Parents begin making decisions regarding their children long before a baby is born. From morals to food, to activities, parenting decisions are ongoing. Although some of these choices have little impact, others will affect them throughout their lifetime; health and nutrition are prime examples.
The health and nutrition of children are critical to their well-being, and parents need to encourage healthy behaviors. Building a healthy lifestyle will help protect them against diseases and chronic health conditions. Whereas an unhealthy lifestyle can lead to startling statistics such as these:
- Only one in three children is physically active every day.
- Americans, including children, eat far less than the recommended amounts of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains needed every day.
- 12.5 million children and adolescents are obese and if uncorrected will contribute to the 78 million U.S. adults who are currently obese.
Make the decision to prioritize children’s health and teach them how to live a healthy lifestyle. Teach children how important physical activity and a well-balanced diet are to their health. Although these are not the only two contributors to a healthy way of life, they both have a significant impact on one’s wellbeing. Without a well-balanced diet and exercise, children can become overweight, become mentally affected, and even develop chronic illnesses.
In addition to diet and regular exercise, other health related items parents should pay close attention to include rest, sleep, and drug and alcohol use. If a child eats well, exercises regularly, and does not get enough sleep, their mental and physical health may suffer. Lack of rest can also impact their stress levels and productivity. Now, when drugs or alcohol are in a child’s life parents need to worry beyond their child’s mental and physical health and start looking at the possibility of greater consequence.
Best prepare our nation’s children for a healthy future through example and encouragement. Check out the following links and see how you can help encourage good health and nutrition in your children’s lives.
Keeping Fit and Having Fun
- Keeping Kids Fit: Make Fitness Fun for the Whole Family – Sarah E. Messiah, Ph.D., shares her encouraging words and ideas with the Miami Herald on how parents can make fitness fun for everyone.
- 10 Ways to Exercise as a Family – Looking for ideas on how to exercise as a family? Check out these ten suggestions provided by Parents Magazine.
- 5 Tips for Staying Active With Kids and Family – Everyone can use a tip or two for staying active, and these five tips are outstanding.
- Keeping Kids Fit (video) – PBS presents several videos with a lot of information and resources for keeping kids fit.
- 10 Rules to Keep Kids Active – If you find that you are stuck in an inactive rut with your children, check out these ten rules for keeping your kids active.
- What if I Don’t Like Sports? – Not all kids like sports, so this page discusses alternative options for staying active.
- 11 Ways to Encourage Your Children to Be Physically Active – Being active as a kid isn’t limited to playing sports, or exercising, and here parents can find 11 various ways to encourage physical activity.
- Keeping Your Children Active – Sometimes it helps to know why children should stay active to want to encourage them to exercise. On this website, doctors explain why kids need to stay active and also provide ideas for keeping them moving.
- 8 Fun Kid Activities to Get You Fit – Check out these children’s activities suggested by the Reader’s Digest that are both fun for children and will also get everyone who participates more fit.
Sleep and Rest for the Body
- Why is Sleep Important? – Read this article by The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and learn why sleep is essential to your health.
- What Sleep Is and Why All Kids Need It – Sleep is one of the most important things a child needs, and on this page, readers learn why.
- The Rest of the Story: Why Kids Need Sleep – Dr. Nathan Boonstra shares this article discussing why children need sleep, how much sleep they need, and ways to improve their sleep.
- Good, Sound Sleep for Your Child – WebMD explains how much sleep children need, the quality of sleep needed, and its benefits here.
- Teaching Kids the Importance of Sleep – Children often fight sleep, and on this website, the National Sleep Foundation provides a variety of tools and information for parents to use to teach their children about sleep.
- Sleep: An Important Part of Healthy Development (PDF) – In this newsletter put out by Oregon State University Family Care Connection readers learn about the importance of sleep and its’ connection to the healthy development of children.
- The Connection Between Sleep and Growth (ages 5 to 8) – Read this article and learn about the relationship between sleep and growth.
- Sleep in School-Aged Children (6 to 12 Years) – As children grow their sleep patterns will change; learn what to expect between the ages of 6 and 12 years here.
- 10 Benefits of an Early Bedtime for Your Child – There are many advantages to putting your child to bed early, and U.S. News does an excellent job of listing some of the benefits in this article.
- Rest, Relaxation and Exercise – Rest is not only necessary for physical health, but it is also beneficial to everyone’s mental health.
Fabulous Food and Nutrition
- Childhood Nutrition Facts – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discusses both the benefits of children eating healthy and the consequences of a poor diet here.
- The Benefits of Eating Healthy Foods as a Child – Children’s bodies and minds are developing rapidly, and it is important for them to eat healthy to fuel their bodies and promote proper development.
- Nutrition for Kids: A Dietary Approach to Lifelong Health (PDF) – This is a helpful guide for parents who are looking for nutritional information relating to children and their health.
- How Does Nutrition Affect Children’s School Performance – There is a lot of politic debate when it comes to education funding, and one argument shown here on CNN discusses the effects of nutrition on children’s school performance.
- Daily Nutrition Guide – Read this article to find out what nutrients children need every day.
- Healthy Eating for Children (PDF) – This printable guide discusses different ways that parents can encourage their children to eat healthy.
- Helping Children Develop Healthy Eating Habits – This article explains the normal progression of eating habits and how to guide children to develop healthy eating habits.
- Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food – Food not only fuels the body, but it fuels the brain. Check out this page presented by Harvard Health Publications and learn how food affects the brain.
- The ADHD Food Fix – Studies show that a child’s diet can affect the symptoms of ADHD. Discover how to minimize ADHD symptoms with a proper diet.
- Teach Your Child How to Handle Food Pushing – Everyone in a child’s life has different beliefs on what children should and shouldn’t eat. Help your child learn how to handle food pushing with the help of this article.
Additional Health and Nutrition Information
- Help! I Can’t Change My Families Eating Habits – Many parents battle picky eaters, and this article is here to provide some ideas for how to convince even the pickiest eater to eat healthy.
- Children Nutritional Facts – Here readers find stunning facts about children’s nutrition.
- How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label – Nutrition labels can be confusing, and the FDA presents a clear way to on how to use and understand nutritional fact labels.
- Stress – Learning to Relax – Children experience stress similar to adults, and rest and relaxation are one way children can minimize the effects of stress.
- Top 10 Tops to Help Children Develop Healthy Habits – Every parent wants their children to be physically and mentally healthy and here are some great tips to help parents achieve that goal.
- Lessons and Activities for Teaching Kids About Drugs – Whether you know a lot about drugs or not, it can be challenging to teach your child about them; here are some lessons and activities that will help make this task easier.
- Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents (PDF) – Check out this outstanding resource guide and learn tips and tricks for preventing drug use.
- What Parents Need to Know: A Prescription Drug Abuse Documentary (Video) – Watch this video and learn about prescription drug abuse and prevent your children from its dangers.
- Talking to Kids About Alcohol (PDF) – This is a resource for parents needing help talking to their children about alcohol and the dangers associated with it.
- Alcohol: A Dangerous Poison for Children – Parents of teenagers aren’t the only ones who need to worry about alcohol with their children; Alcohol can be a dangerous poison for children of all ages.