Health Habits You Should Never Skip
If your house is like mine, the overall vibe can often feel more like zoo than zen. Trying to get through the daily routines of life with kiddos is a lot of work. Tack on all your “adulting” responsibilities and no wonder we’re so exhausted. We can feel like we’re running on empty some days. Maybe that means we do a quick dinner of mac and cheese, skip bath time or — dare I say it – not brush teeth right before bed. While it’s not a good idea to make a regular habit of missing these health routines, experts say a skipped day every once in a while isn’t going to make a big difference, except maybe in your sanity.
However, there are some healthy habits you want to make sure not to skimp on. These five habits should be non-negotiable with kids.
1. Using car seats.
More kids are killed as passengers in car accidents than from any other type of injury. Minimize your child’s risk by buckling him up in an age-appropriate car seat every time you get into a car.
How to instill importance: It can be tough for young children to want to stay in their seats, especially if they have older siblings who have moved past a booster. But correct car restraints are vital to keeping everyone safe on the road. Make sure to wear your seatbelt too. We all know that when children see their caregivers model behaviors, they are more likely to do the same.
2. Getting regular checkups.
Keeping immunizations up-to-date is key. But regular pediatrician visits also help ensure that your child is growing properly. Well visits are not just for shots. Doctors can often detect developmental changes that may need treatment.
How to instill importance: Regular checkups also help your children build a relationship with the doctor, which can make visiting their “friend” more fun. Mark it on a shared family calendar on the fridge, so you can count down the days together, or try taking a teddy to the checkup so the doctor can take a quick look at him, too. This helps with anxiety and also models that everyone needs regular checkups!
3. Washing hands.
It’s one of the easiest ways to prevent illness. Teach your kids to wash up after going to the bathroom, before eating, after touching animals, and after playing outside. Keep a stash of sterilizing hand gel or wet wipes in your diaper bag or car to help swab away germs.
How to instill importance: Sprinkle some colored glitter on your child’s damp hands and ask her rub them together. Then have her shake your hand, open the door, or play with some toys. Point out the trail of glitter “germs” that’s left behind. Afterward, ask her to wash her hands with just plain water to see how little of the glitter actually comes off. Children will find they need to use lots of warm water and soap to truly get their hands clean.
4. Finishing off antibiotics.
Even if your child feels better, use the entire course of antibiotics (unless otherwise prescribed by your doctor). If you don’t, the bacteria may not be completely killed, and the infection could return; there’s also the risk of creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
How to instill importance: Make sure to reward medicine taking with a high-five, snuggles and lots of praise. You can talk to your children about how important it is that they take all their medicine so we can make sure they get better and stay better.
5. Wearing sunscreen.
Using sunscreen daily on your kids protects them against severe sunburns that can cause skin cancer later and also helps create a lifelong habit. Be vigilant during the hours when the sun is directly overhead, and don’t forget that kids get burned on cloudy days too.
How to instill importance: When playing outside, using sunscreen should be as natural to your kiddos as putting on their shoes before heading out the door. Talking about the “ouchy” of sunburns can be motivation enough, but incorporating sunscreen into your own daily readiness routine can also have a big impact on your little one.