By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Beyond routine vaccinations required for school, you can do much more for helping your children stay healthy this year. Of course, supporting good health is important year-round; however, it’s easy to let a few things slide during the long, lazy days of summer.
• “The transition from summer to school typically means going from one type of schedule to another. Children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. Kids tend to get seven to eight and in summer, that can vary quite a bit. Kids that are sleeping well will have better performance at school, better behavior and will be more prepared to engage in school activities.
• “Avoid sugary snacks and beverages.
• “Make sure they stay hydrated with water.
• “Hand washing is the most important thing any of us can do to avoid the common cold. Developing good hand washing technique will pay off, especially in the winter months. They should use warm water and soap and wash long enough.”
Physician Michael Mendoza, commissioner of public health, Monroe County Department of Public Health.
• “Make sure that the kids are eating properly. Breakfast is key to good learning.
• “Teach kids to cough into their elbow, not their hands, to avoid spreading germs.
• “Discuss any concerns with their pediatrician.
• “Continue to get them outside as weather permits. Play is a good learning tool to ignite their imagination and outdoor play is good exercise.
• “Try to stay away from fast food. You don’t have to be perfect. It’s about balance. We don’t say kids should never have an Orange Crush, but if that’s the only source of hydration, that’s not good for health.
• “When children are very small, they’re willing to try new things. Try to get some variety and new recipes to get excited about so they’ll eat new vegetables. There’s nothing wrong with a few cookies, but the less processed food is, the better. Why not bake your own things? The more you can prepare your own food, the better and healthier things tend to be.”
Nurse Mary L. Beer, public health director, Ontario County Health
• “Flu shots are not required by schools, but we are encouraging flu vaccine for children. Influenza can be a deadly virus. People lose sight of that. People think they don’t need it if they didn’t get it last year. We’re not having such bad flu seasons because people are getting vaccinated. But not vaccinating can contribute to having a bad flu season.
• “Kids in sports should think about getting ready ahead of time because you can’t all of a sudden play football if you’re out of shape. Think about exercise anyways. That’s important for health.
• “Unfortunately, you have to start talking about ‘stranger danger’ and being wary of people you don’t know and inappropriate advances from people they know.”
Pediatrician Edward Lewis, Lewis Pediatrics in Rochester.