We are going through unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown restrictions imposed to combat it has changed our way of life. It has become harder for children and families to maintain healthy habits. Here we have a few pointers to help you get back on track.
Stick to safe practices while shopping for groceries and vegetables. Adhere to social distancing norms. Wear a mask and keep an alcohol-based sanitizer always in hand when you step out.
Food Handling and Prioritization
Make sure you wash the product properly before consumption. Rinse for 20 to 30 seconds in running water before cleaning them with a vegetable brush or sponge. Categorise your produce into perishables and non-perishables. Consume perishable foods first. Take advantage of whole grains, root vegetables, tubers, dried beans, lentils and nuts which last longer and include them in your child’s diet.
Every child must receive a nutritious diet replete with the right amount of cereals, protein, fruits, vegetables, dairy and nuts. Set meal times and stick to them. Ensure that children eat 3 balanced meals and 2 healthy snacks a day. Encourage them to drink plenty of water (8 to 10 cups a day). Make sure your child eats healthy fats (olive oil, canola oil, sunflower or corn oil). Avoid red meat/processed meat. Limit the intake of sugar, baked snacks, candies, soft drinks and sodas.
If your infant is breastfed, you may continue to do so until 2 years of age.
Be an Active Family
Encourage your child to help you with sweeping, mopping and housekeeping. Make physical activity mandatory yet fun. Engage children in at least 30 minutes of adult-led play (a board game, charades, crafts, anything creative) and 60 minutes of active free play.
A good night’s sleep is a must for both physical and mental well-being. Screen time 2 hours before bedtime must be strictly prohibited. Engage your child in a soothing age-appropriate bedtime ritual.
Have a kit handy with essential medicines to manage common childhood complaints:
Paracetamol for fever
Oral antihistamine for allergies and minor respiratory symptoms
The WHO, ACVIP, IAP and other professional bodies have cautioned against delaying vaccinations indefinitely. If your child is due for a vaccination, do get it done without further delay. Missing out on such vaccines will put your child at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and chickenpox.
Educate and Empower
Teach your children the basics of hand hygiene, hand washing, proper use of a hand sanitizer and cough etiquette. Make them aware of why such measures have been enforced to tackle COVID-19. Tell them that they have to do this to fight the virus and that they too are corona warriors!
Stay positive. Stay healthy.
This too shall pass!
Dr. Lakshmi Prashant, M.D (Pediatrics)
Kauvery Hospital, Chennai