How can I be sure that my child is getting a healthy diet and exercising enough?
Well, let’s start with exercising. That’s a lot easier to tell. When children are young, exercise is play and what you wanna see is if they’re playing hard and being active every day. The child should play a lot, that’s their primary job as a young child is to be engaged in play. And that should be active vigorous play as much as they can handle. It’s hard to play too much.
And by play, you know, getting up and moving whether that’s outdoors or indoors. Starting to use a push bike at a young age or a tricycle, using a bicycle, a scooter. Of course, I would recommend using helmets with those activities as well to prevent head injuries. Great examples of early sports or organized activities that a child may be ready for is sometimes some gymnastics or early swimming lessons. And those are really just to teach kind of body control and movements. Those are usually done with the parent involved. Later on some early team sports can be T-ball or soccer, those are often available for you know, 4 and 5-year-olds to just start introducing the fun of playing together with other children. And a lot of that has to do with their developmental readiness to do so. Most kids aren’t ready to understand simple rules and cooperate together until about that age.
As a child gets older into their school years, it’s recommended to get about one hour of active play every day. Active play is what it sounds like, again it’s movement, it’s just getting up, whether it’s you know, riding the bike, walking the dog, going to the park, going swimming, playing with your friends. It’s getting up and getting off the couch and being active, you know, make your heart beat go up a little bit you know, get engaged there.
As a child gets older through their teen years, you know, we would still recommend they get active, you know, engagement every day. The models would look more like they would for an adult but still recommend to get active play as often as you can, or some sort of physical activity that raises the heart rate and improves cardiovascular health.
How can I tell if my child is eating a healthy diet?
It’s a good question because there’s so much information about diet and nutrition available right now. And you hear a lot of things about gluten-free or paleo or low carb. Or you know, diets that are more whole food oriented, diets that are high in vegan, you know, high in plant material or exclusively vegan. It’s hard to know which one of these is best for your child.
I would say that with anything, typically for kids, I would not recommend a very restrictive diet unless you have certain cultural or religious beliefs that prevent that. In those cases, definitely talk to your pediatrician about how to make sure your child gets enough nutrients. Especially if you’re excluding an entire category of food such as animal products. I would also recommend that a child not be started on a very high protein or keto type diet unless under the supervision of a physician as well, as they do need more carbohydrate than adults.
The question is how to do it in a way that makes sure they still get adequate nutrition from plant sources.