The new school year is a reminder for parents to make sure their children are up to date with annual physicals, immunizations, and other wellness support. Adolescents ages 12-21 can receive specialized health services at NYC Health + Hospitals Youth Health neighborhood centers in all five boroughs. The centers provide safe and confidential services specially developed for this age group, including mental health care, healthy weight management, and sexual and reproductive health services.
“It’s important for parents and caregivers to instill healthy habits in kids and adolescents from an early age,” said Warren Seigel, MD, Chair of Pediatrics, NYC Health + Hospitals. “Teaching kids to make healthy food choices, find creative ways to stay active, and limit time in front of the TV and on video games, can provide lifelong benefits.”
NYC Health + Hospitals offers parents a list of tips to help kids get ready for a healthy year:
- Annual Physical: Yearly physicals are important to ensure children are growing and developing properly. Moreover, insurance plans cover the annual physical, so schedule a 2016 visit today.
- Vision and Hearing Tests: Children should have their hearing tested before starting school and their vision tested 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.
- Flu Shot: The flu is highly contagious 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, preferably as early as October, but it’s not too late even once winter arrives.
- Other Vaccinations: Vaccines are necessary to help protect children and others against disease. Sometimes recommendations about when to have children vaccinated change. Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have questions about your child’s immunization schedule.
- Nutrition: Encourage kids to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and choose water, not juice or soda. When serving bread or pasta, choose 100% whole grain products. Check out this nutrition resource guide for parents featuring fun activities for kids to learn about nutrition.
- Routines: Consistent routines help keep children alert and productive during the school year and can help avoid problems at bedtime. Afterschool routines should include:
o A healthy snack before homework.
o One hour of physical activity.
o Screen time (whether handheld, computer, or TV) limited to two hours maximum.
o A pre-bedtime routine, such as bathing, brushing teeth, and reading together.
- 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 should sleep 9 -12 hours every night plus naps throughout the day, ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- Toddlers 1 to 2 years should sleep 11-14 hours, including naps.
- Children 3 to 5 years should sleep 11 to 13 hours. Their naps should get shorter and happen less often.
- Kids 6 to 13 years should sleep 9 to 11 hours.
- Teenagers 14+ years should sleep 8 to 10 hours.
Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have questions about your child’s health or immunization status.