There’s nothing more rewarding than witnessing your child grow up and the milestones that come with it. Whether it’s losing a first tooth or learning how to tie laces, seeing your pride and joy gain a sense of independence is both bittersweet and wonderful. Raising children takes more than just having them inherit your great genes. Here are 10 healthy habits to pass down to your kids as early as now.
1. Drink Water
Have water readily available for your kids anytime, anywhere by packing your kids a water bottle in a fun design or even having one readily available at home. Sweetened beverages like soda or juice are high in sugar and have been linked to many health problems among children today, including obesity. Although you don’t need to eliminate juice packs altogether, pass a glass of water instead to quench your child’s thirst as the first step to developing healthy habits.
2. Have Fruits and Vegetables in Every Meal
Looking for tips for developing children’s healthy eating habits? Prepare meals that are rich in fibre and nutrients such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Adding glow foods will add colour to your meals and brighten an otherwise drab slop of yellows and browns with the colours from leafy greens and citrus brights. Never mind if they don’t touch the kale. Getting them used to seeing veggies on their plates alongside having them on yours will model healthy eating habits that will eventually get your tiny tot eating the same way.
3. Don’t Share Utensils
It’s tempting for your child to take bites out of her bestie’s sandwich or take a swig from someone else’s water bottle, but doing this will only increase the risk of cross contamination of germs and viruses. Sharing is caring, but gently explain that it’s okay only if they pour the drink into another glass or pour out snacks into another bowl instead of having everyone dip their hands in your child’s Goldfish cracker pack.
4. Cover When Sneezing
Teach your little ones to cover their mouths with their shoulders when they sneeze, instead of using their hands, which will only spread the germs to every surface they touch. Have them bring some tissue or a hanky that will come in handy when they sneeze to prevent the spread of potential viruses like a cold or flu. Before you know it, your child will be covering his mouth faster than you can say gesundheit.
5. Limit Screen Time
From education to entertainment, everything today is accessible online. Whether it’s from the TV or tablet, set a limit to your child’s screen time to protect them against eye strain and other adverse effects on brain development. It’s tempting to use YouTube as your nanny while you do the dishes and laundry, but make sure they don’t go beyond 30 minutes of screen time in one go and no more than 2 hours accumulated in a day. Instead, encourage them to replace gaming with this next healthy habit.
6. Physical Activity
Something as simple as a walk around the block or going to the park can benefit your youngin by adding movement to their routine. Sports are also a great way to get them engaged and teach them the value of discipline, goal setting and teamwork. Getting your kids off the couch and moving will also improve circulation, metabolism, and develop motor skills. Whether it’s walking the dog or football practice, regular physical activity is crucial for instilling healthy habits in preschoolers.
7. Frequent Handwashing
This next habit might seem simple but might require more discipline in the case of your little one. Remind your children to wash their hands before meals, after potty time, and first thing when they get home. Make handwashing fun by opting for a foaming handwash or an automatic faucet so they look forward to getting their little hands squeaky-clean.
8. Brush Teeth Twice a Day
Parents who have toddlers know all too well how challenging toothbrush time can be. Invest in an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer or music that stops playing when it’s time to stop brushing. For older children, teach them how to floss so that they can make it a part of their oral care routine.
Misaligned or crooked teeth might be the reason ordinary toothbrushing won’t thoroughly clean kids’ teeth because of harboured bacteria in hard-to-reach areas. Early treatment can prevent a myriad of dental problems such as tooth decay and cavities from a misaligned bite. ClearCorrect offers teens (18 years old and above) a more comfortable and subtle solution to straightening their teeth and spare them from the embarrassment of braces now that they don’t have to worry about being called “metal mouth” in school.
9. Get Enough Sleep
Between school, playdates, and ballet practice, creating a regular sleep schedule for your busy little bees can turn into a bedtime feat. Set a reasonable sleep-wake time and factor in the time it takes to wind your energy bunnies down, so they get the ZZ’s they need to power through the next day.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 10-11 hours for school-aged children between 5-10 years old. Not only will sleep deprivation affect your child’s concentration and performance, it could also affect their immune system making them more prone to catching that bug going around in school.
10. Outdoor Time
Have your children discover the joy of the great outdoors, a rare luxury in today’s modern and technology-dependent world. As they explore the beauty of nature through walks and outdoor play, your child will develop a better sense of being present in the moment IRL. Getting some sun will also boost their fragile immune systems. According to a 2019 study, spending at least 120 minutes a week outdoors can boost health and overall well-being.
Instilling healthy habits in your children isn’t hard, but it does take consistency and practice. The key is to start small, making tiny adjustments to your child’s daily routine that are clear and easy to follow. They say the best way to learn is to teach. Teaching your children to develop healthy habits might even rub off on improving yours too now that the rest of the family is on the journey to wellness.
Blume, C., Garbazza, C., & Spitschan, M. (2019). Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood. Somnologie, 23(3), 147–156.
Matricciani, L., Blunden, S., Rigney, G., Williams, M. T., & Olds, T. (2013). Children’s Sleep Needs: Is There Sufficient Evidence to Recommend Optimal Sleep for Children? Sleep, 36(4), 527–534.