Although children are prone to catching illnesses, there are steps you can take to ensure they stay as fit and healthy as possible; these are outlined below:
Benefits of a good diet
Having a healthy diet can dramatically reduce the likelihood of becoming ill and catching infections. Try to encourage your child to try a variety of different foods from an early age; this will foster good eating habits for the future and reduce the likelihood of them being fussy. Try to teach your child about food early on; you can make this fun by letting them help you in the kitchen by preparing and cooking food together; it is important that they know about the benefits of healthy eating, as this will increase the chances of them eating well and enjoying good health in later life.
A good diet
A healthy diet should be varied and balanced; this means eating foods from all the major food groups.
Fruit and vegetables
Your child’s diet should principally contain fruit and vegetables and complex carbohydrates; fruit and vegetables are essential for boosting the immune system and fighting infections; in addition to this they contribute to healthy skin, loose joints and good eyesight to name just a few advantages. If you are finding it difficult to get your child to eat fruit and vegetables try to make dinnertimes more fun by making the food look more interesting or introducing new healthy treats such as fruit smoothies.
Complex carbohydrates are important for keeping your child energised; they release energy slowly and help with concentration and focus; examples of these foods include bread, cereals, rice and pasta. It is beneficial to give your child whole grain foods as these are healthier for the heart. Simple carbohydrates, which are commonly high in sugar, provide a quick sugar rush but should be eaten in moderation; too much sugar can lead to weight gain and is harmful for dental health.
Protein is essential for growth and development of the muscles and the repair and maintenance of the body’s cells; it is important that your child has protein to ensure they grow fully and their muscles develop properly. Examples of protein rich foods include fish, eggs and meat.
Fats are needed by the body to transport certain minerals around the body; however you should monitor your child’s fat intake closely. You should take care to limit the intake of saturated fats as they cause high cholesterol which can contribute to heart disease and strokes in later life. Saturated fats are common in fried and fast food; these foods are also high in calories and can cause weight gain and contribute to obesity. Try to eat unsaturated fats, such as those contained in oily fish, nuts and avocadoes.
Calcium is important for the development of strong teeth and bones. Children should drink at least 1 pint of whole milk for the first 18 years of life to ensure their bones, teeth and nails are strong and healthy. Other calcium rich foods include cheese and yoghurts. Children with lactose intolerance may benefit from having soya based products.
It is important to teach your child the benefits of exercise from an early age. Research has consistently shows that exercise significantly reduces the likelihood of becoming ill as well as improving physical appearance, reducing stress and building new relationships. For children, exercise can be extremely fun and can keep them fit and healthy. There are a large number of activities on offer to children in most communities, which they can participate in in addition to their school P.E lessons; these include swimming, gymnastics, cycling, dance, football, trampolining, skateboarding and martial arts to name just a few. Your child will be able to make new friends and develop a sense of achievement and ambition; exercise also builds self-esteem and contributes to a good night’s sleep.
Children need sleep to ensure they grow and develop fully. Small babies sleep for up to 16 hours each day and the amount of sleep a child needs decreases as they grow up. School age children (4-16) should sleep for at least 8-10 hours each night. Children who do not sleep well may struggle to concentrate and may be overly emotional and irritable.
Children’s health can be largely dependent on the environment in which they grow up. Try to keep your house as clean and dust-free as possible; this will help to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold which will reduce the likelihood of your child getting ill. If your child is going out, ensure they are wrapped up warm and have a waterproof layer to prevent them getting wet; this will reduce the possibility of them catching a cold. Try to keep your home as safe as possible; this may include installing stair gates or making sure sharp corners are covered and passageways and staircases are clear of obstructions; this will reduce the possibility of your child being involved in an accident.
Children can also suffer from conditions that are not all that common and this can be a very worrying time for parents. When faced with a condition that they are not aware of parents can experience a great level of strain. Uncommon conditions could include something like excessive hair or mumps. At such a young age your child would be unable to have treatment like laser hair removal if it is excessive hair they are suffering from due to their age, but by getting in contact with health professionals, understanding the problem enables you to take one step toward solving the problem.