Sunday, November 22, 2009

Keeping My Child Healthy

Recent happenings in our home had me reflect on the changes we've made and the practices we have that aim to keep him healthy. Firstly, my husband and I talked about how important it is that our kids be healthy. That meant having to improve on certain practices from the families we came from and learn, basically, from our parents' mistakes and bad habits.

And then of course, there was that decision for me to be a stay-at-home Mom (SAHM). This way, I was able to ensure that I can monitor what happens to my child and what he eats. There was never a desire to be obsessive about it, but we wanted to be vigilant about keeping him healthy.

So I breastfed. Despite the struggles and exhaustion and my own mother pushing me to mix-feed, I kept at breastfeeding. My own husband even went to two breastfeeding seminars with me so he could fully support me. I roomed in my child as soon as his pedia allowed it, so we could breastfeed everytime he wanted to and so that my loving touch could also help boost his yet immature immune system.

We exposed him to morning sun rays and people, but do not frequent crowded places and certainly do not take him everywhere. And we had the necessary vaccines administered to him on time. It's also great that he had a main pedia and an HMO-pedia to turn to when he gets sick.

When he started solids, we were faithful with mashed vegetables aside from commercially-prepared baby food. And when his pedia declared he could have table food already, we sustained him with long-trusted Filipino dishes that are rich in vegetable broth like tinola, sinigang and nilaga. We could have fed him brown rice for a healthier fare, I guess, but since we use white rice, we just prepare his meals part-rice and part-vegetable. I also puree different vegetables together with some meat and make this into soups for his rice, not only for variety in taste but also variety in nutrition.

There are seldom junk food (say, chocolates) in the house and these treats are given in controlled portions and not everyday. Of course, we allow him ice cream and cake and cookies, but as treats after a good meal, and not as snacks. And softdrinks and other instant powdered juice are definitely out of the question.

We also give him fresh milk over powdered milk for kids, which is usually sweeter. Too much sweets in one's diet compromises the immune system, after all, so I really made sure that if he wants sweets, he will get them from fruits instead. My son is a slave to bananas, grapes, apples and pineapples. And we avoid processed food (except maybe cheese) as much as we can for they often contain high amounts of sodium. So for snacks, my son has biscuits and crackers or corn on the cob or porridge or oatmeal, not chips.

One other healthy habit that I developed is checking food labels. Some brands come out with supposedly kid-friendly snacks but if you check out the label, they're high in sugar and salt.

But health is not just nutrition. Exercise is also very, very important. So aside from letting my child run about, instead of keeping him confined, we also make sure to limit TV time. And we don't buy him video games and other personal gaming consoles because we'd rather he engages in play where he'd actually move. We let him stack his blocks, play his guitar or drums or go jumping on the bed instead. And we look for TV programs that require dancing to get him moving as well.

When the weather is good, we take him outdoors. Last summer, we also enrolled him in swimming class so he'd learn to swim early and to strengthen his lungs. When we have money and time for trips, we also generally make sure there's swimming involved so he can play without getting too hot. And seldom do we take him to a mall for entertainment, usually it's really for errands and we allow him to help now by pushing the cart.

My son is only two. Feeding him will continue being a challenge as he grows more and more independent and smart. Making sure he also continues being active will also be a challenge. But we remain believers in the value of good nutrition and healthy habits for our son. It's actually not that hard now, what with more and more websites like Immunity Foundation providing tips and tricks in keeping kids healthy and more and more parents being aware of how our own habits in childhood resulted in diabetes and hypertension problems in our 30s. But still, I hope more parents will quit with the fastfood treats and mall trips and go to the park instead.

And yes, now am assured we've laid a great foundation for my son's resistance.

No comments: