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Your back-to-school recipe for raising healthy kids

Your back-to-school recipe for raising healthy kids

It might feel like summer just began, but it’s back-to-school time already. Between shopping for the perfect new backpack and choosing a first day of school outfit, sneak in some time for building healthy kids.

Building healthy kids? Yes, you read that right! You probably realize by now that the habits built in childhood can stick with you into adulthood. That goes for both the good habits and the bad ones, so you might as well help your kids develop healthy habits now.

As the new school year begins, take the time to establish habits and routines that will benefit your entire family, kids included. Our University Medical Center New Orleans team shares some tips below to help you get started.

Planning ahead for a healthy school year

As the kids start back to school, take some time to find routines that work for your family—both school routines and household routines that will help set up each day for success.

One routine for kids—and adults—that’s particularly important is a set schedule for sleep. During the summer, kids usually go to sleep later at night and wake up later in the morning. That’s totally normal, but it’s time to hit the reset button.

Don’t just change bedtime overnight and expect your kids to wake up early on the first day of school. To prepare your little ones for an early school schedule, move bedtime back five minutes earlier one night, then another five minutes earlier a few days later, eventually getting to a set bedtime appropriate for school nights.

Your kids will also need to wake up earlier on school mornings, so set their bedtimes early enough to allow them to wake fully rested. Go through the morning routine for school to make sure you have a routine that works for your family, setting you up for leaving the house on time each day.

Expect resistance if you spring these routines on your kids unexpectedly—going through them step by step ahead of time will teach your kids what you expect and set them up for a good day at school.

Other habits for healthy kids

Wondering what other habits you should teach your kids? You probably have a pretty good understanding of the basics of a healthy lifestyle—those are also the habits your kids need. Start here:

  • Make being active a way of life. Experts recommend that kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Encourage your kids to play actively during their free time, and be a good role model by having an exercise routine of your own.
  • Offer healthy meals and snacks. Make fruits and vegetables easily accessible for a quick and healthy snack choice. Pack your kids a balanced lunch, complete with fruits and veggies, protein (think peanut butter or turkey), and a bit of healthy fat, like what’s found in avocado or nuts. At dinner time, teach them about the foods that can fuel their body most efficiently.
  • Strike the right digital balance. Keep a careful eye on your kids’ screen time and encourage them to choose other activities that don’t involve a screen. Setting time limits on devices and then having them put the electronics away is a good idea.

The tips listed above are a great step in the right direction toward raising healthy kids, but we saved the best tip for last. Encourage your kids with love—and give them the best possible example of what healthy living looks like.

If it’s been a while since your child’s last checkup, it’s a good time to get one on the calendar! Schedule an appointment with a University Medical Center New Orleans primary care provider at our Tulane Medicine Clinic or LSU Family Medicine Clinic.