A healthy start to a new school year starts with a visit to your child’s doctor. Dr. Warren Seigel, Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island, offers seven tips to help you prepare your kids for a healthy year:
1. Annual Physicals: Every year, before your child goes back to school, make sure they visit their doctor. Yearly physicals are important to ensure children are growing and developing properly.
2. Vision and Hearing Tests: Children should have their hearing tested before starting school, and vision exams once per year starting at six months of age. Watch for signs of hearing or vision loss and talk to your child’s doctor if you notice any changes.
3. Flu Shots: The flu is a contagious illness that infects the nose, throat, and lungs and can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications, especially for children. Every child six months or older should get the flu shot once every year. Flu season changes every year but can start as early as November.
4. Other Vaccinations: Vaccines are necessary to help protect children and others against disease. In New York City, all students two months to 18 years must get their age-appropriate vaccinations in order to attend childcare or school.
Check the NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene website to find the latest information on vaccine requirements for your child. You can also find more details by visiting the NYC Department of Education website.
NYC Health + Hospitals also offers the HPV vaccine for both boys and girls. The vaccine against HPV can help prevent certain types of cancer.
5. Nutrition: You can help your kids make healthy food choices – even at school.
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Encourage them to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. When eating bread or pasta, choose 100% whole grain products. Encourage them to choose water, not juice or soda.
Check out this nutrition resource guide for parents that has information for you and fun projects and activities for kids to learn about nutrition.
6. Routines: Consistent routines help keep children alert and productive during the school year and can be a life-saver when it comes to avoiding problems at bedtime.
Afterschool routines should include:
- A healthy snack before homework.
- One hour of physical activity.
- Screen time limited to two hours maximum (whether handheld, computer, or TV).
- A pre-bedtime routine such as bathing, brushing their teeth, and reading together.
7. Sleep: Adequate sleep helps keep kids focused each day at school and is important for their health.
- Newborns 0 to 3 months should sleep 10.5-18 hours every day. They may sleep from a few minutes to several hours at one time.
- Babies 4 to 11 months: 9-12 hours every night plus naps throughout the day, ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- Toddlers 1 to 2 years: 11-14 hours, including naps.
- Children 3 to 5 years: 11-13 hours. Their naps should get shorter and happen less often.
- Kids 6 to 13 years: 9-11 hours.
- Teenagers 14+ years: 8-10 hours.
NYC Health + Hospitals offers expert pediatric and adolescent health services at little or no cost.
Here are locations in Harlem.
NYC Health + Hospitals/ Gotham Health, Sydenham
264 West 118th Street
NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue
462 First Ave
- Back to School Fair: Aug. 28, 11am – 3pm (View flyer)
NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem
506 Lenox Ave
NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan
1901 First Ave
- Back to School Vaccination & Physical Drive: Sep. 21, 10am – 4pm (View flyer)
To make an appointment at any location, call 1-844-NYC-4NYC or 1-844-692-4692