Having a small child means no running away from a fever and a cold, the two most common sicknesses that will “accompany” them as they grow up1.
Children are always exposed to a variety of germs and bacteria everywhere, whether at school, home or in kindergarten.
And with the world’s condition today, parents are getting more worried about their child’s health2. Just recently in March, Malaysia is seeing a surge in the number of children (0 to 12 years) being admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) due to viral respiratory illness3.
Naturally our child’s body has a defence system that is responsible for protecting from harmful germs, viruses and bacteria. They were born with natural protection from their mothers in the earliest months. As they begin to grow, that protection also begins to wane and vaccines are given to children to help keep them from falling ill4.
So as a parent, how do we ensure our child’s health is in shape, especially during the period when they are growing up?
Tips for keeping your child healthy throughout the year
1. Maintain good hygiene
Even good hygiene, bacteria and germs can be transmitted and contact with other people or objects and children especially are also more likely to catch viruses from the constant touching of their mouth and nose.
As a parent, you should pay special attention to your child’s hygiene before and after each meal, after using the bathroom, after arriving home from school, and when they cough or sneeze.
Teach them young, they say. Practising the habit of handwashing reduces the chance of them spreading infections after touching something. Washing hands more regularly has now become a second nature; maybe even getting children to sing the ‘happy birthday’ song twice to make sure they hit the 20-second recommended mark5.
2. Establishing good sleep routine
Just like how adults are moody when they don’t get enough sleep, the same thing happens with children that aren’t sleeping properly. Poor sleep during childhood can persist for extended periods, resulting in long-term problems in academic performance, poor impulse control, and impaired social functioning6.
Having a good night’s sleep is important to keep your child’s body full of energy and will also reduce stress levels. They also benefit from the restorative effects of sleep including improved brain function, development, working memory, and emotion regulation4 thus making them less susceptible to sickness.
Sleep requirements for each night vary by age:7
- Babies between 0 and 3 months need 14 to 17 hours of sleep. Infants between 4 and 12 months need 12 to 16 hours of sleep per 24 hours (including naps).
- Toddlers between the ages of 1 and 2 need between 11 and 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps).
- Kids between the ages of 3 and 5 should get from 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps).
- Children ages 6 to 12 should get between 9 and 12 hours per 24 hours.
3. Get active
Physical activity and exercise are essential for a child’s overall fitness. By regularly doing physical activity, it can help prevent and manage noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and several cancers. It also helps prevent hypertension, maintain healthy body weight and can improve mental health, quality of life and well-being8.
Encourage your child to play outside and explore the outdoors or take them to the playground, where they can run, jump, climb, slide, and move in general, giving your child a healthy outlet for exercise.
Besides taking them to the playground, parents can also consider other physical activities or even sign them up for physical classes or sports teams. Just remember to always wash their hands after playing outside.
4. Eat a well-balanced diet
Providing your kids with nutrient rich foods is a must when it comes to healthy development. It’s so important for parents to feed a variety of foods from each of the food groups, every day.
Even if it’s only in small amounts, offering your child a broad array of foods is the ideal way to expand their palate and ensure a diverse range of nutrients they need for growth and energy.
Phytonutrients in food, for example, have great benefits to the body for they are antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, antiaggegrative, and anti-inflammatory – acting as a natural defence weapon in maintaining a healthy body. Phytonutrient-rich sources include both colored (fruits, nuts, berries, vegetables, tea, cacao, legumes, spices) and uncolored foods (onions, garlic, ginger, shallots)9.
5. Food supplement
Parents can make a meal plan to ensure that your child’s meals always have some amount of essential-nutrient food. However, sometimes food supplements may help to ensure that children are getting enough. This is particularly important if your preschooler or children is a poor eater or are not getting a wide variety of vitamins and minerals in their diet. It also helps boost energy levels and support their body’s natural defence system.
Scott’s Pastilles with Vitamin C are high in Vitamin C which is highly beneficial in helping the body absorb iron from their food. Did you know that the daily recommended Vitamin C intake for children aged 1-6 years old is 30mg and 35mg for children aged 7-9 years old?10 You can help fulfil your child’s daily Vitamin C intake with Scott’s Pastilles with Vitamin C which contains 21mg of Vitamin C per serving.
Scott’s, the No. 1 Brand in Peninsular Malaysia for Health Supplement and Vitamin C in Children Category based on IQVIA*, has been around for nearly 60 years in the country. It continues to make nutrients in interesting forms and formats that appeal to children alike. Recommended from the age 3 onwards, the Scott’s Pastille with Vitamin C come in 5 different flavours — blackcurrant, orange, peach, mango and mixed berries — that are also Halal-certified.
So parents, amidst all the play, exploring, and fun, remember to keep up with your child’s Vitamin C intake. Give them Scott’s Pastilles with Vitamin C daily.
*IQVIA Malaysia Consumer Health Malaysia Audit (CHMA), Health Supplements and Vitamin C Children Category, Total Peninsular Malaysia, MAT Nov 2021 (Values)Disclaimer: Consumption with adult supervision is advised and not to replace a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.
- Childhood illnesses. nidirect. (n.d.). Retrieved November 2, 2022, from https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/conditions/childhood-illnesses
- Simon, A. K., Hollander, G. A., & McMichael, A. (2015). Evolution of the immune system in humans from infancy to old age. Proceedings. Biological sciences, 282(1821), 20143085.
- Bernama. (2021, September 12). Reopening of schools: Parents can choose not to send children to school – Radzi. Astro Awani. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from https://www.astroawani.com/berita-malaysia/reopening-schools-parents-can-choose-not-send-children-school-radzi-319377
- Covid-19: Health Ministry says vaccination for children important for transition to endemic phase. (2022, March 12). Malay Mail. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2022/03/12/covid-19-health-ministry-says-vaccination-for-children-important-for-transi/2047028
- Norman, R., & Gordon, B. (2020, October 15). Handwashing can’t stop – millions of lives are at stake. World Health Organization. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/handwashing-can-t-stop-millions-of-lives-are-at-stake
- Wu, L. C., Hattangadi, N., Keown-Stoneman, C., Maguire, J. L., Birken, C. S., Stremler, R., Constantin, E., & Charach, A. (2022). Sleep Duration and Internalizing Symptoms in Children. Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry = Journal de l’Academie canadienne de psychiatrie de l’enfant et de l’adolescent, 31(3), 115–123.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 14). How much sleep do I need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html
- World Health Organization. (2022, October 5). Physical activity. World Health Organization. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity
- Khan, H., Barreca, D., Suntar, I., & Nabavi, S. M. (2020). Phytonutrients in food: From traditional to rational usage. Woodhead Publishing.
- Yu, Y. K. (2016, September 8). Importance and toxicity of vitamin C. PORTAL MyHEALTH. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from https://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/importance-toxicity-vitamin-c/