The apple of your eye may look like your 'mini-me', but did you know that their physical and dietary needs are very different to those of adults? Take a look at these handy tips on how to make sure that your little one gets all of the nourishment and exercise that he/she needs.
Kids dehydrate easily
Water makes up a greater proportion of a child’s body, and children have faster metabolisms, which means that their systems need more water to run smoothly. Your child will probably only ask for a drink when he/she is already well on his or her way to being dehydrated so be sure to offer water and ice lollies throughout the day. Young children should be drinking at least four glasses of water a day, while older kids may need up to eight glasses of water per day.
Keep them moving
Your child needs to do exercise that can strengthen their growing bones, for at least an hour every day. Most effective are weight-bearing exercises, like running around, dancing, and strength training, using the weight of their own little bodies - such as hanging from monkey bars.
Boost their fat and calcium intake
Both kids and grown-ups need plenty of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins to ensure the proper and healthy function of their bodies. However, very young children need a little more fat due to the fact that they burn more body fat than adults do. Kids also need more calcium, because childhood is a time of turbo bone growth. Of course, most of their fat intake should come from healthy foods, such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts, rather than from candy bars and junk foods. While kids don’t necessarily need a separate calcium supplement, it’s smart to give them plenty of leafy greens and dairy products, such as full cream yogurt and milk.
Adequate sleep promotes growth-hormone activity, so, quite literally, kids need sleep to get bigger and stronger. On average most toddlers need about 12 to 14 hours a day (including naps), while kids ages five to twelve need 10 to 11 hours of shut-eye per day. It is also important to ensure that you limit screen time before bed - the TV, computer and smart device - as studies show that the light emitted by everything from TVs to iPods can suppress melatonin, a hormone that is necessary for sleep.
It is also important to ensure that you take your little ones for regular check-ups with their paediatrician – not only will this ensure that they are in tip-top health, but it will also ensure that any ailments are caught before they exacerbate. If you feel that you need to get your child to the doctor, be sure to check out the various health care providers that are recommended by your health scheme provider.