The ABCs of raising a healthy, safe kid

Story Image

A KID PRO QUO -- Bring out the fruit kebabs. It's time for a party. photo courtesy of FamilyFun Parenting2011-11 PARENTING 2011

Raising a child is not easy. But doing small things everyday will help bring them up healthy, happy and injury-free.

A is for Alcohol-Free Pregnancy

An expecting mother should not drink any alcohol at any time during her pregnancy. It can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on FAS.

B is for Breastfeeding

Doctors agree that breastfeeding is best for mom and baby. Breast milk can protect the baby against diseases and is a complete source of nutrients. Breastfeeding can also help decrease post-partum bleeding, and doctors suggest it can help prevent premenopausal breast and ovarian cancer.

B is for Bicycle Helmets

An estimated 150 deaths and 100,000 nonfatal head injuries each year could have been prevented by wearing a bicycle helmet. Only one-quarter of children 5 to 14 years old and almost no teenagers wear a bicycle helmet when riding, the CDC reported. Be sure your kid is protecting their noggin; wearing a bicycle helmet can reduce the risk of a serious head injury by 85 percent and a brain injury by 88 percent.

C is for Concussions in Youth Sports

Be aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion, which is a brain injury caused by a blow to the head, no matter how small. Signs and symptoms may not show up right away, so if your child reports or if you see any of the symptoms (such as headaches and nausea), get to a doctor right away. For more information, check out the CDC website.

C is for Cover

Cover any unused electrical socket in the house. Toddlers love to explore, and you don't want your cutie-pie's curiosity to end with an electric shock.

D is for Dental Health

By the time they are two years old, 17 percent of children may already have tooth decay. At 8 years old, that number rises to 52 percent. More than two-thirds of children have dental decay by the time they are 17. High amounts of fluoride, which can be obtained through using fluoride toothpaste, water or supplements such as mouthwash, leads to low risk of dental decay.

E is for Exercise

Exercise can't be bad for any one at any age. Physical activity helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, control weight, prevent or control high blood pressure, and lower blood pressure in some adolescents with. Experts recommend all children's and adolescents get at least one hour of moderate exercise, preferably all days of the week. Even running around on the playground counts!

F is for Folic Acid

All women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should take a vitamin with folic acid. Low levels of folic acid can lead to spinal bifida (spine defects) and anencephaly (brain defects) in infants. Take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily both before pregnancy and during the first few months of pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects.

G is for Growing

Since 1977, pediatric doctors have used a growth chart as to see if the growth of your child is normal. It's not just measuring height and weight - until they are five years old, pay attention to how your child plays, learns, speaks and acts.

H is for Hand washing

Wash your Hands! And make sure your child follows suit. Washing hands can prevent colds or other diseases, because it cleans all the germs from everything you and your child touches. Be sure to wash with soap and water after every cough or every sneeze, and every time after using the bathroom, for at least 20 seconds. Sing or hum Happy Birthday to keep track.

I is for Influenza

A.K.A the flu, which approximately 20,000 people are hospitalized for each year, according to the CDC. The CDC says vaccination is the best way to not get sick, but other things, like avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home if you're sick, cover your mouth and nose, wash your hands and try to stop rubbing your eyes when you are sick can also help you stay healthy. It's recommended that children, older adults, pregnant women and people with chronic conditions get the flu shot each year.

J is for Job Safety

Young workers are more prone to injuries on the job. Approximately 30 youth under 18 died from work-related injuries in 2006, and another 52,600 15 - to 17 year-olds had work-related injuries and illnesses that sent them to the emergency rooms. Be sure your child knows the risks of their job and how to stay safe.

K is for Know Family History and Environment

Are there hereditary diseases in your family like high blood pressure or high cholesterol? Be aware if your child is at risk for hereditary). Know if there are diseases your child is prone to genetically by keeping track of you and your spouse's family history, medical history and environment.

L is for Learn Healthy Behavior

The CDC lists health goals for every stage of your child's life. For infants and toddlers, aim to "start strong" by promoting a healthy environment and preventing infectious diseases and injuries. Kids aged 4 - 11 years-old should learn healthy behaviors to "grow safe and strong," and children aged 12 and up should be able to achieve healthy independence

M is for Motor Vehicle Safety

There are 9,000 children younger than 5 years old killed a year in car crashes and 160,000 injuries would be prevented. Nearly half of those children younger than five that were killed in car crashes were not strapped in. Be sure to buck up not just for yourself, but child safety seats can lower the death risk by at least 55 percent

N is for Nutritious Food

You are what you eat, and so are your kids. Eating foods chuck-full of vitamins, minerals and fiber are essential to general health. Eat your fruits and veggies, and make sure your children do too. Make sure to check portions, too. Just because it's healthy, doesn't mean you can over-eat.

