Healthy Kids

25 tips from top docs
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1. Screen time: how much is too much?
High levels of screen time are linked to childhood obesity and sleep issues. Screen time is too much when parents notice that screens (TV, computers, tablets, video games, etc.) are chosen before more active play and leisure. Turn off screens at least one hour before nap and bed times.

2. It’s stressful BEING a kid
Kids of all ages are susceptible to stress and anxiety. Pressures at school, high expectations to excel, competitive sports and activities, and busy households all contribute to childhood stress. Stress and anxiety in children may manifest in headaches, sleep difficulty, changes in eating patterns, weight gain or loss, and/or in gastrointestinal complaints. Stress can also look like behavior problems and/or disorganization, resulting in decreased school or performance in other activities. A child may also regress in play, language, or cognitive skills.
To combat stress, kids need supportive, caring and responsive relationships with adults. Like adults, they also need relaxation and rest — a balance between school/work and play.

3. HPV vaccine
The HPV vaccine protects against the most common sexually transmitted infection, the human papilloma virus. The vaccine is given in a series of three shots and is approved for boys and girls starting at age 9. I routinely offer it at age 10 or 11. Children need to be fully immunized prior to becoming sexually active.

4. Immunizations: yes or no?
Yes! Over the past few years, vaccines have been under a lot of scrutiny. The timing of the current vaccine schedule overlaps with the appearance of certain serious diseases such as autism and seizure disorders, so families naturally conclude that vaccines cause it. Multiple studies have shown that this is false. I feel confident in saying that vaccines are safe. The only way to debunk the false idea that they are harmful is to continue to educate the public. I refer families to reputable websites such as AAP.org and CDC.gov.

5. Immune system: the ultimate multi-tasker
Which vaccines are the most important is very difficult to determine since all protect against serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases. I recommend the fastest immunization schedule to protect children at the youngest possible age. It is not possible to overwhelm the immune system. It is the ultimate multi-tasker!

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6. Nutrition: what does my child need?

Parents want to make sure their children are eating enough of the right foods, which include at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily (parents too). Make your own healthy snacks; fresh fruits and vegetables are best.

7. What beverages are healthy choices for my children?
Water is the best beverage. Also, low-fat milk, unsweetened, caffeine-free coffee and tea drinks and small portions (4 ounces or less) of 100 percent fruit juice are good choices. Drinking sugary drinks puts children at risk for being obese and developing diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension and cavities.

8. Soothe a colicky baby
The causes of colic, that unexplained fussiness that occurs within the first three months of life, can vary greatly depending on the infant, but it often stems from dietary or neurological-based issues. Removing dairy or gluten from the mother’s and baby’s diets can alleviate symptoms. A holistic approach to soothing the infant is massaging the infant’s abdomen clockwise using lavender essential oils.

9. Allergies
Approximately 20 percent of all kids have allergies, with three common causes: nutritional, immune and inflammatory factors. Utilizing a program that modifies nutrition, boosts immune function and decreases inflammatory factors is very important to clear up allergies and reduce symptoms. This type of program is also a better option for parents who don’t want to burden their kids with a lifetime fix of medication.

10. Natural supplements: do kids need vitamins?
Ideally, kids (and adults) should get all of their nutrients from foods, including at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Most don’t, so I recommend supplementing with a good kids’ multivitamin, plus an omega 3 for great brain and cardiovascular support. I also recommend adding a probiotic to benefit immunity, skin and gastrointestinal health.

11. Medicine cabinet essentials: good remedies for the common cold
Honey works great in fighting infections for kids over a year old, and adding zinc or vitamin D can lessen the duration of a cold. There are over-the-counter kids’ cough formulas with both of these ingredients. Saline rinses are also a quick and easy remedy. Viruses and bacteria don’t live as long in a humid environment, so using a saline spray, rinse or neti pot can help. A clean, cool-mist humidifier at bedtime or a hot shower can also work.

12. Scaly skin: getting rid of eczema
More kids, toddlers and infants are developing rashes,
particularly eczema, but there are simple treatments.

  • Omega 3s like fish oil can keep the skin healthier and reduce inflammation.
  • Topical steroid creams like hydrocortisone cream can reduce inflammation and clear up acute eczema.
  • Probiotics, or beneficial bacteria like acidophilus, can lessen the risk of developing eczema.

13. Pregnancy advice: moms-to-be are Human too

  • Sleep when you can.
  • Take long walks; exercise is important for a healthy pregnancy.
  • Spend as much quality time alone with your partner as you can.
  • If you need to cry, CRY!
  • If you need to complain, COMPLAIN! You are pregnant, it’s OK.
  • Don’t listen to advice from strangers. Just smile and say “thank you.”
  • You can get pedicures regularly.
  • Dads, if she wants something, get it for her NOW!
  • Pregnancy is hard. Just keep reminding yourself that it’s worth it in the end. It really is.
  • The most important thing to remember when you are pregnant is, if you are worried or concerned, call your doctor. It’s your doctor’s job to answer your questions and ease your mind.

