Tips for Keeping Kids Healthy During the Summer Months
By Taylor Smith
Summer is a time when kids can spend their days outside the confines of a classroom and instead participate in playdates, swimming adventures, travel, camp, and exploration. It provides a wonderful opportunity for children to grown cognitively and emotionally without the confines of a regimented schedule. However, it can also be a time when children are exposed to new germs, risks, and illnesses. Here are a few tips for ensuring a healthy and happy summer for your family.
1. Set Good Sleep Habits
It is crucial that children (and teenagers) get adequate amounts of consistent, quality sleep on a daily basis. Even though they may not be required to run to the school bus stop every morning, sleep still plays a significant role in maintaining a child’s physical, emotional, and even digestive health.
2. Provide a Brain-Boosting Breakfast
Many pediatricians maintain that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. A balanced breakfast that is rich in vitamins, nutrients, and protein will set your entire family up for a productive, high-energy day. For example, fresh fruit, eggs, whole grain toast, unsweetened oatmeal, and turkey bacon instead of Pop Tarts, granola bars, boxed cereal or other overly-processed sweets.
3. Learn About Head Lice Prevention
As unappealing as it is to acknowledge, head lice is a common occurrence among groups of children. Head lice is often spread through sharing hats, helmets, blankets, hairbrushes, and other personal items. During the summertime, camp, daycare, slumber parties, and sports activities are common sources of head lice infection. Contrary to popular belief, contracting lice has nothing to do with poor personal hygiene. The best way to handle a lice infestation is to treat the hair with medicated shampoo; comb out the nits; vacuum any areas that you think might be infested; and wash linens, clothing, and towels with hot water followed by a hot dryer.
4. Prevent Sunburn and Heat-Related Illnesses
All children and adults should use sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 and UVA and UVB protection anytime they go outside. Also, covering up in light-colored, breathable, loose clothing with help to protect against potential UV ray damage. Even just a few serious sunburns can increase a person’s risk of skin cancer later in life. In terms of heat-related illnesses, children up to age 4 are at the greatest risk. Headache, dizziness, fast pulse, confusion, and nausea are potentially life-threatening indications of heat stroke or heat exhaustion. These conditions can be brought on by physical exercise in intense heat, dehydration, and/or prolonged sun exposure. The person in question should be moved to a cooler place and given wet cool towel or a cool bath to lower their body temperature. Parents and caregivers are also advised to call 911 for assistance.
5. Practice Water Safety
If swimming in pools, lakes, ponds, or the ocean, children must be closely monitored at all times by an adult, preferably an on-duty lifeguard who is certified in first aid. Accidents can happen in a matter of seconds, and children who can’t swim well should be accompanied by an adult at all times. When boating, children must wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets that are also the correct size. When at the beach, swimmers must stay within the designated swimming area within the visibility of a lifeguard. Families must take heed of ripe current warnings and stay close to shore. In the case of a strong undertow, individuals should swim parallel to shore. Also, remember to never swim alone!