Child health has long focused on just Pediatrics, without much thought to the other factors which make for a healthy child. Adults lavish a lot of attention on their fitness and nutrition, and mental health and other health issues, but traditionally little attention is given to the special needs of children pertaining to nutrition, diet, fitness and other factors.
- Childhood Obesity
- Child Health
- Research on Healthy Kids
Health, Fitness & Safety Issues for Kids
Your child's health includes physical, mental and social well-being. Most parents know the basics of keeping children healthy, like offering them healthy foods and making sure they get enough sleep, but there's more to it than that. Health needs change from infancy up through the teen years, and science is just beginning to catch up on the special requirements of each age group. Growth charts are an important tool for monitoring children's development, but they are just one of the tools used to ensure a child is healthy and developing normally.
Nutrition and Eating
It is important to establish good eating habits. Mealtimes which expose children to wholesome foods and a create an interesting eating environment are also shown to exemplify the importance of good nutrition and in developing healthy eating habits. Children have nutritional needs which are different from adults.
Exercise and Activity
Fitness that starts in childhood is a lifelong investment. Studies have shown that children who participate in fitness activities continue to stay active throughout their lives. Developing the habit of fitness promotes healthful behaviors, improves self-esteem, and decreases the risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease and stroke. In addition, regular physical activity at any age helps your child to have fun while meeting the needs of staying fit.
As children develop, so do their physical skills. Children ages 4 and 5 play in an increasingly coordinated manner and can participate in organized games. Four and five year olds can roll large balls, play catch and may be able to navigate a bike with training wheels. However, children this age cannot safely maneuver a bicycle in areas where there is traffic because they lack judgment and safety awareness as well as coordination skills. Swimming is an excellent fitness activity and teaches a valuable skill. Other fitness activities they may enjoy include dance, skiing or skating. As they grow older, they will be able to participate in an increasingly wider variety of activities and sports.
Part of committing your child to fitness may include limiting your own excessive computer or television time, as well as becoming a role model by getting regular exercise on your own or with your children.
Another big concern with children is safety. Small fingers can get easily caught in playground equipment, and wheeled objects (such as tricycles, bicycles or in-line skates) can promote sudden twists or falls. When engaging in family fitness outings, keep these tips in mind:
- All children must wear helmets when on wheeled vehicles. Establishing this habit early is vital.
- Watch while children cross streets; even if your child has been instructed to "look both ways," kids engrossed in a neighborhood game can easily dash after a ball without thinking.
- Safety is a particular concern when it comes to water sports. It takes very little time for a child to slip beneath the water.
- Always apply sunscreen when playing outdoors, even on overcast days.
Medical Checkups & Doctor Visits
It is also important for children to get regular checkups with their pediatrician. These visits are a chance to check a child's development. They are also a good time to catch or prevent problems. Among other things, school-age children should be seen for:
- Significant weight gain or loss
- Sleep problems or change in behavior
- Fever higher than 102
- Rashes or skin infections
- Frequent sore throats
- Breathing problems
It is unfortunate that childhood offers no protection against mental illness. In the US, one in five children and adolescents suffer from mental health problems at any given time. The key to handling these childhood disorders is for parents to recognize the problem and seek appropriate treatment. The causes of mental illness in children are complex and seldom due to a single factor. As with other types of illnesses, mental disorders have specific diagnostic criteria and treatments, and a complete evaluation by a child psychiatrist is crucial to determine whether a child needs help.
What you can do...
Find out more about raising healthy children, contact Dr. Visser and Simply H today!