We know it all too well – ingredients we can’t pronounce, nutritional facts we don’t understand and the guilt of a lazy Sunday. Raising healthy children means creating a positive environment that supports hearty choices. It isn’t always easy, but the sooner you start, the better.
Unload some of that pressure and cut yourself a break by focusing on the basics with the “9-5-2-1-0-B” tips to keep your kids healthy.
- 9 hours of sleep – Stick to a routine that includes switching off electronics at least one hour before bedtime. Consider a relaxing bath, reading or singing to wind your kids down. A good night’s rest leads to improved attention, behavior and learning habits.
- 5 food groups – Try to eat meals as a family and focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. Proper nutrition leads to good health, growth and development.
- 2 hours of screen time – Less is more! Consider creating a media plan - keep electronics in a central location and turn them off completely during meal times. Try to replace a screen time activity with a hike, bike ride, coloring, painting or family board games.
- 1 hour of physical activity – Regular opportunities for recreation and physical activity are essential for good health and growth. So make it fun and join your children by swimming, dancing, gardening and more!
- 0 sugary drinks – Replace a sugary beverage with water or milk. If you are serving juice, make sure it is 100% fruit juice. Make drinking water fun by adding cucumber, lemon, natural fruit or fun-shaped ice cubes.
- Breastfeeding – Breast milk is the best food for infants because it provides the right balance of nutrients and even passes along mom’s antibodies to baby, which minimizes their chances of getting sick. Consider breastfeeding for a full year, or for as long as you can.
Focusing on these basics will benefit your kids’ overall health. Consult with your pediatrician if you have any questions about your child’s wellbeing. Visit Communities for Healthy Kids at communitiesforhealthykids.org for more tips and advice that benefit the wellness of your little ones.
Article by Simran Kaur, MPH, Community Health Specialist, Valley Children’s Healthcare
This article originally appeared in the July edition of Central California Parent Magazine.