Raising Happy and Healthy Kids!!!
Jun 30, 2023
THE NOT-SO-ARTISTIC ART OF PARENTING:
Little Millie stormed out of the room in a huff. She sulked at the dinner table because her parents didn’t get her the doll house she wanted right away. “Wait till I grow up and earn my own money. I can buy whatever I want.”, she mumbled quite loudly so her parents could hear her.
Welcome to the art of daily parenting, my friends. There is no sure-shot golden bullet or rule. I would argue that parenting is even more choicely tailored and fit than the clothes models step into while walking the Paris runway. In simple terms, there is no one way for all. We can however find relatable situations and share experiences to deal with age-related issues that might arise around their milestones.
Rekha, a new mom loved her sleep. She shared how she couldn’t wait for her newborn son to grow a few months older so she could sleep the night through. Well, her son is now 7 months old and sleeps the night through. Now she wishes he would not bite her so much while he suckled. My point is, every age comes with its challenges and most certainly rewards.
FEEDING YOUR NEW BUNDLE WITH MORE THAN LOVE:
Holding your little bundle in your arms is a gratifying and joyous experience for parents and family. With the joy comes a lot of responsibility that many a time, a new mother may find overwhelming. The first responsibility is feeding your child, around the clock and at the same time managing to squeeze in a few hours of rest for yourself. Enough importance cannot be given to the advantages of breastfeeding your baby.
Early nutrition plays a crucial role in their immunity development and well-being. Breastfeeding can benefit both the mother and the baby. Some of the many benefits are listed below.
Benefits for the baby:
1. Colostrum, is the milk secreted during the initial days after birth. It is yellow in colour and is a rich source of protein, which aids in the development of the digestive tract of the newborn.
2. Breast milk is a rich source of IgA (Immunoglobulin A), which is an antibody that plays a key role in immune function.
3. Studies show that breastfeeding can lower the risk of severe bowel diseases, allergic reactions, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and even is shown to lower the risk of childhood leukaemia.
4. Breastfed infants are less likely to suffer from obesity. Breast milk is a rich source of leptin, a crucial hormone in appetite control and fat storage, thus enabling the child to develop healthy eating patterns later in life.
Benefits for the mother:
1. Breastfeeding may help reduce the risk of postpartum depression as hormones like oxytocin that are responsible for lactation are also known to render an uplift of mood.
2. The process of breastfeeding burns many calories. Studies show that mothers who breastfeed their babies tend to lose fat faster than mothers who do not.
3. The uterus grows along with the foetus during pregnancy. Oxytocin secreted during breastfeeding helps the uterus return to its original size.
4. Breastfeeding may help in the regulation of the menstrual cycle. As it is known to delay ovulation and menstruation, this helps ensure healthy-spaced-out pregnancies.
That being said, if under unavoidable circumstances, the mother cannot breastfeed the child directly, breast pumps are an excellent option to provide your child with breast milk. If the mother is not able to supply the child with breast milk, due to latching issues or insufficient supply, she is advised to visit a lactation consultant to assist her. Under further guidance, from a paediatrician, the mother may resort to formula feeds, which are adapted with adequate and sufficient nutrients for the baby to grow. But remember always that nothing beats the goodness of breast milk
A HEALTHY CHILD IS A HAPPY CHILD:
Suraj, a class 1 student always was short of attendance as he fell sick quite often. He seemed dull and less enthusiastic compared to his classmates. Is this normal?
Well, a child’s health and well-being directly depend on various factors like nutrition, environment and hygiene. Sickness may affect the physical and /or mental health of a child
A) Some common physical issues during the initial years are
This is an immune response triggered in response to certain substances in the environment like insect stings, dust mites, pollen, certain foods like nuts and so on
2. Common colds
Children are known to get infected with a cold as often as once a month. The best treatment is good hydration and rest.
This is an infection of the lining of the eyeballs and eyelids. Symptoms include puffy, red, sore and sticky eyes. It may have a bacterial or viral origin. Visit your nearest paediatrician for treatment.
4. Food intolerances
This is an abnormal reaction to something the child has eaten. Symptoms include bloating and diarrhoea.
5. HFM ( Hand Foot Mouth) disease
Small blisters occur on the hand, foot and inside the mouth. It is harmless but very contagious. Children attending play groups that are not hygienic and not cleaned thoroughly may be at risk.
These are easy to treat with anti-parasitic tablets. However please remember to treat the entire family at the same time for best results and lesser chance of recurrence.
This is the most common sickness in kids below the age of 6 years. Symptoms include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and fever. Always remember to replenish the fluids that your child loses during the sickness. over the counter rehydration solutions work like a charm and make your child feel slightly more active again.
The initial years are very crucial to immunity development. The more pathogens a child is exposed to, the better immunity he or she develops. It is important for parents to stay calm and supportive during this period. Emphasis should be given to not self-medicating the child without any prescription. Do not encourage the use of over-the-counter antibiotics unless prescribed by a licensed health practitioner.
