With the New Year upon us, parents have asked me to help them with New Year’s resolutions for their children. Let me offer a few suggestions to ring in the new year.
Infants and Toddlers
Infants should resolve to sleep on their backs, which helps to prevent sudden unexpected infant death. And they should keep unsafe items out of their mouths.
Toddlers and preschoolers should brush their teeth twice a day and wash their hands after using the bathroom and before eating. They should help clean up any messes they might have created while playing. They should also resolve to be nice to other children and to pets.
School age children might resolve to try new foods and to limit the amount of soda and sugary fruit drinks they drink. Instead, they can drink reduced-fat milk or water at least three times every day. They should also find a physical activity they enjoy and resolve to do it at least three times a week. (And they should remember to wear a helmet if that activity is bicycling, skiing or snowboarding.)
Both children and infants need to resolve to always be restrained properly in a car safety seat. This means a rear-facing infant seat before the age of 2 or a booster seat up to at least age 8.
All children should insist on being read to or reading to themselves each and every day. They should also resolve to always tell an adult about bullying that they see or hear about.
Teens and Older Children
Teens and older children should remember never to give out personal information on the internet. And they should resolve to limit their recreational screen time to 1-2 hours per day.
Teens should also resolve to engage in healthy activities rather than consider the use of drugs or alcohol. Healthy behaviors include sports, exercise, music or art. They should never use a cell phone or text while driving or even riding a bicycle. And teens should talk to their parents or other trusted adults if they or their friends are stressed or considering risky choices.
While old acquaintance may be forgot, hopefully your children will not forget these resolutions. Here’s to a terrific 2018 for them and for your entire family.
Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and MyNBC 5, or visit the “First with Kids” video archives at www.UVMHealth.org/MedCenterFirstWithKids.