By Stephanie Simons,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire
It’s that time of year again! With autumn comes the start of the school year and, though exciting, this can also be an anxious time for many parents. While it’s natural to be nervous about your child’s wellbeing, there’s plenty you can do to help them stay fit and healthy, so they can get the most out of their education.
One of the areas parents have a big impact is nutrition. A healthy, varied diet can help your child’s energy levels, concentration and mood, starting with a nutritious breakfast. Protein-rich foods such as porridge or a smoothie can provide your child with energy throughout the morning, and stave off hunger pangs until lunchtime. Packed lunches are also a chance to get creative with food and introduce new things to your child’s diet. However, remember to check ingredients, especially on pre-packaged foods like crisps, sandwich fillings or even cereal bars. Many contain much more fat and sugar than you’d think, which can lead to hyperactivity or sluggishness – as well as more serious health problems down the road.
Vitamins are crucial for a child’s development. Vitamin C is particularly important in developing and maintaining children’s immune systems during school terms. With bugs and viruses spreading through the classroom, it’s a good idea to stock up on key sources of Vitamin C such as oranges, tomatoes and broccoli. Vitamin A is also important for the ongoing development of children’s eyes and sight, and this can be found in carrots, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals.
In addition to a healthy diet, experts recommend children take vitamin supplements to ensure they’re getting everything they need. Try products designed with children in mind such as Olly Kid’s Multi + Probiotics, Smarty Pants Prebiotic/probiotic combinations and organic vegetarian multivitamin supplements and Haliborange Omega-3 for kids. Your pharmacist can advise you on what might work best.
Sleep is just as important for your child’s health as diet and exercise. It’s recommended that children get at least eight to ten hours sleep a night, to help them wake up ready for school the next day. However, as we all know, this is easier said than done. You can help your child get the sleep they need by developing a consistent evening routine that allows your child to wind down before bed. Experts suggest turning off the television two hours before bed, as screen time can impact levels of the hormone melatonin, a crucial regulator of the sleep cycle. Night time drinks can also help, such as a warm glass of milk, which can bring on drowsiness through the melatonin in it.
Schoolwork can take its toll on your child’s eyes, especially if they’re not used to a lot of reading. Experts advise parents to get their child’s sight tested if they show any signs of difficulty, such as squinting, tilting their head, or holding devices or books too
And of course – don’t forget the dreaded head lice outbreaks, spread through head to head contact during playtime, sports and sleepovers. Be sure to tackle it as soon as possible, first with a shampoo such as Rid, Nix and Lyclear, followed by a wet comb. You need to do this several times after the outbreak – as unhatched eggs may survive the initial attack. Most importantly, take the time to build a strong relationship with your child’s school. That way, you can make them aware of everything they need to know, from medical conditions to food allergies, and they can keep you up to date too. In the meantime, if you have any serious concern about your child’s health, your pharmacist and GP are always here to help.
Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.