14. Food-friendly tips for healthier kids 
Each child is different and there are no “one-size-fits-all” answers for every child, but the these nutrition tips are appropriate for all kids:

  • Avoid food additives or preservatives, including coloring agents
  • Avoid sugar and do not use artificial sweeteners as substitutes
  • Drink natural teas and waters to flush out the system
  • Avoid common food allergens like wheat and dairy which may exacerbate allergy problems.

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15. Sports safety: playing smart
To participate in sports, it is important to get a sports physical prior to starting. Tips to follow while active: stay hydrated, wear protective gear, warm up before the activity, know the rules, watch out for others, communicate with your teammates and coach, and avoid playing when you are injured. It is better to rest up, heal and play another day. Also, make sure your coach is certified in CPR and knows the symptoms of a concussion injury and overuse injuries.

16. Fitness is fun
Current recommendations indicate kids benefit from one hour per day of age-appropriate exercise. The largest portion of exercise should be aerobic activity like walking, running, bicycling, jumping rope or rollerblading. The next portion, about three days a week, should be to strengthen muscles with exercises like push-ups, sit-ups or calisthenics. The last portion, about three days per week, should be given to bone strengthening activities like hopping, skipping, jumping, running or sports like basketball or tennis. In addition to building strength, increasing health and maintaining an appropriate weight, fitness and exercise provide discipline, self-esteem and confidence.

17. Sleeping safe and sound
How much sleep: Sleep is such an important part of our health. Even for infants, there are studies that show that less than 12 hours of sleep at this age is associated with a higher risk of obesity by preschool age.

  • Sleep position Since the “back to sleep” campaign started in 1994, the overall rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has declined by over 50 percent. It is also important to give infants tummy time to play as well.
  • Baby sleep tips Most babies don’t have regular sleep cycles until they are about 6 months of age. Improve that by making daytime play time and nighttime boring time. Put your child to bed when he or she is tired, but not asleep. Respond slowly. Let your child learn to soothe him or herself back to sleep.
  • Toddler sleep tips Set a routine and be consistent. Let your child have a comfort item like a blanket or a cup of water. Be patient.

18. When can babies have solid foods?
I recommend that solids not be introduced until a baby is 4 to 6 months of age. Contrary to popular myth, feeding solid foods doesn’t make babies sleep longer.

19. Do kids need milk?
Milk, of the cow variety, is considered a superfood by some, but it isn’t perfect. Here’s what parents need to know. Kids can begin drinking cow’s milk around 12 months of age. Toddlers don’t need any more than 16 ounces of milk per day. Milk is a great way to get calcium and vitamin D, but it isn’t the only way. Cheese, yogurt and green, leafy vegetables like kale are good options too. While whole milk was once recommended for kids, the rise in child obesity has shifted the recommendation to low-fat milk.

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20. Curbing obesity
A study by Sarah Anderson in Pediatrics shows that these three behaviors are associated with a 40 percent lower prevalence of obesity:

  • Have a family meal at dinner time six nights per week.
  • Make sure your child gets an adequate night’s sleep (10½ hours on weeknights)
  • Limit screen viewing time to less than two hours per day.

21. How can parents help their kids to be healthier?
Show kids by example. Do jumping jacks in the living room. Be seen reading, or eating an apple. Keep healthy snacks available and eat meals together. Involve your child in decision making from a young age, like picking out healthy foods. Have your child garden with you. A great way to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables is to help them make a connection between what they grow and what they eat. Kids learn by what they see us do, rather than by what we say.

22. Building self-esteem
It is important for parents to help their children learn to see themselves as useful people. We can give our kids jobs that are important for the whole family, like laundering their own clothes and doing the dishes. Kids need to know they are competent; they learn this when they’ve done something well themselves. It takes an investment of time early on to teach them, but it’s good for them, for their families and for their communities.

23. First dental visit
The ideal time to see a dentist for the first time is before the child’s first birthday. This provides an opportunity for the dentist to examine the development of the child’s mouth, to work with you on how to care for your child’s teeth, apply a fluoride treatment and to get them used to seeing the dentist.

24. Keep away tooth decay
Brushing teeth after meals, regular flossing and fluoride are the best ways to prevent decay. Children should be supervised when they brush, then after that, brush the hard to reach areas for them. When the permanent molars erupt, it is important to protect them with sealants. Sealants are a plastic material that seals the uneven biting surface of the back teeth to help keep out the bacteria, sugar, and acid in the pits and grooves.

25. Talk to Your doctor
Always consult your family physician to determine which tips are right for you and your children.

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