Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Military Life Giving Your Child a Happy, Healthy Start

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Military Life Giving Your Child a Happy, Healthy Start

Article excerpt

Every mother and father wants to raise a happy, healthy, well-adjusted child. Service members are no exception. Since most healthy behaviors are developed in childhood, you can help your child get off to a good start with good habits, actions and choices to promote health and happiness. Here are some ways to help your kids get healthy and happy.

START WITH NUTRITION

Health and happiness begins with good nutrition. Healthy foods provide the building blocks for a healthy body and can even help us fight disease. As a parent, help your child develop healthy eating habits as early as possible.

5210 Healthy Military Children is a program for military children and families. For good nutrition, the program suggests:

* Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day

* Avoiding all sweetened beverages and limit juice. Do not give juice to infants under 6 months.

Encouraging your child to eat and drink:

* fat-free or low-fat dairy products

* whole grains like whole-wheat bread and brown rice

* lean protein, such as eggs, poultry, unsalted nuts and seeds.

Breakfast is especially important for children. Hungry kids tend to have shorter attention spans and can have difficulty with problem solving, math skills and memory recall.

ENCOURAGE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

The 5210 program also suggests children should have:

* 2 or fewer hours of recreational screen time a day

* 1 or more hours of physical activity every day

Exercise for your young one can include school recess periods, hiking, playing sports, or walking to and from school. Being physically active and playing with your child is a wonderful opportunity to get exercise while being together. Here are more resources for activities for your child:

* Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities. Find local activities on your installation

* Installation youth centers. Locate a safe, kid-oriented environment

* Boys & Girls Club of America Military Partnership. These clubs offer lots of great activities for military kids both on and off installation.

PROMOTE GOOD SLEEP HABITS

Sleep is critical to good health. According to the National Institute of Heath, sleep is involved in the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels, and chronic sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of disease. For better sleep habits:

* Have a consistent bedtime and wakeup time, even on the weekends

* Plan an hour of quiet time before bed

* Develop bedtime rituals

* Make sure the bedroom is comfortable and is a positive environment. …

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