Fitness and Your 2- to 3-Year-Old

From KidsHealth

Kids this age are walking and running, kicking, and throwing. They're naturally active, so be sure to provide lots of chances for your child to practice and build on these skills.

How much is enough? Physical activity guidelines for toddlers recommend that each day they:

    •    Try to get at least 30 minutes of structured (adult-led) physical activity

    •    Try to get at least 60 minutes of unstructured (active free play) physical activity

What Kids Can Do

It's important to understand what kids can do and what skills are appropriate for this age. By age 2, toddlers should be able to walk and run well. They might be able to kick a ball and jump in place with both feet. By age 3, toddlers usually can balance briefly on one foot, kick a ball forward, throw a ball overhand, catch a ball, and pedal a tricycle.

Keep these skills in mind when encouraging your child to be active. Play games together and provide age-appropriate active toys, such as balls, push and pull toys, and riding vehicles. Through practice, toddlers will continue to improve and refine their motor skills.

Mommy-and-me programs can introduce toddlers to tumbling, dance, and general movement. But you don't have to enroll kids in a formal program to foster these skills. The most important thing is to provide lots of opportunities to be active in a safe environment.

Family Fitness Tips

Walking, playing, exploring your backyard, or using playground equipment at a local park can be fun for the entire family.

Also, these games provide fun and fitness for parents and toddlers:

    •    Walk like a penguin, hop like a frog, or imitate other animals' movements.

    •    Sit facing each other and hold hands. Rock back and forth and sing the song "Row, row, row your boat."

    •    Bend at the waist and touch the ground. Walk your hands forward and inch along like a caterpillar.

    •    Sit on the ground and let your child step over your legs, or make a bridge with your body and let your child crawl under.

    •    Play follow the leader, "Ring around the rosy," and other similar games.

    •    Listen to music and dance together.

The possibilities are endless — come up with your own active ideas or follow your child's lead. Also, limit the amount of time your child spends watching TV (including DVDs and videos) or playing on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Kids who are active at young age tend to stay active throughout their lives. And staying fit can improve self-esteem, prevent obesity, and decrease the risk of serious illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease later in life.

Fitness and Your 3- to 5-Year-Old

From KidsHealth

By the time kids are 3 to 5 years old, their physical skills, like running, jumping, kicking, and throwing, have come a long way. Now they'll continue to refine these skills and build on them to learn more complex ones.

Take advantage of your child's natural tendency to be active. Regular physical activity promotes healthy growth and development and learning new skills builds confidence.

Fitness for Preschoolers

Physical activity guidelines recommend that preschoolers:

    •    are physically active throughout the day

    •    move and engage in both active play and structured (adult-led) physical activity

    •    do activities such as jumping, hopping, and tumbling to strengthen bones

    •    Preschoolers should participate in a variety of fun and challenging physical activities that help build skills and coordination, but aren't beyond their abilities. Preschoolers should be active about 3 hours a day, including light, moderate, and vigorous activities.

Kids this age are learning to hop, skip, and jump forward, and are eager to show off how they can balance on one foot, catch a ball, or do a somersault. Preschoolers also might enjoy swimming, playing on a playground, dancing, and riding a tricycle out a bikewith training wheels.

Many parents look to organized sports to get preschoolers active. But the average preschooler has not mastered the basics, such as throwing, catching, and taking turns. Even simple rules may be hard for them to understand, as any parent who has watched their child run the wrong way during a game knows.

And starting too young can be frustrating for kids and may discourage future participation in sports. So if you decide to sign your preschooler up for soccer or another team sport, be sure to choose a peewee league that focuses on fun and learning the fundamentals.

Family Fitness Tips

Playing together, running in the backyard, or using playground equipment at a local park can be fun for the entire family.

Other activities to try together, or for a group of preschoolers to enjoy, include:

    •    playing games such as "Duck, Duck, Goose" or "Follow the Leader," then mixing it up with jumping, hopping, and walking backward

    •    kicking a ball back and forth or into a goal

    •    hitting a ball off a T-ball stand

    •    playing freeze dance or freeze tag

Kids can be active even when they're stuck indoors. Designate a safe play area and try some active inside games:

    •    Treasure hunt: Hide "treasures" throughout the house and provide clues to their locations.

