Childcare needs to focus on the overall physical and mental development of children. When it comes to maintaining Complete Children’s Health, the three pillars or focus areas should be keeping a healthy weight, correct nutrition, and disease prevention. There are certain measures that parents can implement to ensure that their children do not lack proper care in the three areas mentioned above of concern.
Parents looking for a guide for kids’ health will find the tips discussed here very useful in strengthening the three pillars of good health in children.
What are the main requirements for proper nutrition and healthy eating habits for children?
The kind of food consumed in childhood has a profound effect on the growth and development of children. Healthy eating habits and proper nutrition serve to increase memory, maintain a healthy weight, and prevent serious diseases later in life. Moreover, good eating habits acquired during childhood stay during adult years, thereby maintaining good health possible throughout the life.
In a nutshell, a proper diet is a necessary step for maintaining good overall Kid’s Health.
1) Encouraging healthy eating habits
In the current times, junk foods are easily available, and it is natural for children to get tempted by pizzas, burgers, hot dogs, momos, and other unhealthy food items. Reduce the appeal of junk foods for your child; it is important to make nutritious food appealing to him/her. Healthy habits are crucial for good Children’s Health.
The first step is to cook more at home. In takeaway food outlets, many parents choose the faster and easier option of ordering food. This is a mistake because unhealthy take-out meals adversely affect the health of children. Cooking at home is healthy and prevents junk food from becoming a part of the child’s eating habits.
Making fruits and vegetables as alternatives to unhealthy snacks such as chips is a good way to protect children from getting addicted to unhealthy snacking. Thus, it is important to ensure that there are enough fruits and vegetables available at home all the time. Similarly, replacing soft drinks with healthy beverages such as fruit juice is also imperative to maintain children’s good health.
Healthy foods such as green vegetables might not please the taste buds of children. Thus, health food items can be added to delicious foodstuffs to mask their taste. For example, adding vegetables to meat items is a common exercise to feed vegetables to children. Children should be less exposed to packaged and processed food.
2) Decrease the consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugar
Limiting the number of refined carbohydrates and sugar in the diet is an important measure to maintain good health in the best state.
Refined carbohydrates are present in grains that are devoid of nutrients, bran, and fiber. The food items containing refined carbohydrates are white bread, white rice, pastries, pasta, pizza, white flour, and many more.
There are many harmful effects of refined carbohydrates on health, such as increased blood sugar levels and mood swings. Therefore, children’s diet should instead contain complex carbohydrates rich in fiber and nutrients.
Complex carbohydrates also provide energy for long periods. Food items such as brown rice, multigrain or whole wheat bread, fiber-rich cereals, non-starchy vegetables, fruits, and nuts are replete with complex carbohydrates. Hence, we must add them to the diet of children.
Sugar-rich food items are harmful to children. The natural sugar present easily fulfills the sugar requirements of children in food. Extra sugar consumption leads to obesity, increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and mental issues. Sugar consumption by children should not exceed three teaspoons or 12 grams in a day.
Children should avoid sweetened drinks, soda, and coffee drinks. There are many healthy alternatives to such drinks, such as milk and fruit smoothies, freshly squeezed fruit juices, etc.
3) Healthy and Unhealthy Fat
The types of food in the diet play an important role in determining Complete Children’s Health. Children’s diet should be replete with healthy fat and free of unhealthy fat or trans fat. Healthy fats are split into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are present in olive oil, nuts, avocado, and seeds of pumpkin and sesame. Polyunsaturated fats are present in mackerel, salmon, sardine, walnuts, and flaxseed. These sources of healthy fats should be included in children’s diet.
Unhealthy fats or trans fats are present in candies, cookies, food items made using partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, crackers, fried food items, and baked products. Trans fats are harmful to health, and children need to avoid such foodstuffs.
4) Substitute fast food
Fast food items are delicious, and children and adults alike are tempted by fast food. However, avoiding fast food is an important requirement to maintain children’s healthy perfectly. This is because fast food products contain a negligible amount of nutrients and are high in calories, fats, and sugar.
