7 Ways to Keep Your Kids Healthy this School Year

girl with milk moustache holds glass of milk

It’s here before you know it- back to school. The start of the school year can be exciting for kids, but a touch stressful for parents as this means we will be entering cold and flu season soon. But keeping our little ones healthy is the sum of many small efforts.

Here’s a fresh take on how to keep your kids healthy and prepared for this upcoming school year. And it starts with you.

A Doctor’s Note to Moms:

Moms are some of the most selfless people out there. They are amazing caregivers to everyone around them, but easily forget to be there for themselves. But for a child to build lifelong healthy habits, they are looking at you. How often do they see you wash your hands? What do you do when you cough or sneeze? Do you prioritize sunscreen and sunglasses before heading out for a day in the sun?

We know the easy tips for staying healthy, but monkey see, monkey do. Make healthy living a routine part of daily conversation. Without pressure or criticism, just be the example of the healthy adult you hope your child grows to become. Make sure you are prioritizing your health and using the tips below in your own routine.

stethoscope, mask, and hand holding a paper heart

1. Hand hygiene

This is hands down {pun intended} one of the most effective concepts to pass on to a child. Kids really have a lot of fun learning about little “germies” and washing them away. A quick search online can show some fun germ experiments and activities you can do with your kids during these final days before they get back to school. Help teach your kids that we wash our hands not only to protect us from getting sick, but to care for others and prevent them from being sick too.

For little kids and teens alike, here are some key reminders of when to wash your hands:

  • The obvious- after using the restroom
  • The forgotten- before you eat
  • The breeding ground- after using public play areas
  • The life skill-  before, during, and after preparing food
  • The spreader- after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose

While hand sanitizer is a great option if no water is around, water and soap should always be your go-to. Practice together while singing your 20 second song of choice. If your child has play dates in your home, a quick sanitizing wipe down of shared toys can go a long way.

boy holding up painted hands in front of face

2. Healthy Food Choices

Fresh and unprocessed foods are so powerful to our immune system. We would not be where we are today with modern medicine without the lessons we have learned from mother nature. Make conscious efforts to choose the apple slices over the chips the next time you are loading up on school snacks. I recommend including a protein in every breakfast for longer-lasting energy.

I know eating healthy 100% of the time can be near impossible. Sometimes there’s just not enough time or mom energy to make it happen. {Don’t worry- I won’t judge you if your sandwiches weren’t cut into perfectly cute shapes.} But the small efforts we make to be more aware of food choices for our kids do add up, and it will slowly shift the way we and our kids approach food.

If you want to dive even deeper, it’s time to stop ignoring nutrition labels. Dedicate some time to learn what ingredients to avoid- you would be surprised how many popular brands do not meet the mark. These skills can be passed on to your child and being a proactive consumer of nutritious foods will soon be second nature. Just telling a child to eat healthy doesn’t work- we have to show them how.

lunchbox full of healthy food

3. Sleep Hygiene

Summertime can be a big disruptor to our kid’s sleep routine.  It is important to get back into a good sleep routine before starting school and as school continues on. Sleep is another major factor that can impact a child’s health. Lack of quality sleep {keyword being quality} can affect not only their physical health, but their mental health as well. 

Depending on their age, it is recommended that children and adolescents get anywhere from 8 to 11 hours of quality sleep a night. So put away those phones and tablets and hit the pillows at a reasonable hour!

4. Keep Active!

Kids in summer mode are either way more active than usual, or way less. They are either go-go-go on vacations, in camps or outside with their friends, or they are sitting in front of the TV or computer watching shows and gaming. Whatever the case is, keep your kids active during the school year. This can come in the form of school activities, outside sports programs, or simply making it a point to ride bikes as a family during the week or play basketball in the driveway. To keep your kids healthy, it is recommended that kids get 60 minutes of physical activity a day and limit screen time to 2 hours a day.

preschool kids playing soccer

5. Schedule Your Child’s Annual Visit + Sports Physical

If your child plans on participating in any physical activity or sport at school, I highly recommend getting a sports physical, even if your school program doesn’t require it. This is always a great time to talk about concerns or potential issues for the upcoming year, and make sure any vaccines or recommended lab testing are done.

For your kids in sports, don’t forget to reinforce hydration and taking breaks when out in the sun to prevent heat injuries. 90% of kids say they play sports for “fun”. But dehydration can quickly strip the fun out of any activity.

Get this on the calendar, ladies! And while you’re at it, schedule that dental visit too.

6. Be Prepared for Medical Emergencies

Plan ahead! Keep acetaminophen and ibuprofen in good supply in your home medicine cabinet. Double check you have a working thermometer. If your child has any medications, make sure they are available at school and make sure your child and his/her teacher(s) are aware if they may need to use them. The same goes with any equipment or medical devices. If your child has a unique medical condition that is at risk for an unexpected medical emergency {for example: severe allergies, seizure history, low blood sugar}, create a step by step plan with your doctor. Then share this document with your child’s primary teacher and school nurse. 

7. Continue Year-Long Safety Habits

This is a friendly reminder that preventing physical injuries is another way of being proactive in our child’s health.

Here are my top tips:

  • Always use a seatbelt and appropriate car seats. Replace car seats if your car was involved in any moderate to severe crashes.
  • Put the helmet on every time, even if they stay on the driveway. Remember, sometimes it’s just about building habits.
  • Teach kitchen safety around sharp tools and hot appliances.
  • Have a family fire drill.
  • Exercise water safety at all times- never leave little ones unattended, even in the bathtub. Use life jackets when out on open water and for inexperienced swimmers.
  • Teach safe street habits.
  • Backpack awareness: heavy backpacks can cause significant neck, shoulder, and back pain. Make sure your child’s backpack is not more than 10-20% of their weight. This will help prevent any posture problems as well.

boy wearing life jacket stands on dock of lake

Cheers to a healthy and safe school year!


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