The cost of health care is skyrocketing and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. North American children are overfed, undernourished, inactive, obese, and increasingly – sick. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Preventative health care provides children with the best health possible so they don’t get sick in the first place. The following are 7 ways you can keep your children out of the doctor’s office.
1. Breastfeeding is the most important and crucial piece to keeping your child as healthy as possible. Breastfeeding for two years and beyond gives your child the greatest benefit. Breastfed babies are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized in the first year of life. Earaches, the reason for 80% of doctor’s visits in a child’s first two years, are not only prevented by breastfeeding but bottles have been linked to causing the infections.
Breastmilk contains unique properties that inhibit bacterial and viral growth, critical for survival in the first few perilous months. Breastmilk’s immunological benefits extend to protect your child from whatever illness mother has been exposed to.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of contracting many illnesses, including – asthma, eczema, diabetes, diarrhea, constipation, colic, SIDS, tooth decay, vision defects, Crohn’s, allergies, meningitis and other respiratory infections, childhood cancers, obesity, colitis, urinary tract infections and many more. Breast truly is best!
Resources: Books – The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and Mothering Your Nursing Toddler, available from the La Leche League International.
2. Delay the introduction of solid food for six months or longer. Eating solid foods too early decreases the intake of breastmilk, still the most vital part of your child’s nutrition, and increases the chance of developing food allergies later. When your child shows unmistakable interest in food, avoid giving highly allergenic foods such as wheat and gluten, eggs, nuts, shellfish and dairy. Dairy isn’t necessary for a child who continues to breastfeed.
3. Make your child’s diet a priority. Raw, organic fruits and vegetables should be the core part of your child’s diet. Include plenty of super foods, like blueberries, papayas, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, algae, seaweeds, dark green leaves and other deeply colourful foods. Emphasize whole, unprocessed foods. Add foods made from hemp seeds (nuts, oil, powders, ice cream) in any way you can. Hemp-based foods are a complete protein, with all 20 amino acids, and they have the perfect balance of Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids (essential for brain development).
Avoid foods containing artificial sugars, especially high fructose corn syrup, it only harms the body. Avoid trans fats like the plague. A child cannot be addicted to foods they’ve never had.
Resources: Books – Michaela Lynn and Michael Chrisemer, N.C., Baby Greens; Michael Klaper, M.D., Pregnancy, Children and Vegan Diet.
4. Skin to skin contact, beginning at birth and including massages, being carried close to parents (“kangaroo care”) and continuing with lots of hugs and cuddles, provides physical and emotional security.
Massage stimulates the survival mechanisms of the undeveloped circulatory system, the digestive system and the elimination process.
In studies begun in orphanages in Romania and extending to other more developed countries, children whose physical needs for food, sleep, and a clean diaper were adequately met but received no other loving, human touch, died at an alarming rate. This led researchers to conclude that human touch is as vital as food. If a kitten is not thoroughly licked by its mother, it will die.
Resources: Books – Ashley Montagu, Touching: The Human Significance of Skin; Vimala McClure, Infant Massage Book; Jean Liedloff, The Continuum Concept.
5. A daily dose of Sunshine, Fresh air and Exercise. Doing something as simple as talking a daily walk will provide children and parents with all three of these health-promoting activities at once.
Ten minutes of pure sunlight (no sunscreen) in the summer months and up to 30 minutes in winter months (depending how far north you live) will give children all the vitamin D and K they need for optimal health.
Encouraging deep breathing in areas with lots of trees will provide little brains with the cleanest and purest source of oxygen, the stuff that all humans need to live.
6. Improve indoor air quality. The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that indoor air quality is 10 times worse than outdoor air pollution, even on smoggy days. The biggest culprits are synthetic, petrochemical-based cleaning products. Buy unscented, biodegradable detergents and cleansers. Keep cigarette smoke out of the house and away from your children. Avoid spraying insecticides indoors.
Resources: Books – Debra Lynn Dadd, Nontoxic, Natural and Earthwise.
7. Educate Yourself. Start by trusting yourself. You are the person who spends the most time with your child and knows him or her best. Most family doctors’ today encourage parents to be proactive with their children’s health, to be less dependent on doctors for reassurance and to have confidence in their own ability to care for their child.
Learn to treat minor ailments at home with herbs and homeopathy. Learn the signs indicating that an illness requires medical treatment. Doctors are very busy and appreciate when parents don’t make unnecessary visits. These extra trips increase the likelihood of unnecessarily over-medicating. Overuse of antibiotics is a serious concern with the list of superbugs (illnesses that are antibiotic resistant) growing every year. You want antibiotics to work when they are needed. If your child does require antibiotics make sure you follow it up with probiotics to restore your child’s immune system and avoid further illness, such as yeast infections, that can result from the use antibiotics.
Resources: Books – Robert S. Mendelson M.D., How to Raise a Healthy Child … in Spite of Your Doctor; Linda B. White, M.D. & Sunny Mavor, A.H.G, Kids, Herbs and Health.
Your parenting skills will improve when you empower yourself with knowledge – and your children will thank you for the gift of a lifetime of good health.