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15 Ways to raise a healthy child

Kim Grundy is a mom, writer, expert laundry folder and sandwich maker, not necessarily in that order. Raised in Oklahoma, she is now a West Coast gal and lives in California with her husband and two sons, along with one dog, two fish (oo...

Tips for a
healthy family

Raising a healthy child in today's fast-paced and high-tech world can feel like a constant battle, but it doesn’t have to be! Parenting and nutrition experts share their top 15 ways to make small changes in your daily routine to help your child grow up strong and healthy. Watch out, world!

Tween girl with vacuum

7

Don't overmedicate a fever in older kids

It is tempting to run for medication at the first sign of a fever, but licensed holistic health practitioner Carolyn Harrington, who is also founder of Maty's Healthy Products, cautions against this.

"If and when you get sick and develop a fever, let the fever run its course. Bacteria and virus cannot survive at higher than normal temperatures. If you quickly reduce the fever by taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen, you may feel better, but you handicap your immune system by eliminating one of its strongest weapons," Harrington says. "Of course, if a fever gets too high, above 104 degrees (F), a doctor should be consulted."

Babies or children with certain conditions will need fever-reducing medication much earlier than 104 degrees F (young infants as low as 100.4 degrees F), so talk with your doctor about when you should give your child medications.

8

Give kids responsibility

"Give your children chores that are age and ability appropriate," says Margaret Briem, author of The Parent Plan: A Guide to Intentional Parenting. "Children need to contribute to their community and they learn to do that by starting with contributing at home."

9

Get enough rest and sleep

"Studies show that getting enough sleep at night not only strengthens the immune system, it also helps control your weight," Harrington says. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children ages 1-3 get between 12-14 hours of sleep, children ages 3-5 get between 11-13 hours of sleep and children ages 5-12 get between 10-11 hours of sleep.

10

Let kids stop eating
when they're done

Avoid telling kids to clean their plate or "take just two more bites."

"Children are so intuitively good about eating — they stop when they're full," says Sophie Pachella, founder of EatStrong.com, who says she lets her daughter gauge how full she is. There is one stipulation: "She can't say she's done, then ask for cookies."

11

Be aware of at-risk behaviors

"Watch for 'at-risk' behaviors and seek professional help when needed. These could be such things as drug and alcohol use, cutting or emotional issues," Briem says. "Supervise your children when on the internet always. Internet use is always a risk when it comes to your kids."

12

Get your kids moving

"You don't need to spend a bundle of money on sports to keep your child active," says personal trainer of Two Sisters Fitness Mariana Abeid-McDougall. "Do active living activities with your child, from dancing around the living room to going to the local swimming pool to just running around the playground."

13

Take control of what food
is in the house

"If the pantry and refrigerator are filled with healthy foods, then the child won't resort to eating donuts when he/she is hungry, but instead a healthy snack is a more possible choice," says Melissa Hawthorne, M.S., R.D., L.D.

14

Clear your child's calendar

"Let them have free time. Don't feel they have to be busy or involved in something every minute," says Mary C. Pratt, of HandsonParenting.com. "They need time to use their imagination and explore their world."

15

Unplug

"Set aside a specified time each day for your kids to put down the electronic games, turn off the TV and computer and play outside," says Candi Wingate of Nannies4Hire.com. She recommends fun classic games like hide-and-seek, leap frog, Simon Says, kickball, tag and jumping rope.

More ways to raise healthy kids

Itsy-bitsy yoga: The new exercise for kids
Fun family activities
3 Ways to get your kids eating healthy

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