    •    Obstacle course: Set up an obstacle course with chairs, boxes, and toys for the kids to go over, under, through, and around.

    •    Soft-ball games: Use soft foam balls to play indoor basketball, bowling, soccer, or catch. You can even use balloons to play volleyball or catch.

Kids who enjoy sports and exercise tend to stay active throughout their lives. And being active can improve learning and attention, prevent obesity, and decrease the risk of serious illnesses such as hypertension.

10 Tips for Picky Eaters

From HealthStart and the NIH

Does your child refuse to eat anything other than pizza and chicken nuggets? Do you struggle to get them to try new foods? You are not alone!

As many as one-third of parents struggle with picky eaters.By the time a child is five years old, most children have established their food preferences. Early food preferences can link childhood and adult health. When children learn smart food habits at a young age, they bring those into adulthood. And we all know it’s much easier to learn a good habit than break a bad one!

Eating a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables, is essential to get all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. However, parents may find it challenging to convince their children to try new, unfamiliar foods once their kids have set their preferences.So you want to introduce your kids to lots of different foods starting in infancy before they establish their likes and dislikes.As they get older, it helps your kids make good food decisions when they know how foods take care of their bodies.

Below are 10 tips to help deal with picky eaters.

1. Explain that food is a gift

Did you know food is a gift? That’s right; food is a gift. Someone took the time to grow it, get it to the store, and prepare it for them to eat. You can also remind your child that when we receive a gift, we are thankful. Ask your child, “What do you say when you receive a gift? Thank you.” Then you can further explain, “So when someone offers you a new food, you try it, so you don’t hurt the giver’s feelings.” You will also want your child to know that they don’t have to like it, they just have to try it. By trying it, they may discover it tastes pretty good.

2. Practice flexible thinking

HealthStart teaches little ones that it’s important always to try something at least once because that’s how our brains grow and get stronger. HealthStart Sharon talks all aboutflexible thinkingand how it makes dealing with change or new things a lot easier.Flexible thinkinghelps us think about something differently, like foods we think we may not like. By being flexible, kids stay open to foods that might otherwise seem scary or unappealing.

3.Try a little bit at a time

Your child may be hesitant to try something new, especially if they see a lot of it on their plate. A big portion of something may discourage them from trying it. That’s why it’s helpful to introduce them to a new food a little bit at a time. Serving small portions will help avoid overwhelming your child. If they like it, they can ask for more!

4. Try and try again

Younger children tend to test out new foods by smelling or touching, and they might even take a bite and spit it right back out. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up. Instead, encourage your child with repeated exposure. For example, one night, you could serve a side of green beans, and the next, you include them in a casserole. It’s also helpful to talk about the particular food’s color, shape, smell, and texture to help your child consider more than the food’s taste.

5. Make it fun

Most likely, your child won’t find plain broccoli as visually appealing as a fun dessert. However, making food in a new way, such as creating beautiful snack art, will help your child be more willing to eat foods like fruits and vegetables. 

6. Pair a familiar food with a new one

Another great way to interest your little one in eating new foods is to incorporate foods they already know and love. A great example is to bring in one of their favorite dips or sauces to eat along with broccoli, carrots, or other veggies. You can even whip up a dip that has veggies mixed right into it.

7. Get your kid involved

Kids are much more likely to be willing to try foods if they are involved. Next time you’re at the grocery store, have your child help choose the fruits, vegetables, and proteins that look tasty or interesting to them. You can also take them to local Farmer’s Markets to see foods they might not see at the grocery store or discover fruits and veggies in season. While at home, encourage your child to help wash the fruit and vegetables and prepare snacks or meals.

8. Prepare meals/snacks together

Continue involving your child in the meal process by asking them to help prepare what they will eat. While young children may not be able to help with every task, you can still get them involved. Even the youngest can help pour ingredients in a bowl or mix ingredients together. When they help, they connect to their food and are inspired to eat it since they made it with their own two hands!

