A Balanced, Nutritious Diet
If our kids are junk food addicts, it’s on us. As parents, our job is to provide healthy, balanced options at mealtimes as well as throughout the day. And instilling healthy eating habits that foster growth and development early on will go a long way in promoting a healthy relationship with food. Not sure where to start? A great rule of thumb is to represent each food group at meals (dairy, protein, fruits/vegetables, and whole grains), giving your child the option to eat what they choose. For snacks, combine 2 food groups, such as a cheese stick with an apple, or peanut butter on toast. If your kids are picky, bring them grocery shopping with you to choose healthy foods they’d like to try, and involve them in meal preparation. Most of all, encourage rather than force your kids to try new foods, and keep trying. It often takes repetitive exposure to a new food before a child will embrace it.
Our bodies were made to move. As difficult as it can be to get our kids to put down the electronics of their own initiative, their bodies are literally craving movement. Kids who are active for at least 60 minutes a day will not only be stronger, they’ll have a more positive outlook on life. Fulfilling your child’s daily exercise needs can be as simple as going to the playground, participating in a game of tag, or an after-school soccer or swim class. By making movement fun it becomes something our children want to do, and we can set them up for a lifetime of good health, avoiding serious health issues like diabetes and obesity to boot.
Plenty of Sleep
Sleep, an important component of the “health trifecta,” affects our children’s learning, memory, behavior, mental & physical health. In fact, every single bodily function is optimized by sleep. With sufficient sleep, our kids cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, reproductive, and immune systems are all given a chance to repair, develop, and thrive. On the contrary, getting less sleep needed not only makes our kiddos cranky, it significantly increases their risk of illness and disease. To set your kids up for a solid night of sleep, turn off the electronics 30 minutes to an hour before bed to read together and discuss what you’re grateful for each day.
Sleep Recommendations by age from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
-Infants to 4 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
-Children 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
-Children 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
-Children 6-12 years: 9-12 hours Teenagers 13 to 18 years: 8-10 hours