Healthy At Any Age

A child’s health is quite possibly the most important issue parents will encounter. Keeping children healthy can also seem like an almost overwhelming and impossible task for parents raising a child for the first time.

Rushing their child to the doctor after every single sniffle or warm forehead is a habit many mothers can relate to, but how do parents know what they should be doing? A comfortable relationship with your child’s healthcare professional is important, as is keeping up with well baby and well child visits to prevent problems and illnesses.

TulsaKids asked Dr. J. Dewayne Geren, a family practice doctor, board certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Family Practice, to provide answers to commonly asked questions parents have about their children’s health at different stages of life. Dr. Geren practices at SouthCrest Hospital.


TK: Do babies need all their immunizations at once?
DR. G: Most immunizations are gradually given over the first 5 – 6 years.

If parents have questions about immunizations, they should check with their child’s healthcare professional, or they can contact the Tulsa City-County Health Department about immunizations at 582-9355 or visit

TK: Do babies need vitamin supplements if one is exclusively breast/formula fed?
DR. G: Breastfed babies may require vitamin D and fluoride. Formula-fed infants may require fluoride.

TK: When should babies start eating solid foods?
DR. G: Formula-fed babies at 4 months and breastfed at 6 months. Talk to your child’s physician about introducing solid foods.

The AAP recommends that an infant not be started on solid foods until after 6 months of age.

Many pediatricians still start babies on solids around 4 months of age.
For all ages and stages up to 12 months.

CEREALS: Rice and Oatmeal cereals are the least of the allergenic grains and thus most babies are started out with those cereals.

FRUITS: May be served raw after 8 months old – bananas and avocados do NOT need to be cooked ever

VEGGIES: Always serve cooked until after 12 months old or when baby can chew well enough so that no choking hazard is present.

PROTEIN: Always serve cooked with no pink areas – NEVER give a small baby/child raw meat or fish

DAIRY: NEVER replace breast milk or formula until after 12 months of age – serious health risks are possible.

Never give a child under the age of 2yrs. old low fat or skim milk products; whole milk is necessary.

Four to Six (4-6) Months old

Try mixing together the foods that you have already introduced without allergies or reactions. Rice Cereal mixed with Bananas for example.

CEREALS: Rice, Barley, Oat

FRUITS: Apples, Bananas, Pears, Avocado

VEGGIES: Sweet Potatoes, Acorn/Butternut Squash, Green Beans




TK: How can you tell the difference between strep and a sore throat?
DR. G: Positive Strep test or cultures done by a health care professional can identify strep.

TK: Are there foods parents shouldn’t be feeding preschoolers?
DR. G: Popcorn and peanuts should be avoided due to choking risk.
According to, “Depending on his or her age, an active preschooler’s energy needs rival those of some grown women. While there’s no need to track a youngster’s calorie consumption, it is important to make calories count.

A young child’s eating plan should consist mostly of healthy foods, such as lean meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, and legumes; whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread and cereals; at least two servings of dairy foods daily; and fresh or lightly processed fruits and vegetables.”

Try these nutritious and delicious snack options for your preschooler:

  • 1/2 sandwich
  • Well-cooked vegetables and low-fat dip
  • Whole grain crackers and cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Milk
  • Chopped hard-boiled eggs or scrambled eggs
  • Dry cereal; cereal with milk


AGES 5-7

TK: Is there anything parents can do to help children learn and focus in school?
DR. G: It is important that children have regular meals, adequate sleep, and that teachers and parents communicate reasonable expectations.

TK: How can parents know if their child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?
DR. G: Symptoms must be present in two settings for at least 6 months prior to age 7 and all other rule-outs must be considered. Parents who have concerns should talk to their child’s physician.

TK: Should children have their cholesterol checked?
DR. G: No.

TK: Do children at this age need vitamins?
DR. G: They need a well-balanced diet including dairy products.

TK: How much outdoor play should children this age be getting?
DR. G: Daily outdoor play.

AGES 8-12

TK: How can sports injuries be prevented?
DR. G: Proper conditioning and proper equipment can help prevent sports-related injuries.

TK: What should parents be telling their 8-12 about body development?
DR. G: Discuss body changes that children are about to experience, and explain why these changes are normal.

Proper Training

Young athletes need proper training for sports. They should be encouraged to train for the sport rather than expecting the sport itself to get them into shape. Many injuries can be prevented if youths follow a regular conditioning program with incorporated exercises designed specifically for their chosen sport.

A well-structured, closely supervised weight-training regimen may modestly help youngsters prepare for athletic activities. Young athletes should have their coaches help them design a conditioning program suited to their needs.

Children and teens often experience some discomfort with athletic activity. Their bones and muscles are growing, and their level of physical activity may increase with a sudden, intense interest in sports, so some aches and pains can be expected.

Still, their complaints always deserve careful attention. Some injuries, if left untreated, can cause permanent damage and interfere with proper physical growth.

Whether an injury is acute or due to overuse, a child who develops a symptom that persists or that affects his or her athletic performance should be examined by an orthopaedic surgeon. A child should never be allowed or expected to “work through the pain.”

Signs that warrant a visit to an orthopaedic surgeon include:

  • Inability to play following an acute or sudden injury
  • Decreased ability to play because of chronic or long-term complications following an injury
  • Visible deformity of the athlete’s arms or legs
  • Severe pain from acute injuries which prevent the use of an arm or leg


TK: What vaccines for teens should parents know about?
DR. G: Gardasil (HPV4), Tdap and MCV4. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) three new vaccines have been recommended for adolescents by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) since 2005: meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4; 1 dose), tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap; 1 dose), and quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV4; 3 doses). ACIP also recommends that adolescents should receive recommended vaccinations that were missed during childhood.

TK: How much sleep do teenagers need?
DR. G: Teens should be getting at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night.

Parents should contact their family doctor if they have any concerns about the health of their children at any age. If parents currently do not have a family physician, they can get more information about getting one by calling SouthCrest at (918) 294-4000, or visiting

Categories: Health