This guest blog written by Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough, pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Summer is winding down and the anticipation of another school year is winding up. Your kids may be excited to pick out new backpacks and school supplies and figure out who’s in their class. But there are other things to consider — like heart health and nutrition.
Help your child go to the head of the class with these 4 healthy tips:
1. Take a crash course in nutrition.
Balanced, healthy foods belong in the lunchbox. Good nutrition promotes learning and helps keep sugar crashes and growling bellies at bay. Choose foods that are high in protein such as low-fat string cheese, yogurt, turkey roll-ups or hard-boiled eggs. (Check before sending any nut products as your child’s school may be nut-free.)
Pair these choices with your child’s favorite fresh fruits and vegetables, such as apples, grapes, bananas, mandarin oranges, sliced cucumber, strips of peppers, edamame and sugar snap peas. Avoid packing high-sugar beverages such as sports drinks, soda or sugary juice. Milk or water are the best choices. Some schools allow snacks, but steer clear of snack cakes, cookies and candies.
2. Make sleep a priority.
The school routine can be challenging for kids whose sleep schedule has matched the relaxed vibes of summer. An earlier bedtime can be a struggle, especially since it might still be bright outside at bedtime.
Start moving bedtime earlier three to four weeks before schools starts. Help kids wind down by stopping electronics (tablets, TV, phones) an hour before bedtime. And consider a ban on electronic use in the bedroom to give brains a chance to settle without the added distraction.
3. Keep tabs on medications.
Many kids don’t have their medications at school, putting them in potential danger. You and your school need to have those lifesaving medications on hand to deal with issues such as asthma, food allergies or seizures. Give a spare set to the school, along with a permission form from your health care provider. Planning for the worst-case scenario will help ensure your child gets help fast.
4. Check in with your child’s health care provider.
Make sure vaccines are up to date and annual physicals are scheduled. Summer can be busy in pediatric practices, so don’t wait until the last minute.
Are you and your family ready for the new school year?
Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough has been a general pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University for five years.