Colder temperatures bring cold & flu season, so it’s timely to talk about healthy routines. Thanks to Dr. Linda Fu, a general pediatrician at Children’s National Health System, who sent me health tips for parents:
1. Make sure your child is up to date on their vaccinations. In recent years, the recommended vaccination schedule has changed due to more disease outbreaks in the U.S. Visit the CDC’s website for a list of required vaccinations by age group. Editor’s Note: Here’s a great “catch-up schedule” if you think you may be missing some.
2. Practice routines including easing your child into a regular sleep schedule. According to new guidelines released by the National Sleep Foundation, school-aged children need between nine and 11 hours of sleep per night. Not having enough sleep can impede the learning process and make it difficult for your child to fully focus on what’s being taught.
3. Make sure your child’s nutrition needs are met. This includes eating breakfast every day and making sure your child has a well-balanced lunch. Eating right will help your child focus and learn better during the school day. It’s also important to pay attention to how your child reacts to different foods. If you notice something that may be a food allergy, take your child to a primary care provider to be tested. Limiting your child’s food options before officially being tested is not recommended, as you may unintentionally be cutting out an important food group. If your child does have an allergy, make sure their teacher and/or school nurse knows and that you are familiar with the school’s policy. Some food allergies are very serious, and it’s crucial to make sure your child’s teacher knows their restrictions so they can ensure you child stays safe at school.
4. Take your child to get an annual check-up with your primary care physician. New classrooms mean new germs.
Photo provided by Children’s National Health System.
Linda Fu, MD, MS, is a general pediatrician at Children’s National Health System and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Fu also serves as the Director of Outcomes and Evaluation for Children’s School Services and as the Immunization Initiatives Representative for the DC Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Dr. Fu’s advocacy and research interests lie in immunization delivery—understanding and removing barriers to children receiving recommended vaccinations to keep them and the community at-large safe from vaccine-preventable diseases. She has current funding from the NIH to examine social influences on parental vaccination decision-making. Dr. Fu has overseen several projects to update pediatric providers in the District of Columbia and in 21 states on the implementation of immunization delivery best practices.