With the kids back in school, runny noses and fevers will soon become a constant presence, but that’s not to say that there aren’t things you can do to help keep your kids healthier as the weather starts to turn.
Recently we spoke to Dr. Jennifer Rich of the 6-year-old Peconic Pediatrics, which sees over 3,500 patients annually. Dr. Rich provided the following five tips to keep your kids healthy this fall.
Children Need Sleep
Children need their sleep, said Dr. Rich, adding that sleep is key to keeping your kids healthy.
“Sleep is important because if children don’t get enough rest, they are more vulnerable in terms of illness — lack of sleep lowers the immune response,” she said.
And that’s not all, children who get enough sleep also have less behavioral problems and get better grades, says Dr. Rich.
To help your kids get enough sleep, Dr. Rich recommends a good bedtime routine and ensuring that school age children get a minimum of 9 hours of sleep.
Dr. Rich says diet is directly related to susceptibility to colds, and that’s why she tells parents they need to ensure that their children are eating healthy. Of course kids need their fair share of fruits and veggies, but she also recommends that parents pack all of their children’s lunches.
“School lunches are getting better, but they still offer a lot of junk. By packing a lunch you have more control over your children’s diets,” said Dr. Rich.
Dr. Rich also suggested that children start their day off with a healthy breakfast.
Wash Your Hands
While there is controversy over too much hand-washing because some bacteria is needed to build up immunities, Dr. Rich said it is still important to use soap and water and also hand sanitizers, especially if your children are in school where viruses spread quickly.
The most common cause of headaches and stomachaches among children who participate in sports is mild dehydration, says Dr. Rich, who recommends that parents ensure that their children are drinking enough water during the day.
She also mentions that children who don’t drink enough tend to have less energy.
Check-In With Your Kids
Finally, Dr. Rich adds that mental health is just as important as physical health, and that’s why she recommends checking in on your kids.
“Kids have a lot of pressure in school, so you need to check in on them,” says Rich, who mentions children in third grade start to feel more pressure since they are required to start taking state tests.
“You want to make sure your kids love learning and are excited to learn and aren't scared of learning because of state tests,” said Dr. Rich.
With older kids, she said, you will want to make sure your kids are making friends and are not being bullied.
Photo: Flickr | Liz West