10 Health Mistakes to Avoid With Your Children

Good Morning to you!  I've had a little hiatus in writing the last few weeks but never fear - I'm back and ready to roll out some more insights into your health - and this one is for the kiddies!

Often in clinic I hear of the pitfalls and problems around maintaining children's health by worried and confused parents.  In my opinion there is still not enough practical guidance out there for the most common of health issues that hit the family home.  Over the years I have collated a number of cases that will be presented in later works, but for now - here are my top 10 errors in management of a child's health I see as being the main contributing factors to longer term health issues.

1.  Introduction of solids before 6 months of age - when I was raising my daughter, the 'recommended age' was being changed from 4 months to 6 months after being 6 months and changed to 4 months.  It's no surprise parents are confused!  In my experience the appropriate age isn't a number, its an observation.  Ideally however, you do want to have started a decent solid introduction program between 6 and 8 months.

2.  Introduction of solids when the digestive system is symptomatic - if your baby is coping well in the lead up to the transition on breast milk or formula, their digestive system is considered to be well prepared for the introduction of more complex foods.  If they aren't then measures should be taken to get them ready. Symptoms would include pain, mucus in the stool, blood in the stool, vomiting and reflux.

3.  Forgetting the food first, drink second rule - when transitioning a baby from milk to solids, always introduce the food first and top them up with the milk second.  That way, you teach them to derive their nutrition from a variety of foods vs relying on one substance to provide for them.  This also allows for a wider breeding of beneficial bacteria to grow in their little tummies for greater immune health down the track.

4.  Over hygiene orientation - your child's first 3 years are the most critical in terms of developing the already growing microbiome or gut bacteria organ.  New research shows that this organ contains 10 x the amount of cells than the rest of your child's bodies and in reality - a little dirt and grime actually helps to develop the strains of bacteria in response.  This is not however, a green light to smother them in mud and dog poo for greater health!  Less but frequent exposure is often best - just keep the animal faeces at distance!

5.  Sleep deprivation - I often see tired and poorly behaving children in the clinic who are there for some solution to their unmanageable tantrums.  Getting a routine set in the early years is important for establishing regular sleep patterns, better coping mechanisms to stress (hormones for stress management are reset at certain times of the sleep cycle), and more importantly for growth milestones.

6.  Early antibiotics - although today we are more aware than ever about the negative effects of early introduction of antibiotics, current research really supports that this practice is really putting your child's immune system into a potentially latent state creating a platform for poor surveillance and response to invading bacteria and viruses.  In the food world - culinary herbs like oregano, clove, rosemary and thyme are very effective fighters and supporters, immune enhancing mushrooms (Shiitake and Reishi) have a wide range of immune functions, and of course your therapeutic and fermented foods probiotics are a must.

7.  Giving in to I'm Bored - there are so many options for a child to keep them busy but let them come up with a few themselves and watch them create and flow!  This could be a great time to also get some pesky jobs done in a fun and creative way with them.  If a child is bored, it isn't a sign that you are failing in the entertainment department, they often are asking "I'd like input".

8.  Water monitoring - when a child says they are hungry and are appearing irritable or anxious - try giving them a drink of fresh water instead of food unless they are due to eat.  The thirst and hunger triggers come from the same part of the brain and are often easily mixed up by little ones. As parents we also forget our own cues so if your child has been recently fed and you were satisfied with the volume and content, offer water first...and remember to drink some yourself!

9.  Screen time - it's all over the news, social media and the like - but screen time is easily a trap to keep kids entertained.  Even though we want some peace and quiet, we still also need to keep some vigilance on how long your child's eyes are spending in front of a screen.  Consider some other table/car games you can play with them like Spotto, I Went to the Shops and Bought (memory game), 5 things (they can see, hear, smell, touch, taste) and so on.

10.  Touch for love - in the end most of the deepest healing a child can receive is a genuine cuddle and connection with their parent.  Much research has been done in this area and kids actually thrive when they feel protected and nourished through appropriate and caring human touch.  Have you every heard of a hum bath?  It's a great way to soothe a troubled and anxious child and everyone gets a piece of the healing action.  Email me if you want instructions on how to put this together.

Remember - children are the future of our world and in that hold a lot of promise for paving the way forward, but they need a solid grounded foundation to work from - parents are that foundation...


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