Toddler health is extremely important. Not only for keeping your child healthy, active and out of the hospital now, but also for setting the foundations for a healthy childhood, healthy adolescence and healthy adulthood.
How much time do you spend thinking about your child's health? Are you giving it the central place you should? When our toddlers are not sick we can become guilty of just going with whatever works. They like junk food, and it’s easy to give it to them. They don’t get as dirty sitting watching TV as they do playing outside. And it’s easier to cook if you can just warm something from a can. Does health have to be something we actually work on when life is good?
It does! Your toddler’s body is constantly hard at work, and it’s up to you to support that work by keeping him healthy.
Some of the chief ways to support toddler health are by making sure your child has enough:
• Nutritious Food
• Outdoor Play
It’s also important that you keep your toddler child clean, teach him to wash up after using the bathroom, and limit his contact with sick children.
Your toddler is what he eats—well, not really, but almost. Everything he eats gets on the fast track to be incorporated into his growing, active body, so it’s important that everything he eats is as healthy as it can possibly be.
Cans and processed foods are okay every now and then, but cook from scratch if possible. It doesn’t take as long as you’d think, especially if you buy pre-cleaned, prepared fresh vegetables and manageable pieces of meat.
Toddlers should have well-balanced diet consisting of grains, fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, eggs, and some fat. If you want to avoid any of these major food groups in your child’s diet you need to first talk to your pediatrician and make sure your toddler will be getting the nutrition he needs in an alternate way. If you’d rather not give him red meat, for instance, make sure he has plenty of fish, chicken, lentils, and eggs. Fat is absolutely essential for growing toddlers, and you should never put your child on a fat free diet.
For more information on toddler nutrition and how it relates to toddler health please visit my page on the subject.
Exercise is also very important to your toddler’s health; in general, a moving toddler is a healthy toddler. That doesn’t mean you need to enroll your toddler in organized gym class: just provide him with plenty of opportunities for active play around the house. If your little one is quiet and prefers to sit in a corner watching cartoons to romping around the backyard, you may have to do some gentle encouraging. Limit screentime to no more than an hour a day. Play active games with your child; games like tag or hop-races. For more information on toddler exercise, please visit the exercise page.
Outdoor play is another important aspect of your toddler’s health. Outdoor play not only helps your child get the exercise he needs, it also gives him vitamin D from the sun. The fresh air and ever changing temperature of outdoors will brace your toddler’s body and help him become immune to colds.
If your toddler has fair skin or the sun is particularly strong where you live you’ll need to make sure he has adequate protection whenever he goes out. Choose a natural child-safe sunscreen that offers adequate protection, and use it faithfully. Childhood burns can become skin cancer when your toddler becomes an adult.
During temperate weather, a healthy toddler can spend most of the day outdoors. During cold winter, autumn or spring indoors will be headquarters, but it’s still important to take your child out regularly and let him enjoy the changing seasons.
Toddler health is not something that can be forgotten about, but it’s not something to get miserable and stressed over either! Have fun raising that healthy, happy toddler of yours!