Every parent wants to raise healthy kids. The problem is that establishing good habits can be difficult, especially if we aren’t used to them ourselves. Here are 7 basic healthy habits that you can instill in your kids early so that the behaviors become automatic as your child grows. Making them part of your daily routine will help to ensure that they become ingrained as a part of life so that it’s not difficult to transition later.

Healthy Eating

The cornerstone for maintaining a healthy weight and good cholesterol starts in childhood. Make sure that you are selecting and serving nutritious foods at mealtimes and cut out the excess sugar. Even more important is instilling healthy snacking behaviors. Don’t keep junk food in the house, and don’t allow your kids to snack while watching TV or playing video games. Keep a selection of healthy snacks on hand for your kids to grab so that they aren’t tempted by sugary alternatives.

Sunblock & Moisturizers

We want our kids to play outside, but we also don’t want them to get cancer. Teaching the importance of taking care of their skin is one of the best things that you can do for your kid’s long-term health. It’s not just the sun damage you want to watch out for. Your skin is your largest organ, and your first line of defense against infection. Treating it well while you’re young will ensure that your skin is still your best defense as you age.

Water

The importance of hydration can’t be overstated and getting into the water habit early can prevent health consequences. Headache? Muscle cramps? Have a glass of water. Water is second only to oxygen when it comes to keeping your systems and cells functioning correctly. Buy your child a reusable water bottle and keep it filled and close-by at all times.

Exercise

Staying fit and active is a habit that you should get your kids into while they are young. Playing team sports is a great way to turn exercise into a routine and has added benefits of teaching good social habits and how to handle disappointments, as well as victories. If your child doesn’t show interest in a sport, try making a habit out of taking a walk after dinner each day, weather permitting.

Hand Washing

Your child should get into the habit of hand-washing before and after meals, after school each day, and after coming in from outdoor play. Washing your hands removes dirt and germs that your kids come in contact with every day. Not only is it a good habit for health, it will help keep your walls and furniture from sporting grubby fingerprints.

Tooth Brushing

Dental hygiene is one of the most important habits that you can instill in your child. Besides regular dental exams and x-rays, brushing and flossing are necessary for maintaining oral health. The consequences of poor oral hygiene are far-reaching and can affect your heart, respiratory system, nutrition, and many other aspects of your health. Aside from avoiding sugar, getting your kids to take care of their teeth is critical to maintaining health for life.

Sleep

One of the most important aspects of health that people have trouble with is sleep hygiene. Getting enough rest is an important life-long habit that begins in childhood. Unfortunately, with the levels of screen-time going up for many young children, sleep patterns are being disrupted and kids are not getting adequate sleep on a regular basis. Make sure your child is getting the appropriate number of hours in bed each night, and that screens are turned off at least an hour before bedtime each day. Lack of sleep contributes to behavioral problems and poor performance at school, as well as long-term health problems like obesity and increased stress response.

There are plenty of other good healthy habits that you can try to instill in your kids, but if you start with these 7, they’ll be off to a great start. Make them routine now so that they don’t struggle with them later in life.

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