But it is not possible to make children eat only healthy food all the time. Thus, alternatives to junk food that are tasty and healthier can be given to children once in a while.
Fried chicken can be substituted with baked or grilled chicken, while can replace potato chips with baked vegetable chips. Ice cream is a favorite junk food item for children. Instead of ice cream, children can relish yogurt, fresh fruit smoothies, or sorbet. Pastries or donuts can be replaced with bagels, home-baked goods, or English muffins. French fries are a popular snack among children. Can replace it with healthier baked fries having low salt content.
5) Limit Sodium intake
Sodium, commonly known as salt, is an important mineral because it maintains proper fluid level in the body and is required for the conduction of nerve impulses and muscle function. However, limiting sodium consumption is necessary for good Complete Children’s Health.
This is because excessive sodium intake leads to high blood pressure and a consequent increase in risk factors for heart problems. In addition, a child-eating an excessive amount of salty food tends to develop a preference for salty food, which causes several health problems later in life.
Sodium levels are high in processed and pre-packaged food. Thus, such food items should not be a part of the daily diet of children. Instead, the parents should check the % Daily Value or DV on a food product label. Food products having sodium content below 15% DV can be consumed by children.
Check this table of recommended daily intake of sodium for maintaining Complete Children’s Health in good condition.
- 110 mg/day for children aged 0-6 months
- 370 mg/day for children aged 7-12 months
- 800 mg/day for children aged 1-3 years
- 1000 mg/day for children aged 4-8 years
- 1200 mg/day for children aged 9-13 years
- 1500 mg/day for children aged 14 and above
6) Normalizing health food
Healthy eating habits have a very beneficial effect on a child’s health. Therefore, parents need to encourage their children to adopt healthy eating habits using some tried and tested methods.
Regular family meals should be the norm. The whole family should sit and eat together. Breakfast and dinner should be a family affair every day, while lunch should be family time on weekends and holidays. Eating along with parents and other family members at a particular time every day imbibes a sense of discipline in children.
Moreover, family meals enable parents to interact with their children freely without distractions which help in preventing mental problems in children.
Making healthy foods fun to eat is also a good way to encourage good eating habits in children. Can do this by cutting fruits and vegetables or any other healthy food item into interesting shapes which please the children.
Trying out new healthy food recipes is recommended to prevent children from becoming bored with the same food day after day. Children should also be encouraged to help out in the cooking process to make them feel more involved with healthy food items.
Taking children out shopping for food products is also a good idea. Parents should allow their children to choose fruits and vegetables at the market now and then to arouse their interest.
Storing junk food at home should be avoided. There should be ample fruits instead so that when children crave snacks, they get access to nothing but fruits. A bowl of fruits should always be kept ready. This measure can prevent unhealthy snacking.
These methods go a long way in imbibing healthy eating habits, essential for a child’s health.
7) Lead by example
Children tend to copy their parents and are heavily influenced by the habits of their parents. Thus, parents need to lead by example if they want their children to develop healthy eating habits. Parents cannot expect their children to develop healthy eating behavior while they consume junk food themselves. Parents and their children eating the same kinds of healthy foods encourage them to adopt these eating habits.
How to manage weight correctly to achieve a healthy weight in children?
Healthy weight is very important for properly maintaining Complete Children’s Health. A healthy weight enables a child to avoid health problems later in adult life. Moreover, healthy weight means a fit body that helps in concentrating well in studies and participating in sporting and extracurricular activities. A fit body also enhances self-confidence. There are a lot of ways to maintain a healthy body weight in children.
1) Physical Activity
There is no substitute for physical activity concerning a healthy weight. Children must avoid a sedentary lifestyle and indulge in physical activities for 60 minutes each day. Physical activity for children need not be an intense exercise session of an hour but several short bursts of activities throughout the day, up to 60 minutes.
