Starting healthy habits early in life is one of the most effective ways to help children be healthy. From eating a balanced diet, to regular physical activity and annual checkups with a physician, you can take steps early to ensure your child has a healthy start in life.
Children can often show preferences for certain foods early in life, and those preferences are not always the best choices for their health. Most foods can be part of your child’s diet, but some should be limited to special occasions. Introduce your children to a variety of fresh foods early when they are developing food preferences. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein choices like skinless chicken, turkey and fish are excellent options to include in your child’s diet. Other good eating habits to adopt with your family include:
- Having regular family meals
- Offering a variety of healthy foods and snacks
- Setting an example with your own healthy eating habits
- Avoiding disagreements over food
- Having your kids help you shop and prepare meals
Being active is important for everyone, especially children. Regular physical activity is an outlet to expend energy, learn new skills, strengthen bones and muscles and even for social interaction with other children. Physically active children have leaner bodies and are also less likely to be overweight or develop type 2 diabetes. The amount of and types of activity your child needs depends on their age and level of development. Learn more about this from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here are some tips to ensure your child learns to make physical activity a priority:
- Help your child try a variety of activities so they can learn different skills and find those they most enjoy
- Have a regular schedule for activities
- Incorporate activity into your normal daily routines, including taking the stairs or walking during your errands
- Demonstrate your interest in being active and invite your children to join you.
Regular visits with your child’s healthcare provider can help ensure your child is developing normally. Our Healthy You! wellness benefit covers age and gender-specific health screenings and immunizations at no out-of-pocket cost. Children receive up to eight visits during the first two years of life and once each year after age two. To learn more and to download a copy of the Healthy Me! Wellness Guide for kids, click here.