Some tips to maintain their physical health:
1. Keeping immunisations up to date
2. Preventing the use of pesticide sprays while the kid is around
3. Keeping your home a “No Smoking” zone.
4. Using only medicines prescribed by a health practitioner, with adequate dosing.
B) Cognitive development:
Cognitive developmental milestones are skills that children are expected to develop during the initial years. For example
Surveying surroundings, tracing moving objects with their vision, recognising faces and expressions, responding to sounds and also differentiating between various colours based on hues
Imitating sounds, can drop and pick objects, recognise parents and hence developing stranger anxiety.
They respond when their names are called, imitate gestures, understand the meaning of simple words like, “no” and finger play with objects.
Start saying their first words like “ mamma”, “dadda” and “akka”
As they grow older children process and understand more words.
When to seek help from a professional?
1. No social smile after 2 months
2. Does not respond to sounds or name calling by 6 months
3. Does not have stranger anxiety by 8 months
4. Does not talk after 2 years
5. Inability to follow simple instructions even after 3 years
ESTABLISH HABITUAL HYGIENE:
Hygiene refers to a series of practices that preserve and protect an individual's health from diseases. Personal hygiene is what needs to be inculcated from a young age. Personal hygiene can be classified into the following subgroups
1. Food hygiene
Many food and water-borne diseases can occur in children and adults. This is a result of unhygienic preparation of food or handling of water. This can also be attributed to improper washing of vegetables before cooking or improper cooking time and temperature, especially when cooking any meat.
2. Hand hygiene
The value of simple act of hand washing has proven extremely beneficial to us ever since this pandemic. Coronavirus is not the only germ around, so we must insist our children and family continue this practice. Children must be asked to wash their hands immediately after play and before touching any food to put in their mouth. Trimming nails is very important as they can harbour germs and dirt, in places that may not be completely cleaned despite washing
3. Body hygiene
The skin is the largest organ of the body. As much as it acts as a protective layer from many microorganisms, it may be vulnerable to germs in places where even a mild scratch is present.
Taking showers before and after school, even after playing in the park is necessary. Kids should be taught to bathe each part of their body well. Some areas kids might miss are, the belly button, behind the knees, the armpits, ear lobes and between the digits of their toes and fingers. While washing hair, it is essential to check for lice. Spread of lice is very common in young children. When multiple children are at home it is important that all children have their own soap.
4. Dental hygiene
These pearly white thrusting machines in our mouths are very important to keep us healthy. Only if our teeth our healthy can we chew our food well. Only if food is chewed well, it will be digested well giving our body sufficient nutrients. Most kids love candies. We feel that they should not be denied the pleasure. Fair enough! But insist that they brush their teeth twice a day and drink water after popping candy in their mouth. Warm Salt water gargles also help to keep the germs away.
LIFESTYLE AND EATING HEALTHY:
Mike loved the outdoors whereas Fred loved the couch in front of the television. Ten years later, Mike was the basketball captain of his school team. Fred, on the other hand, suffered from childhood obesity. It is important to emphasise eating healthy and having an active lifestyle. This can be challenging, especially with the varied smart devices all around. Encouraging outdoor activities, rewarding them after completing their chores and ensuring they eat healthy food will help battle the risk of an unhealthy lifestyle.
CHILDREN, GO SLEEP! DON’T PEEP:
The easiest form of healing in our body is sleep. As we sleep our brains move between two kinds of sleep, non-rapid eye movement and Rapid eye movement (REM). Together these stages make up the sleep cycle. REM sleep is important for learning and memory. Kids need adequate sleep for their health and well-being.
Infants (0-3 months) -14-17 hours
Infants (4-12 months)- 12-16 hours
Toddlers (1-2 years) - 11-14 hours
Preschool (3-5 years) - 10-13 hours
School-age (6-13 years) - 9-12 hours
Teens (14-19 years) - 8-10 hours
Young adults to adulthood- 6-9 hours
Tips for developing a sleep routine for a newborn:
1. Dim the lights
2. Stick to a bedtime routine which involves a relaxing bath, followed by a feed and then bed.
3. Do not speak in loud voices during the bedtime routine schedule.
4. White noise helps certain children calm down and sleep.
5. Soft music can be played based on your child’s preference.
As children grow, they are very easily distracted by the activity around them. It is still mandatory to follow a sleep routine. Maybe incorporating a bedtime story before bed will help them look forward to the routine and also relax them into falling asleep.
There is no one way to ideal parenting. As said earlier, it is custom and tailor-made to fit the mindset of your kids. Our duty as parents however remains in helping our kids grow into wholistic, responsible, independent, healthy individuals. Let me end with a quote by Ann Landers that says, “ It’s not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings”.