A child’s health in terms of healthy weight management can be maintained best by encouraging multiple activities of 10 minutes or even 5 minutes till the 60 minutes requirement of the day is met. Younger children can engage in ball games, chasing games, riding swings, seesaws, skipping, slides, and many more. Older children can indulge in swimming, cycling, skating, martial arts, dancing, jogging, running, and more. Children can also walk or cycle to schools and other places instead of using cars or two-wheelers.
2) Avoid inactivity and ensure more sleep
Spending time sitting or lying around for long periods and not getting sufficient sleep prevents children from achieving a healthy weight which spoils health. Thus, inactivity and inadequate sleep are two major enemies of proper weight management in children.
The sum of time a child spends watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the internet must be curtailed and brought to a minimal level. The sum of time a child spends in front of an electronic device such as television, computer, or mobile phone is called screen time. The screen time for children should not exceed 2 hours a day. Spending longer than 2 hours doing nothing each day results in weight gain.
3) Healthy food
Managing your child’s health in terms of weight control cannot be complete without healthy food. Should pair Physical activities with healthy eating habits to get the correct weight. Children should consume a minimum of five portions of fruits and vegetables each day. Fruits and vegetables provide fibers, vitamins, and minerals, which help in healthy weight management.
Apart from whole vegetables, consuming beans, pulses, juices, and smoothies can also be consumed and counted as portions. However, it must remember that smoothies and fruit and vegetable juices count for one portion only irrespective of the glasses consumed in a day. It must also keep in mind that the total volume of smoothies and juices drunk in a single day should not exceed 150 ml.
Soft drinks contain a high portion of sugar and must be avoided. Even fruit juices must be 100% pure and free of added sugar. Thus, bottled and tetra pack juices must also not be given to children. Other sugary and high-calorie food products to avoid include cakes, biscuits, donuts, and pastries. Altogether, any food or drink containing a high amount of added sugar must be avoided for properly managing weight essential for Kid’s health.
4) Child-size portions of food
Healthy weight management under health care includes serving child-sized or small-sized portions of food. Initially, a small portion of the food must be served to the child. As the meal progresses, ask your child whether he/she is still hungry or not. Serve more only if the child expresses hunger. The child must not be forced to eat more than he/she desires.
Food should not be served to children on large plates meant for adults. Oversized portions of food are served inadvertently due to the large size of such plates, and the child gradually develops a habit of eating large-sized portions.
The practice of eating small-sized portions ensures that children never develop the habit of overeating, an important requirement for healthy weight management to achieve good Complete Children’s Health.
5) Breakfast is important
There is no shortage of children who skip breakfast either because they are late for school or simply don’t want to have breakfast. Breakfast provides the necessary energy to work during the day and also switches on body metabolism. Therefore, skipping breakfast is detrimental to maintaining healthy body weight under the total children’s health care regimen.
This is because children who skip breakfast feel hungry later and consume much more calories than the breakfast contained. Gradually, they put on weight. The Body Mass Index of children who eat breakfast tends to be lower than children who skip breakfast. Thus, it must be ensured that your child eats breakfast every day.
What are the types and basics of vaccination in children?
Prevention of many diseases through vaccination and proper management of common illnesses that inevitably afflict children are essential for proper health care.
a) Vaccination for various diseases
Vaccines protect against serious diseases caused by pathogens by building antibodies in the system. Therefore, immunization is very important to maintain a child’s health properly. Many vaccines need to be administered to a child right from toddlerhood throughout the growing years.
The vaccines are injected at various stages in the life of a growing child.
Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis vaccine is a series of 5 doses that protects the child against all these diseases. The vaccination shots are given starting from the age of 2 months right up to 6 years.
The Hepatitis B vaccine is another necessary vaccine. This vaccine protects children against the Hepatitis B virus, which causes liver failure. Three doses are administered to the child in the first 18 months.
Rotavirus vaccine protects children against a deadly stomach infection.
This is an oral vaccine given to a child in 2-3 doses between 2-6 months after birth. Inactivated poliovirus vaccine protects against poliomyelitis, a condition in which the child develops paralysis and can even die if respiratory muscles get paralyzed. Four oral doses are given starting at the age of 2 months.