9. Be creative

There are tons of ways to incorporate a mixture of foods into your child’s meals. You can get creative by sneaking veggies into dishes like a smoothie or spaghetti sauce. When you add veggies to meals in this way, your child obtains the variety of nutrients they need while being exposed to foods in a new way. You can even be creative with desserts, such as avocado brownies. 

10. Set a good example

Your child picks up their eating habits from you, so showing them that you are willing to try new foods and make healthy choices is extremely important. When they see you eat healthy foods, you encourage them to do so, and you may even find a new food that you both like!

No matter what tips and tricks you try, just remember that your child’s eating habits won’t change overnight. And that’s ok! It’s the small steps you take each day that will promote a lifetime of healthy living. Let us know which tips you plan to try in the comments below.

Covid Vaccines

By now we’re sure you’ve heard that Covid vaccines have been approved for ages 6 months and above. We’re not yet sure when we’ll be getting a shipment, so call us weekly to check, but it’s easy enough to find a nearby Covid vaccine center. To help you find a place for your child’s vaccine, check out the vaccine search page at vaccines.gov.

Covid Quarantine Update

From the CDC

The rules about what to do if you have Covid or are exposed change so often that it’s hard to keep up. To get the latest info from the CDC, check out their …

“Quarantine and Isolation webpage.”

Red, White, and…Berries! 

From the Tufts Nutrition Newsletter

July is prime berry season. While many of these fruits are available fresh or frozen all year long, availability is highest and prices are lowest this time of year. Berries are bursting with flavor—as well as vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds that can benefit health. 

Health Benefits. Berries are good sources of a variety of nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium, as well as natural fiber and other bioactive plant compounds like anthocyanins. Berries have been studied in connection with a number of health benefits, including reducing risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and supporting brain health. For example, a systematic review of 23 randomized controlled trials found that berry intake is linked with beneficial effects on markers of CVD risk, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, artery function, and blood sugar. While the evidence for the health effects of berries is not as strong as it is often portrayed, there is no doubt that berries, like other fruits, are a healthful addition to anyone’s dietary intake. 

Types of Berries. When we think of berries, popular varieties likely come to mind, such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Beyond those commonly bought at the supermarket, there are many berries unique to certain locations and climates and not as widely known, like elderberries or goji berries. There are more than 25 different types of berries around the world, and more than 400 different species of varying colors, sizes, flavors, and nutrient profiles. By definition, a berry is a fruit with seeds and flesh produced from a single ovary of a single flower. (It may be interesting to note that, botanically, grapes, tomatoes, kiwis, and bananas are berries, while strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are not!) Though many berries, from blueberries and raspberries to cranberries and acai berries, have been called out as superfoods, the truth is all berries—and all fruits—are good choices. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a variety of fresh berries. For a change, try less common varieties, like acai, boysenberry, and gogi berries, or explore varieties unique to where you live. 

Keeping them Fresh. Berries can spoil relatively quickly, wasting money, nutrients, and environmental resources. Storing them correctly can lengthen their life. Refrigerate unwashed berries in their packages or in a single layer in a spacious container with a loose-fitting, breathable cover. If they begin to over-ripen, freeze them in a single layer and then transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container. They are then ready for smoothies, oatmeal topping, baking, or sauces whenever you want them. Buying your berries frozen is a good option all year long. 

Ways to Enjoy. Fresh berries are at their seasonal best right now, so let them shine in all their colorful, delicious, and nutritious glory. 

    • Make fruit salads and add berries to green salads 

    • Top hot and cold cereal • 

    • Add them to desserts, like frozen yogurt and custard 

    • Serve them in a bowl as a side dish, snack, or dessert 

    • Puree them and freeze them into popsicles 

    • Make a sauce for chicken, fish, or any dish in need of a punch of flavor by pureeing fresh or frozen berries in the blender with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and a little sweetener (depending on their tartness) and cooking them on the stovetop or in amicrowave. 

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The Kidfixer Newsletter            Summer, 2022