Healthy Children and Teens
Healthy habits begin at home. Whether you’re a parent, child, teen, or family, we can help you find the right tools and resources to support your needs at any stage or age.
5 tips for a healthy start
Breast milk is all your baby needs for the first 6 months. If you can, breastfeed your baby whenever he or she seems hungry. When your baby is ready for solid foods, introduce single-ingredient pureed vegetables and fruits.
Never leave your baby unattended. Always use a car seat and watch your baby closely around pets. Remember to put your baby to sleep on their back to decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Set a regular schedule for naps and bedtime. Put your baby in a crib in a quiet, dark room when they are drowsy but still awake. This will help them learn to go to sleep on their own.
The most important way to help your baby grow and develop is to communicate with him or her. Use gentle touch, hugs, and kisses.
You control what, when, and where your child eats. Provide healthy foods like low-fat yogurt with fruit or baby carrots with hummus. Your child will decide whether to eat and how much. This will help them know when they are truly satisfied.
Play games that encourage walking and movement and go outside when possible. Help your child walk around the yard with push toys, such as play lawn mowers or bubble poppers.
Toddlers need about 12 hours of sleep a day, including naps. Set a bedtime routine. Doing the same things in order every night helps your child know what to expect and sleep better.
Sit and play, read, and talk to your child. Don’t worry about having playdates and organized activities at this age.
Managing a picky eater can be easier when you offer new foods at the start of meals when your child is hungry. Make food simple and recognizable.
Going to the playground, joining a gymnastics or dance class, or running races in your backyard allows your child to release excess energy and gain new skills.
Preschoolers need 11 to 12 hours of sleep each day. There’s wiggle room about exact sleep times — the most important thing is to develop good, consistent habits for getting to sleep.
Help your child play with other children. Preschool and play groups can be a great way for children to learn to interact.
Swap junk food with fruits and vegetables for snacks. Find at least one healthy item from each food group that your child likes, and make sure it is readily available most of the time.
Make time for your child to be active every day. Limit TV and computer time to one hour a day or less.
School-age children need plenty of sleep to learn and develop socially. Have your child go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
Children this age make new friends often and become more empathetic. Talk about the qualities that make a good friend and how your child can show these qualities to others.
Help your teen choose healthy snacks, make wise food choices at fast food restaurants, and not skip meals. Make it a point to eat meals together at home as often as you can.
Encourage your teen to use screen time to move with video dance games or virtual sports simulators. Suggest they break up long periods of sitting with activities like yoga stretches.
Growing teens need a lot of sleep. If your teen is going to bed at a very late hour, suggest that they go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until the best bedtime is reached.
Social connections help teens feel good about themselves. Encourage your teen to join a social group, club, or sports team at school, or volunteer for a cause they care about.
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It can be hard to accept that your child may be bullying other children. But once you recognize the problem, you can help solve it by helping your child learn how his or her actions affect others. Being sensitive to others’ feelings (empathy) is largely a learned skill that you can teach your child.
Healthy Eating for Children
Healthy eating means eating a variety of foods so that your child gets the nutrients (such as protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, and minerals) he or she needs for normal growth. If your child regularly eats a wide variety of basic foods, he or she will be well-nourished.
Healthy Beginnings Prenatal Newsletter, Issue 10 (Postpartum: Breastfeeding and Baby Care)
This series keeps you informed about your pregnancy every step of the way. It includes stage-specific information on the baby’s growth, changes in the mother’s body, how to get ready for a new baby, and much more.