Haemophilus influenza type b vaccine protects against infection by Haemophilus influenza type b bacteria which causes several serious diseases such as meningitis, pneumonia, blood infection, joint infection, and bone infection. Children are administered 3-4 doses of this vaccine starting at the age of 2 months. The pneumococcal vaccine also protects against blood and brain infection. This vaccine is given four times, starting at the age of 2 months.
Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccines protect against all these diseases. Two doses are administered to the child. The first dose is given 12-15 months after birth, while the second dose is given when the child reaches 4-6 years. For example, the varicella vaccine protecting against chickenpox is administered along with the MMR vaccine at 12-15 months of age, followed by the 2nd dose at 4-6 years.
There are other vaccines that must be administered between the age of 7 to 18. All these vaccines are also important and should not be ignored.
- The meningococcal conjugate vaccine protects against four types of meningitis-causing bacteria. Meningitis is a serious disease affecting the meninges, the protective layers covering the brain and spinal cord. The 1st dose is given at 11-12 years, followed by a booster dose at 16 years.
- Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine is a follow-up dose of the DTaP vaccine earlier administered from 2 months to 6 years. Follow up dose is required because the protection provided by the earlier doses becomes weak over the ensuing years.
- Human Papilloma Virus vaccine protects against HPV infection, which causes genital warts and cervical cancer. 2 doses are required if the child is aged 11 or 12, while three doses are given if the child is aged fifteen (15) years or more.
b) Features of vaccination
The number of doses, age of injection, and the schedule of any vaccine are determined based on scientific evidence and research. Thus, to protect your children’s health against serious diseases, it is important to strictly follow the dosage schedules of various vaccines. Vaccines administered in more than one dose build antibodies in over one dose. Thus, the child must get all the doses. A single dose of such a vaccine will not protect the child.
The vaccine can be administered if the child is suffering from the common cold, but vaccination cannot be done in case of a serious illness. If the child suffers from an allergic reaction caused by a vaccine, it should not be administered again.
Children suffering from immune system issues or specific kinds of cancer should not be administered live virus vaccines. The doctor must be fully aware of the child’s medical condition to make the right decision regarding the types of vaccines that can be given or not.
Skipping vaccination compromises Complete Children’s Health by making them easy targets for
What are common childhood illnesses and ways to treat them?
There are a plethora of illnesses that can afflict children. Although the condition may not be serious, proper management and monitoring are required so that even commonplace illnesses do not assume gigantic proportions and negatively affect Child’s Health.
1) Cough and Cold
Cough is a common pathological condition in children. A child can cough due to a host of reasons ranging from minor to major. Complete Children’s Health care involves a comprehensive understanding of various causes of cough for proper management.
The most common causes for cough in children are common cold and flu. Mild to moderate cough characterizes the common cold. A dry cough of severe type characterizes flu. Antiviral medications are required to treat such types of cough.
An allergic reaction causes persistent cough along with a runny nose, sore throat, rashes, and watery eyes. Allergy can be due to dust, pollen, animal fur, certain food items, etc. The doctor does an allergic test to determine the allergens responsible for the allergic reaction. Allergic medicines are prescribed to treat this kind of cough.
Asthma is a serious respiratory disease that manifests as cough. It threatens Complete Children’s Health and is hard to diagnose in children. Wheezing cough, which becomes severe at night, or cough triggered by physical activity such as playing, is the major asthma indicator.
If such symptoms appear in the child, visiting a doctor is necessary. Doctors use many diagnostic methods to decide whether a child has asthma or not. Physical examination, chest X-ray, spirometry, allergy skin testing, blood test, and many other tools are used to diagnose asthma in children.
Asthma cannot be cured, but the doctor works to manage the symptoms in the child and limit damage to the lungs so that condition doesn’t worsen in adulthood. Asthma treatment involves medicines and a plan about managing severe symptoms and when to get emergency treatment. Avoiding triggers such as pollution, cold air, allergens, and others that cause asthmatic attacks is also necessary.
