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Liv Barnes, Guest Blogger

Fall is officially here, and that means it’s time for school, cooler weather, and the dreaded cold season. This is the perfect time to recognize and implement healthy habits in your child’s routine. Luckily with some planning and extra care, keeping your child healthy can be a breeze during this time.  

Keep Up With Exercise 

When thinking about your health and your child’s, exercise is often the first thing that comes to mind. It’s much easier to stay active and exercise with your child in the summer because you can go outside and enjoy the weather with a nice hike, walk, or play sports. When it’s too cold or dreary to spend time outside you’ll have to get a bit more creative to find ways to keep your kids active indoors. Consider enrolling them in an indoor sport like basketball, volleyball, wrestling, or hockey either at school or a local youth facility. This could not only help your child stay healthy and active, but can also encourage strong social skills and help them build long-lasting friendships! 

Maintain A Healthy Diet  

A healthy diet is the next most important part of your child’s overall health. However, children can be picky eaters which doesn’t make it easy to get them to eat their fruits and vegetables,   but you can get them in the right mindset with a few tricks. Sneaking the vegetables into your meals is arguably the easiest way, like adding finely chopped spinach to your pasta sauce or using veggie or chickpea pasta instead of traditional pasta. Try to make eating more vegetables fun by serving something like broccoli tots or a cauliflower crust pizza, or using a spiralizer to make veggie noodles! In addition to sneaking vegetables into your recipes, encourage them to get in the kitchen with you. This will not only make them feel like they’re helping, but it can get them excited about eating healthy!  

It can be overwhelming to come up with healthy meals for your family every day, but luckily there are so many resources that will help to ensure you’re providing your child with nutritious options. Healthline, for example, shares plenty of tips for healthy diets and nutrition. Also, check to see what programs are offered in your community. Lunchology is a program that has been helping families in New York State prioritize good nutrition for five years now. You can find more information and healthy recipe videos on Fidelis Care’s YouTube where they post Lunchology menu highlights. 

Teach Hygiene Habits 

Teaching your children healthy hygiene habits as early as possible will help them continue these habits into their adulthood. There are some great DIY experiments and games for helping kids learn about germs and make it fun! Showing them how to properly wash their hands while singing the Happy Birthday song twice will ensure they are scrubbing long enough to effectively stop the spread of germs. Also, make sure they know the right times to wash their hands, like after using the bathroom, after touching things in public places, and before eating for example. Teaching them how to sneeze into their elbow or their hand and then wash their hands will help them stay safe and help them keep germs from spreading as well.

Limit Screen Time 

As more kids are beginning to use electronic devices at younger ages, it’s important to be able to recognize when it’s becoming too much. The science between screen time and children’s health is still being explored, but there are certain things we know of thus far. Studies on the effects of screen time have shown there could be negative impacts on their language development and communication skills, and the blue light can harm melatonin production which leads to sleep issues. It’s possible that excessive screen time can lead to sleep deprivation which can then lead to obesity, causing self-esteem issues and other health problems in the future. Keep certain times of the day screen free, and make sure they are put away at least 1 hour before bedtime.

Keep A Routine 

Routines are important for children’s health, especially when it comes to reinforcing healthy habits with your kids. A well-structured routine can tie everything together, they’ll get used to exercising for an hour every day after school, knowing when snack time or mealtime is to avoid overeating, remember to wash their hands regularly, and know when it’s time to put away their electronics. A proper sleep schedule is one more important way to make sure your child stays healthy. Making sure your child is getting adequate sleep can help improve concentration, mood, healthy weight, and working a regular bedtime into their routine can help reduce anxiety or arguments over bedtime. 

Trying to keep your child healthy can feel like a daunting task, especially given current circumstances. They say it takes a village, but keep these tips in mind and if you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember to use your resources!