Celebrated on the first Monday of October, National Child Health Day spotlights the importance of protecting and developing children’s health. Child Health Day is a collaboration of agencies and organizations that are dedicated to child welfare.
The Health Resources and Services Administration is the lead agency in providing educational resources on various issues involving children, such as child fitness, obesity prevention, and healthy eating choices. The HRSA calls Americans to join forces in providing children a healthy future.
During the celebration, the Maternal and Child Health Library sponsors activities that focus on nutrition and exercise for children. Here are several tips to instill healthy habits in kids at a young age.
- Encourage children to get enough sleep – Most children would play video games or watch TV continuously if they were given the chance to do so. Make sure to limit screen time and encourage kids to retire to bed at an early hour. Children need around 10 hours of sleep at night. Parents should make bedtime enjoyable for children with a healthy bedtime routine that may include bathing, brushing their teeth, and reading.
- Encourage children to eat healthy – Parents should start early, teaching children to make healthy food choices and drink plenty of water. Discourage them from eating junk food, and stock the house with healthy snacks such as sliced fruits or vegetables, cheese, or nuts. If started early, these habits can translate into a lifelong commitment to good eating.
- Teach children sound personal habits – Teach kids the importance of washing hands before eating, after using the restroom, and after wiping their nose. Train children to cover their cough to keep them from spreading illness.
- Keep children away from cigarette smoke – Even second-hand smoke can cause respiratory problems, including asthma. Help children avoid smoky areas and help them commit to avoid smoking themselves.
- Start a healthy vitamin regimen – Children may not be getting all needed nutrients, especially if they are picky eaters. Help them form the habit of taking daily vitamin supplements as recommended by their doctor.
Few things speak louder than example, so make sure to model these healthy living practices in your own life. Your example and encouragement can help start your kids on a path toward optimal lifelong health.