How to Raise a Healthy Child with Healthy Habits
I don't recall anyone ever giving me a handbook on how to raise a child; a healthy child for that matter. Basically, soon after delivery you were on your own; bid farewell by the hospital staff and wheeled out to the parking lot. "Good luck!" was the words echoing in your ears as you drove off.
You feel completely isolated and unsure of what to do next; however, caring for babies is the least of your concerns. At least for babies, health and nutrition equal breast milk and/or formula. Besides, babies have a way of expressing their wants and when they want it. Not so is the case for a growing toddler, experiencing the taste of real food for the very first time. This is when you need to instill good nutrition and healthy eating habits.
Establish Healthy Eating Habits
Yes, it's cute to see a child's eyes light up with expression of oohs and ahs from the very first taste of something yummy (like sweets). But… by introducing unhealthy choices rather than foods filled with nutrition, you're running the risk of creating some unhealthy eating habits. Be consistent with offering healthy food choices such as plenty of fruits and vegetables and you'll have a better chance of your child retaining that life style as he/she grows. Resist the urge to tempt your toddler by setting some ground rules for yourself and what you keep in your cupboards. Remember, it's a strong, healthy child you want to raise not Willy Wonka.
One obstacle I'm positive you'll have to overcome when it pertains to junk food is Grandparents. All Grandparents, even my children's feel that they're entitled to feed your child what ever they want. Though I can't guarantee you'll be completely in charge of the situation, I would suggest that you talk to them about the healthy lifestyle you are trying to maintain for your kids. Perhaps they will respect that/or not.
As your child grows and exhibits self-sufficiency, they're need to raid the refrigerator becomes more obvious. Again, keep an ample supply of easy-to-grab snacks that are inviting and pleasing to the eye, along with being nutritious. Keep a drawer or a cupboard especially designed for their snacking needs. Cull the carbonated beverages or drinks filled with sugar. Instead make available ice water, milk, and the occasional 100% juice. Choice is essential but choice with limits is necessary for strong and healthy children.
As a rule of thumb, meals are eaten at the table and not in front of the television, in their bedrooms, or while continuing an activity. In my experience as a parent, these evil habits have led to over-eating, not eating enough, and forgetting what they ate because they were so consumed with every other thing going on around them. Like me, a working parent, I know that it's sometimes very difficult to commit to certain meal times; however, establishing some kind of routine will help them in the long run.
Promote Exercise and Healthy Activities
Nutrition is not the only key to raising a healthy child; it's exercise and activity as well. Keeping a child active is becoming more trying then it used to be. Unfortunately, kids are spending more and more time consumed by video games or the television. More unfortunate are the parents that are allowing it. Instead of mustering up the energy to get your child moving, it's more convenient for us to let this unhealthy activity continue. As a child of the 60's I never had the modern-day conveniences they do now. We played outside from dawn to dusk. Nobody had to tell us to get out and exercise; playing was exercise. But now, to create healthy activity we also have to lead by example. Yes, we parents are also guilty of lounging around on the couch with our little remote controls or laptop computers.
Encourage your child to participate in at least one physical activity; whether it's a sport, a game, or riding a bike. And yes, as parent, we also have to contribute to this effort. Put limits on certain un-fulfilling activities and promote healthy ones. My children decided to take part in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. I feel that this was the best choice for my boys because their range of likes and dislikes varied considerably. Plus, the scouts promote a healthy and active lifestyle which in return took a lot of the load off my shoulders. They participate in several outdoor activities per month and are excited about staying fit. Surrounding them with positive influence has created a welcoming environment.
By developing healthy eating and activity habits at an early age, I have established healthy and strong children for their lifetime, which in return could trickle down to their children.
Sources: Personal Experiences