Micah is the healthiest and happiest child I know. He doesn't get ear infections, colds, fevers, coughs, etc. I think the last time he was sick it was because he got food poisoning a year ago.
Want to know the secret? There isn't one.
But here are some tips for a healthy child:
- Eat well while you are pregnant, exercise and get sun. You may also want to take some suppliments if you feel your diet is lacking.
- Breastfeed. Even if you work, PUMP. Breastmilk is the only real nutrition for babies. You are giving your child your antibodies to protect them from infections and disease. (You'll also burn an extra 500 colories or so a day producing the stuff.) If you can't breastfeed you can purchase (or get donated to you) another woman's healthy breast milk. Suppliers can (and do) blood tests on the woman so you know your baby is getting quality nutrition.
- Do not start your baby on white rice cereal. It has almost zero real nutrition. Get a baby food mill ($10) and grind veggies, fruit, meat (or not, if you have a vegitarian family) or whatever you and your family are having for dinner that night. Start off with veggies. NOT white rice cereal. It's like feeding your child a spoonful of sugar and can lead to childhood obesity. If you must give them some sort of mush, give them unsweetened oatmeal.
- Set an example with your food choices.
- Let your child cook with you. Teach them about nutrition and where food comes from.
- Let your child explore and get dirty. Too little germ exposure inhibits healthy immune development and promotes disease. Don't slather on the antibacterial soap. Antibacterial soaps, as well as vaccinations and antibiotics, may inhibit healthy immune development. For example, children who contract diseases such as chicken pox or measles develop lifetime immunity to those diseases, whereas children who receive vaccinations require booster shots for continued immunity.
- Worry less about what your child shouldn’t be eating and more about what they should be eating.The foods with the highest micronutrient density as follows: Greens to be highest! (Mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, kale, watercress, brussels sprouts, spinach, etc.) Berries and fruits to be the second highest in nutrients. Beans and nuts to be third.
- Take them food shopping with you, sticking to the outer walls of the supermarket and avoiding the center. (Or better yet, visit your local Farmer's Market and get to know a farmer.) The sections of the supermarket around the outer walls hold the nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, and low-fat dairy. The inner aisles contain processed and snack foods.
- Remember that you CAN eat healthier on a small budget. A bag of snack chips may cost a dollar, but so does a pound of broccoli.
- If your child attends public school, make them a nutritious breakfast in the morning and send them with a bagged lunch to school. A healthy breakfast would include fat/protien (such as eggs/meat), then fruits or veggies, with side notes of grains. (One reason protein and fat are so essential for breakfast is that they are critical for overall brain chemistry balance.) Avoid processed/packadged foods loaded with flour and sugar.For packed lunches, try dinner leftovers, meat and veg rolled in pita, tortillas or multi-grain bread. Avoid starchy, heavy flour breads. Add in some fruit/veg and some water or a juice box with no added sugar.
- Provide vitamins and suppliments if needed. I give Micah a vitamin C daily. Sometimes he also needs extra iron or vitamin B12 or D as well. It all depends on if he's been outside and has been eating right. Children need a daily intake of Vitamin C because it is important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Among the many benefits of Vitamin C for children is that it acts as a powerful anti-oxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory agent that prevents oxygen-based damage to the cells.
- Get outside. Sunlight and exercise is essential. Avoid dousing your child in sunscreen laden with chemicals which can cause irritation/rashes/acne and some scientists beleive it can cause skin cancer or at least enable it. Sunscreen blocks the creation of all-essential vitamin D your child desperately needs to prevent as many as 25 chronic diseases. Notably: prostatecancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis, schizophrenia and heartdisease. Try a homemade sunscreen instead.(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2rZRYG1vYM)
- Read to your child(ren) daily. Reading to your child is one of the most effective ways of building the “language” neural connections in their growing brain. Reading to your child makes you bond with them and this gives your child a sense of intimacy and well-being. It calms your child, especially when they are fretful and restless. It promotes increased communication between you and your child. It promotes longer attention span, which is an important skill for your child to be able to concentrate. It builds listening skills and imagination.
- Assisted streching and massage techniques. Do streching excersises with your child. If you aren't that flexible, have your child lay flat and move their limbs to get some good streches. Good flexibility helps kids perform better in some activities, helps balance, concentration, circulation and helps them avoid injuries. With massage, start when your baby is newborn. Premature infants who were massaged, particularly with kinesthetic stimulation (body stroking and passive movement of the limbs), gained more weight than premature infants without massage. Massage helps manage stress, axiety, asthma, helps enhance the immune system, stimulates motor development and bonding, and even increases IQ. You don't have to take classed to massage your child. Touch is as important to infants and children as eating and sleeping.
- Avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals. Not only would you have to call poison control if your child got into your cleaning closet, but they could develop rashes, chemical burns or permanent neural damage. Most household cleaning can be done with simple, cheap vinegar and baking soda (Not at the same time, except in your toilet. Remember making volcanoes in middle school?). Avoid antibacterial cleaners. Antibacterial products target good bacteria as well as bad, but our bodies need those good bacteria. Labels lie. Companies do not have to disclose all their ingredients. Vinegar naturally cleans like an all-purpose cleaner and the smell dissapates when it dries. Mix a solution of 1 part water to 1 part vinegar in a new store bought spray bottle and you have a solution that will clean most areas of your home. Vinegar is a great natural cleaning product as well as a disinfectant and deodorizer.Baking soda can be used to scrub surfaces in much the same way as commercial abrasive cleansers.
- Make time for your child's health and wellbeing. Your child's physical and mental health comes before anyone elses (and your schedule). Don't find the time. Make the time. Listen to your children. Look at them when they talk to you. They need to feel they are the most important part of your life. If your child is acting out, there is a reason. Find it. But remember that children also thrive on stability and dicipline (not on neglect).
If you're a parent then you know your child better than anyone else and know how to care for them. Please feel free to leave comments or your own tips in the comments!
(Reading material: http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health )