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It's back-to-school time: Time to boost your child’s health

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We know you value your child's health. We also know that back-to-school time can be a chaotic and sometimes stressful time of year. Optimize your child's well-being by practicing these five simple yet effective health tips from our team at SIU Medicine. 

1. Establish a great sleep routine

Kids usually need more sleep than adults, so making sure your child gets enough sleep every night is essential for their overall well-being. According to research, good sleep can even boost academic performance—while inadequate sleep increases the risk of mood problems and sports injury.

Does your child get enough sleep? Here's a quick guide from HealthyChildren.org.

  • Preschoolers (3 to 5 years old): 10 - 13 hours per day (including naps)
  • Grade schoolers (6 to 12 years old): 9 - 12 hours per day
  • High schoolers (13 to 18 years old): 8 - 10 hours per day
     

To help your child sleep better, practice healthy sleep habits in your home. When done regularly, these can help your children (and you!) fall asleep quickly, stay asleep and feel more well-rested in the morning. They include: 

  • Sleeping in a cool dark room (no nightlight, TV or phone)
  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
  • Having a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Being outside in the sun every day for at least 30 minutes
     

2. Schedule the routine examinations your child needs

All children should have regular wellness visits. The frequency depends on your child’s age, but summer time is a great time to bring your school age children for routine doctor appointments. It's important to stay-up-to-date on these visits, because it helps your child avoid  future health issues and ensures their development is going well. Depending on your child's needs, they may need:

  • Eye exams
  • Sports physicals
  • Vaccinations
  • Dentist appointments
     

3. Be backpack smart

Heavy backpacks are a common cause of neck, shoulder and back pain among kids. Help them stay more comfortable with these backpack safety tips:

  • Make sure your child's backpack doesn't weigh more than 20 percent of his/her bodyweight
  • Pack heavier items lower in the bag and closer to the child's back
  • Use backpacks with wide padded straps
  • Encourage your child to use both straps while carrying their bag
     

4. Get your kids moving

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says children between the ages of 6 and 17 should do at least 60 minutes of moderately to vigorously intense physical activity per day. (Parents of 3- to 5-year-olds should encourage their kids to stay active throughout the day.) Not only will regular physical activity support healthy physical development, but it can also improve academic performance, social skills and self-esteem. 

5. Talk to your children about stress

Just like adults, young children and teens experience stress, anxiety and other mental health challenges. Throughout the school year, be sure to talk to them about stress and stress management skills in an age-appropriate way and be ready to show them your support. 

Is your team ready? 

For a wellness check-up, sports physical or any other services that could help your child succeed in school this year, contact SIU Medicine at 217-545-8000.

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