to your children’s morning breakfast. Strawberries and papayas are also good sources. Healthy proteins and vitamin E are other common nutrients good for immune support. Also consider using herbal ingredients like ginger or garlic. Not only are they great flavour enhancers for your food, but they can also help support the immune system with added flavonoids and antioxidants.
Which one of these ideas will make the most difference in your household? It is always easier to make gradual changes and will probably lead to higher success rates in the long run.
*Food Supplements should not be used as a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle. If you have any serious medical conditions, you should consult a doctor before use.