As a single mom, there’s no doubt you have your hands full. Hopefully, you have a supportive network of people you can turn to when you need help with your children. If not, don’t forget–you’ve got the strength to do this, mama!
Follow these five simple tips to support your children’s health.
1. A Nutritious Diet
To boost your child’s health, you’ll want to provide a nutritious balanced diet for them to eat. Try providing balanced meals with a mix of the following foods:
- Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
- Milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products that are low-fat or fat-free.
- Lean meats, chicken, seafood, eggs, beans, peas and soy products. When consuming protein products, variety is vital.
It’s wise to avoid purchasing overly processed foods when picking meals or snacks for your child. Steer clear from added sugars, refined grains, saturated fats and salt to choose healthier food when shopping at the grocery store.
When preparing meals and controlling portions, use the guidance of MyPlate to help you appropriately balance portion sizes for specific food groups. For helpful reference, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends you fill half of your child’s plate with fruits and vegetables, while the other half should go to grains and protein.
2. Getting Enough Sleep
Ensuring your child rests enough at night is an essential aspect of maintaining their health. Studies show that children who get quality sleep have better overall mental and physical health. Your child could also benefit from a boost in memory, attention and behavior. Long-term effects of sleep deprivation include obesity, high blood pressure and depression.
Depending on the age of your child, they’ll need a differing amount of rest a night:
- Newborns to one year: 12-16 hours of sleep
- Children one to two years: 11-14 hours of sleep
- Children three to five years: 10-13 hours of sleep
- Children six to twelve years: 9-12 hours of sleep
- Teenagers thirteen to eighteen years: 8-10 hours of sleep
Help your child get a restful night of sleep by establishing a bedtime routine. Start it simultaneously each night for as much consistency as possible and assist your child as they wind down for the evening. Typical bedtime routines include warm baths, limiting electronic devices for the hour before bedtime, reading books and dimming the lights.
3. 60 Minutes of Physical Activity
Physical fitness is a significantly important factor in healthy living. Encourage your child to get outside to play for 60 minutes each day. Playing outside increases your child’s strength and stamina. It improves circulation and lowers their blood pressure. Being active can reduce your child’s risk of obesity, stroke and heart disease. When your child’s body is strong, it can better defend itself from the cold, flu and other viruses. Prioritize getting your child outdoors and active each day.
4. Physical and Oral Health
To support your child’s physical and oral health, you’ll want to find a good pediatrician and dentist whom you can trust. You must discover practitioners you can rely on as they will likely see your child from infancy until young adulthood.
Your pediatrician will see your child routinely throughout the first two years of your child’s life for well-baby checkups. During these examinations, your pediatrician will also administer necessary vaccinations for the health of your child. As your child grows, you should expect them to visit the doctor for annual checkups.
By the time your child turns a year, it’s recommended that they see the dentist. During their first appointment, you can expect an examination to ensure their teeth grow as they should. The dentist might also perform a cleaning. After the initial checkup, the second will be scheduled for six months later. The earlier your child learns good oral hygiene, the better success they’ll have with the practices becoming habitual.
Because you’ve taken your child to their checkups, when they get sick or experience a dental emergency, you’ll have qualified professionals you can turn to. You’ll rest in the assurance that these providers have a detailed history of your child’s medical records and can administer quality care.
5. Emotional and Mental Wellness
Encouraging your child’s emotional and mental wellness will also benefit their overall physical health. Start by making mental health a priority in infancy. Talk to your little ones about their big feelings and give them words for their emotions—model emotional regulation and self-control.
One of the easiest ways to support your child emotionally is to ensure they feel a sense of belonging at home, among friends or in the classroom. You can get a sense of where your child is at with this by seeing where they spend most of their time. Do they hang out with their friends? Or are they involved in many afterschool activities?
Suppose you feel your child isn’t emotionally invested with friends or doesn’t have a helpful network at school. In that case, you could consider reaching out to mental health providers that could provide additional support. Providers will be able to connect with your school administrators and set up a mental health emergency team if deemed necessary.
Boost Your Child’s Health Today
When you stress balanced nutrition, fitness, quality sleep, and mental wellness your child will benefit from better health. Emphasize your child’s physical health starting today!