Healthy Guidelines for Kids

In addition to practicing good hygiene and not sharing things like water bottles, you can also help keep your kids’ immune systems strong by following these healthy guidelines:

  1. Get adequate sleep. Children in kindergarten through sixth-grade need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep every night. Sleep quality is directly associated with behavior, eating habits, and the ability to fight off infections. Lack of sleep increases cravings for junk food and often results in mood swings, temper tantrums, and an increased risk of infection. 
  2. Exercise daily. Getting at least 60 minutes of exercise a day helps children sleep better, fight off infection, be healthier overall, manage stress better, and improve their performance in school. 
  3. Reduce screen time. Screen time not associated with homework should be limited to two or less hours a day. And yes, that includes phones, televisions, tablets, video games, and computers. Screens should also not be used too close to bedtime as the light emitted from screens can reduce melatonin levels, making it more difficult to fall asleep and can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm. 
  4. Practice healthy eating habits. Children should eat a nutritious breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with adequate hydration throughout the day. 
    1. A healthy breakfast that includes protein, dairy, and whole grains is directly correlated to positive behaviors throughout the day and improves the ability to focus and concentrate.
    2. A nutritious lunch should include lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. 
    3. Mealtimes spent with family promote better health and well-being. Family dinners can help prevent fatigue, improve mood, aid digestion and weight maintenance, and improve brain function.
    4. Limit or eliminate sugar-sweetened and caffeinated beverages. Caffeine can increase your child’s heart rate and blood pressure, interrupt sleep, and cause nervousness or irritability. Encourage healthy drink choices like water and milk instead. 
  5. Stay up-to-date on immunizations. Getting the flu shot and other immunizations are particularly important. The requirements for K-12 students in Texas can be found here
  6. Help your child deal with stress and anxiety. It’s hard being a kid. School, sports and social media can all be sources of stress and anxiety for your child. Monitor their social media use and keep the lines of communication open so you can identify bullying or other sources of stress or anxiety at school and help them work through it. 
  7. Promote proper backpack safety. Backpacks can get heavy. Unfortunately, heavy backpacks can cause neck, shoulder, and back pain. Kids’ backpacks should have two straps and cushioned padding to help evenly distribute the weight. A full backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10% of your child’s weight.
  8. Schedule a school or sports physical. Physicals are an excellent way to monitor your child’s development, growth, and health each year. They’re also a great time to ask your healthcare provider any questions or bring up any concerns you may have. For a limited time, Freestone Medical Center is offering $25 physicals at all of our clinic locations. To schedule an appointment, call (903) 389-2181 for the Freestone Health Clinic, (254) 615-0400 Freestone Health Clinic at Teague and (903) 480-0041 for Leon Health Clinic.