Spring clean their health
Christine Kempell asks the experts for their essential advice
It’s another New Year and time to start thinking about those resolutions. Perhaps yours is to exercise more. Or maybe you’ve decided to clear the clutter from your home and made a solemn vow not to eat Brussels sprouts ’til next December’ (at least you’re guaranteed not to break that one).
This year, why not make your resolution to take a good look at your children’s health? Check out what our experts say about the kind of things we need to do to keep the nippers in tip-top condition for the year ahead.
Dr Anna Zickerman-Quinn
What can we do to keep our kids in the best possible health?
Encourage them to play outdoors when the weather allows – keeping them physically active is key. Ensure they consume a healthy, well-balanced diet and plenty of water. Avoid excessive use of TV and computer games. Quality time with parents, family and friends is the recipe for a happy, harmonious child. Also try to make sure they get enough sleep so they do not wake up tired.
How much exercise do you recommend children have?
This depends on their age. Exercise does not have to be formal but should form a part of play, chasing round the house, cycling to the park or dancing to music. General recommendations are that children should be formally active between one to two hours per day, depending on their age. Exercise allows them to work their motor skills, balance, hand-eye co-ordination and strength. Playing on computer games do not count!
Do you advise kids to have regular health checks?
Certainly in the beginning, as a child develops it is important to make sure nothing is missed. As they grow older their school usually arranges regular check ups, which takes that onus off the parent.
Dr T D Griffiths
How often should children visit the dentist?
Ideally you should take your kids to the dentist every six months but if you have any worries then don’t hesitate to call sooner. Dentists are always happy to see children sooner rather than later to address any concerns. Be prepared to re-arrange though if they aren’t in the right frame of mind to visit the dentist, especially when they are very little.
What age should kids switch from baby toothpaste to the real stuff?
Adult toothpaste should be used from 22 months old as the adult tooth enamel is formed under gums then. Fluoride mouthwash is good when they get older, but there’s no need to floss until adulthood.
When is a good time to start them with braces? Do all kids need them?
Dentist usually assess for orthodontic treatment at nine years and again at 12- to 14 years. Fixed braces are the gold standard, usually fitted at around 12 years of age and they are worn for at least 18 months, but not all children will need them.
What are the causes of dental problems in children?
Problems with diet mostly. It is so important for children to maintain a healthy diet for their teeth. Some children still have baby teeth at 14 years of age so it’s well worth looking after them.
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