Tips for Staying Healthy
Is your family getting enough? Lack of sleep can affect your child’s attentiveness, social behavior and schoolwork. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends the following amounts of sleep, based on age group:
- 4 to 12 months — 12 to 16 hours
- 1 to 2 years — 11 to 14 hours
- 3 to 5 years — 10 to 13 hours
- 6 to 12 years — 9 to 12 hours
- 13 to 18 years — 8 to 10 hours
Things that can help you get your zzzz’s: Set bedtimes, even for older kids, and establish routines such as sitting down to a family dinner, reading before bed and limiting access to screens.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
A healthy diet including fresh fruits and vegetables can help boost your family’s immune system. Include a fresh fruit and vegetable at one meal each day. Introduce your children to a variety of fruits and vegetables by letting them explore the produce department at the grocery store. If children are introduced to a variety of foods at a young age, they are more likely to try different foods as they grow older.
Hearing – In the first few years of life, hearing plays an important role in a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development. When caught early, ideally by the time a baby is 3 months old, manyhearing problems can be treated. Parents can seek guidance from their pediatrician concerning hearing issues. The Mary K. Chapman Center for Communicative Disorders at The University of Tulsa provides free speech-language and hearing tests. For an appointment, call 918.631.2504.
Vision – Eye exams for children are extremely important because, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA), 5 to 10 percent of preschoolers and 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems. The AOA recommends infants have their first eye exam at 6 months of age and children should have additional eye exams at age 3 and just before they enter the first grade and every two years following if no vision correction is required. To have your infant’s eyes examined free of charge, go to www.infantsee.org.
According to the Center for Disease Control, seasonal flu vaccines protect against the three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Flu viruses change year to year so it is important to get the shot each year. The flu shot is safe for children 6 months or older.
Hand washing is by far the best way to prevent germs from spreading and to keep your children from getting sick. During a typical day a child’s hands touch everything from playground equipment to shared crayons to the family dog. When they touch their hands to their face, nose or mouth they immediately come into contact with germs. By washing hands, children can lower their risks to being exposed to every cold or virus making its rounds at school or at home. To encourage your children to wash their hands at home, make it easy for them to reach the sink by placing a step stool by the sink. Also, buy fun soaps and hand scrubbers. And, make hand washing a part of their routine before eating a meal or after using the bathroom.
Vaccines play a vital role in preparing a child’s body to fight illness. Vaccines give you immunity to a disease before it has the opportunity to get you sick. The risks of vaccinations are small compared to the health risks linked to the diseases they are intended to prevent. You can get a list of vaccination requirements for school attendance in Oklahoma through your family doctor or by visiting www.tulsa-health.org.
A daily dose of fresh air and sunshine, even during the winter months, can be invigorating. By incorporating positive physical activities such as walking, biking or swimming, into your family’s daily routine, children will continue to follow the example and pursue physical activities as they get older. Take a family walk around the block after dinner. Encourage your child to walk the dog or play outside for a while after school and before homework time. Physical activity will help your child relax and concentrate.
Every preschooler should know his or her full name and parents’ names, their home address and how to dial 911. Also, children should learn their home phone number and at least one of their parents’ cell phone numbers. You can unplug a phone and do pretend situations where the child dials 911 on the phone and recites his or her name and address.