An important precaution to protect your child when managing cough is to avoid giving cough syrups to children aged below four years and aspirin to children aged below 18.
2) Diarrhea and Constipation
Diarrhea is a common pathological condition in children. Diarrhea is usually caused due to bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Infection by the virus is the major reason for diarrhea in children, and the least frequent cause is a parasite. In addition to loose motions, symptoms of diarrhea also include nausea, vomiting, fever, and even rashes in some cases.
Properly managing attacks of diarrhea is essential for correct Child Health care. Compensating fluid loss is an important aspect of diarrhea management. To this end, giving ORS to the child is effective because it provides sodium, potassium, and other minerals to the child.
Diarrheasubsides within a few days. But if the symptoms persist for over two weeks, it is essential to visit a doctor.
Less frequent bowel movements, painful passing of dry and hard stools, stomach pain, and bloating are the major symptoms of constipation. Constipation is happened due to low intake of fibers and fluid, side effects of certain medicines, or the child’s habit of holding stool. Therefore, getting rid of constipation is an important aspect of health management.
A diet containing vegetables and fruits, whole-grain bread, legumes and beans, and high-fiber cereals help treat constipation. Consuming yogurt and drinking plenty of water every day also helps in treating constipation. Giving stool softener to the child under the care of a pediatrician is also effective in treating constipation.
3) High body temperature or fever
Fever, in most cases, is not harmful to children and goes away within three days. The child can be given Acetaminophen to lower the temperature. The dose to be given should be as per the doctor’s advice. Ibuprofen can also be given if the child is six months or older. A cold compress on the head and plenty of fluids give relief to the child.
Aspirin should never be given to treat fever because it damages a Child’s Health by causing a grave disease called Reye’s Syndrome. Likewise, cough and cold medicines should not be given to children under four years of age to avoid serious complications.
Certain kinds of fever end up causing a lot of harm to Child’s Health. Thus, it is important to identify such types of fever and take the child to a doctor without delay. The below-mentioned conditions necessitate urgent medical help.
- The temperature is 104 F or more.
- Temperature is 100.4 F or more in a child aged three months or less.
- Fever is accompanied by intense headache, ear pain, rashes, stiff neck, or sore throat.
- The child is getting attacks of seizures.
- The fever has not subsided even after 72 hours. If the child is less than two years in age, this limit decreases to 24 hours.
Managing fever is a part of Complete Children’s Health care management. Thus, a thermometer, preferably a digital thermometer, should be at hand.
4) Managing chronic diseases
Chronic diseases make health care very complex because these conditions are present throughout life. However, managing such conditions in children with the help of doctors enables them to lead a more happy and meaningful life. Chronic diseases include Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, hearing loss, visual impairment, and more.
FAQs about Complete Children’s Health
What should be the perfect diet for a child in a vegetarian family?
To properly manage Child’s Healthcare in vegetarian families, the recommended diet is fruits, vegetables, and grains high in fiber and low on calories. Can include milk and eggs in the child’s diet. However, vegan parents can choose alternative sources of calcium, Vitamin B12, protein, and iron.
What is the right age to play team sports?
Physical activity is very important for maintaining health in the best condition, and team sports like soccer, cricket, basketball, and others are perfect for intense physical exertions. 7-10 years is the best age range for children to commence participation in team sports.
Can immunization be delayed till the child starts going to school?
Immunization is a crucial weapon to manage kid’s health properly. Unfortunately, children are susceptible to several serious diseases that are prevented by vaccines. No child should be exposed to such risks by delaying immunization.
What is the correct BMI for children?
Body Mass Index is the weight of a child about his/her height. BMI is an important indicator of a kid’s health. BMI is expressed in percentile. 5th to 85th percentile range is healthy BMI.
As per W.H.O, It is imperative to protect and improve the health of children. We have seen a radical drop in the mortality rate of young children. Even from 2000 to 2017, this number decreased to 50% for children under five years old.