While everyone appreciates the services of a good pediatrician or family doctor, most of us would prefer?not?to have to take our kids to the doctor’s office if we can help it. No one likes a sick kid, and costs of going in for every sore throat can really add up. The following are some strategies you can follow at home to keep kids healthy throughout the year, and save the whole family money.
Probably the most important strategy for keeping kids out of the doctor’s office is establishing a rigorous handwashing routine for home and school–and that goes for parents as well. We tend to think of cold and flu viruses being transmitted by sneezes or by direct contact with an infected person, but it’s worth remembering that these viruses can survive on many surfaces that an infected person may touch, including doorknobs, computer keyboards, phones, tables, counters, and desks. Washing hands regularly with soap and warm water, especially during and after school and before and after activities or meals, is one of the best ways to prevent transmission of these viruses, and the misery and sickness that goes along with them.
We all need sleep, and children need a lot more than adults. It is recommended that preschoolers (ages 3-5) get 11-13 hours a night, and school-age children get 10-11 hours a night. Sleep is essential for maintaining health and well-being, and for ensuring children’s proper growth and development. It has an important restorative function for the brain, allowing the removal of waste-products built up during the day. Children who have adequate sleep are less prone to illness, more alert, happier, and more able to learn. It is important to establish a good sleep routine for children, which includes a regular bedtime, quiet, non-electronic activities before bed, and no TV in the bedroom.
Make sure kids are getting the right vitamins and minerals. Provide healthy, balanced meals and make sure sugary and salty snacks are kept to a minimum. A contact lenses provide in Calgary, Dr. Bishop & Associates, says kids should be getting vitamin C and calcium every day to ensure good eye and immune system health as well.
Especially in the dry winter months, good hydration is essential for maintaining children’s health. Make sure that kids have access to water and drinks at school, and send a water bottle with them if it’s allowed. Emphasize water, milk and juice, and avoid sugary fruit drinks or sodas, and especially ones with caffeine. Keep kids’ rooms adequately moist at night with a cool mist humidifier, but make sure to follow instructions for cleaning it regularly.
Physical exercise is another key to helping children stay healthy. Try to ensure that kids get outside to play for at least a half hour to an hour each day. Organized or informal sports can be a great way to provide exercise opportunities. If you’re stuck inside on a snowy day, try physical games like Twister or Simon Says, or have an impromptu dance contest.
No set of strategies can ensure perfect health. But following these will go a long way toward keeping kids healthy and out of the doctor’s office, except for the annual check-up.
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