With the New Year upon us, I find staff around the hospital asking me about New Year’s resolutions and whether I have any or recommend any for children. For me, I resolve to continue to strive to make sure our University of Vermont Children’s Hospital meets the needs of those who need our services, while ensuring the highest quality cost-effective care possible. I have had the same resolution since arriving in Vermont more than 19 years ago, and have yet to waver in keeping it going strong.
As to resolutions for children, let me ring in the New Year with a few suggestions for different age groups. For example, infants need to resolve to sleep on their backs to prevent their being at risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and to keep unsafe items out of their mouths. Parents can certainly help babies with this resolution. On the other hand, I hope that infants should also resolve to put themselves back to sleep without needing parental assistance should they wake in the middle of the night.
Toddlers and preschoolers should resolve to brush their teeth twice each day, wash their hands after using the bathroom or before eating, and help clean up any messes they might have created while playing.
School age children might resolve to try new foods and to limit the amount of soda and sugary fruit drinks they drink. They should also find a physical activity they like and resolve to do it at least three times a week.
Of course, both children and infants need to resolve to always be restrained properly in a car safety seat whether it be an rear facing infant seat before the age of one, or a booster seat up to age eight, when traveling and they should also wear a helmet when cycling, skiing or roller blading.
All children should insist on being read to, or reading to themselves each and every day and should include at least one fruit and/or vegetable (hopefully more than that) in their diet on a daily basis as well.
Teens and older children should remember never to give out personal information on the internet. They should also limit their TV and video game activity to 1-2 hours max per day. Teens should also resolve to engage in healthy activities like sports, exercise, music or art when stressed, rather than consider the use of drugs or alcohol.
While old acquaintances may be forgotten, I hope you will not forget to recommend these resolutions to your children, and in turn, celebrate and praise your children for keeping them – so that hopefully 2011 will be a terrific year for them, and in turn for your entire family. Here’s to a great and happy 2015 for everyone!
Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children’s Hospital at the University of Vermont Medical Center and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and on WPTZ Channel 5. Visit the First with Kids video archives at http://www.uvmhealth.org/firstwithkids