There are many ways to keep your child fit and well, like making sure they get the right amount and types of food, making sure they sleep enough, and taking them for vaccinations and medical check-ups. When they’re feeling good, they’re likely to be confident and willing to try and learn new things. We’ve rounded up some of the best ways you can keep them healthy and happy.
Keeping your child healthy
It’s important to give your child a healthy diet. The Better Health Healthier Families website is packed with ideas for snacks, meals, and how to give your kids five a day:
- Food facts – Better Health Healthier Families website
It’s recommended you give your child vitamin supplements up to the age of five:
- Vitamins for children – nhs.uk website
You might be entitled to help with:
- plain liquid cow’s milk
- fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables
- fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
- infant formula milk based on cow’s milk
- Healthy Start vitamins – these support you during pregnancy and breastfeeding
- vitamin drops for babies and young children
You can check if you qualify and apply online by filling in this form:
- Get help to buy food and milk (Healthy Start) – nhs.uk website
If you aren’t eligible, breastfeeding mums can buy vitamins for 80p and children’s vitamin drops for £1.60 at children’s centres and family hubs.
You should make sure your pre-schooler is active for 180 minutes a day.
- Physical activity for children (under 5 years) – nhs.uk webssite
Regular weigh-ins indicate whether your child is healthy. As a rough guide, you should do this no more than once every three months over the age of one.
- Your baby’s weight and height – nhs.uk website
It’s recommended that your child has the MMR and pre-school booster vaccinations at age three.
- 4-in-1 pre-school booster overview – nhs.uk website
Keeping your child safe
It’s important you know how to keep your child safe while they sleep to reduce the risk of cot death/sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS):
- How to reduce the risk of SIDS – lullaby trust website
All children cry but you can learn how to soothe them:
- Soothing a crying baby – nhs.uk website
If you’re struggling to cope with a crying child, ICON can help:
- Advice for parents – ICON website
For advice on how to hold your child, this simple guide talks you through it:
- Handle with care – NSPCC website
Accidents happen, especially when children get more adventurous, but there’s plenty you can do to make your kids’ environment safe.
- Keeping Kids Safe – ROSPA website
Dogs and children can be great friends – follow these six rules to keep everyone safe:
- Keeping children safe around dogs – RSPCA website
Helping your child learn
You can really give your child a good start by reading to them, teaching them words, and exploring where you live together. For young children, learning is fun – like some of the ideas below:
- Children learn from every interaction so talk to them as much as possible – the more words they hear, the more they’ll know.
- Teach them about give and take, what’s fair, and how to share.
- Encourage your child to try new things, like going on a slide.
- But also teach them to stick with activities even if they’re tricky.
- Praise your child when they learn a new skill or find a new way to do something, like reaching to open a door.
- Help them to use the toilet independently, then let them have fun washing their hands.
- Read them stories that they enjoy, even if it’s the same one over and over.
- Encourage them to listen to jingles and songs and sing them together.
- Teach them about where they live, why we wear different clothes on different occasions, and go to community events together, like Chinese New Year celebrations.
- Talk about the things you write on a shopping list and let them make their own list.
- Count out the candles on their birthday cake.
- Encourage them to make things with their hands and be creative: make playdough and let them roll and pat it to their heart’s content; show them how to make a robot or rocket from empty cartons.
- Overall, make sure there’s plenty of time for play – whether it’s pretending to be a space explorer or a unicorn, or doing the conga from one side of the room to the other.
Getting ready for primary school
It won’t be long before your child goes to primary school but there’s lots of things you can do to help them prepare. Here’s some online resources:
The BBC has an online game that lets your child pick their character and a school jumper, explore the school and take part in activities:
- Play My First Day at School – bbc.co.uk website
They also have lots of early years resources covering maths, language, the arts and more:
- Explore the BBC collection – bbc.co.uk website
If you want to develop your child’s communication skills further, the BBC’s Tiny Happy People website has lots of tips and videos:
- Activities for 3-4 year olds – Tiny Happy People website
For even more ideas to get them talking,
- Learning to talk: 3 to 5 years – nhs.uk website
Finally, your child’s first day at school is a big moment – so we’ve made a video to make sure you’re both ready.
- Preparing your child for primary school – Oldham Council website