O is for Obesity Epidemic

Everyone is talking about the obesity epidemic. In the past 20 years, the number of obese children between 6 and 11 years old has nearly tripled since 1980, 6.5 percent to 17 percent in 2006. Obesity, can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and leaves obese children at risk type 2 diabetes and heart disease as an adult. Exercises, stock your house with healthy snacks, talk to your child's school about food decisions, and help your child make healthy food choices and teach them portion control.

P is for Preparedness and Plan Ahead for Emergencies

No matter where you are in the U.S., disaster can strike. Have a plan, and be aware of weather conditions. Check out the American Red Cross Web site for disaster emergency plans.

P is for Prenatal Care

Through prenatal care, health problems can be prevented, identified and treated early, or closely monitored. Persons with certain conditions or diseases can receive specialized care, which may lower the risk in the fetus or newborn of developing similar or other problems.

Q is for Quit Smoking

Half of all adult smokers have quit. There are only negative effects to smoking, and quitting will only improve your health - and the health of your child or those you live with.

R is for Recreation and Safety

Even though fireworks are the funniest and exciting part of the 4th of July, it's best to leave the dynamite to the pros.

Swimming pools are essential to every child's summer time, but make sure someone is supervising. Also, don't let your child go swimming while they are sick, don't swallow pool water and make sure to wash hands and rinse off after a poolside day.

At the playground, always make sure someone is watching, and carry around those extra band-aids in case of a scratch.

S is for Smoke Alarms

Fire alarms need to be installed on every floor of your home, including the basement, and put them near rooms where people sleep. Test your alarms monthly.

S is for SIDS

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a sudden death of an infant less than a year old that can't be explained after an autopsy, review of medical history and investigation of the death scene. SIDS is the third leading cause infant deaths in the United States. There are some things you can do to reduce the risk of SIDS: always place your baby on their back, and on a firm mattress

T is for Talk

Talk to your children about staying safe. These, often difficult but necessary, discussions include tobacco, alcohol, drugs, safe sex and sexual abuse.

U is for Using Antibiotics

If your child has the flu or a cold, antibiotics may not work because those infections are viral. Be sure to talk to your doctor before getting your child antibiotics.

V is for Vaccinations

Think getting your child vaccinated is just a hoax to keep your child healthy? Think again. Not only have vaccines eliminated scores of infectious diseases, like polio, that used to kill children. But those diseases that vaccinated children have can be passed onto children who are not vaccinated. Not only can your child get sick, but that also means missed school days and parents losing times from work, more doctor visits and, in the worst cases, death. Be sure to keep your child's vaccinations up-to-date.

W is for Water Safety

Drowning is the second most frequent cause of death for children between 1 and 14 years old. To prevent drowning, make sure that is always someone watching, swim with a buddy, and make sure the person watching the water isn't distracted. Learn to swim, and don't use noodles, water wings or any other floating toy as a substitution for a life jacket.

X is for eXposure, Sunscreen and Bugs

Summer time always means fun in the sun, but it also can mean sunburns and bug bites. Always wear sunscreen, even if it's a foggy day (the CDC recommends at least SPF 15).

As for bug spray, any repellent must state any age restriction. Bug spray with DIET should not be used on infants younger than 2 months old, according to The American Academy of Pediatrics.

Y is for Young Drivers

Sixteen-to-nineteen year olds are at the highest risk for motor vehicle accidents; they are four times more likely that older drivers to crash, especially in the first year they get their licenses. Teenagers don't recognize some dangerous situations and are more likely to speed and tailgate. Graduated drivers licensing produces safer drivers, and are associated with a 38 percent decrease in fatal car crashes. For more information about GDL systems, see the Teens Behind the Wheel: Graduated Drivers Licensing fact sheet on the CDC Web site.

Z is for ZZZZs

Make sure you and your family gets plenty of sleep (ZZZZs). If you are well rested, then you are in better shape to deal with the joys and challenges of raising safe and healthy kids and teens! Newborns (0-2 months old) should get 10 - 18 hours a sleep; babies up to three years old should get between 12 and 15 hours of sleep per night. Five-to-ten year olds should get 12 to thirteen hours, and adolescents should get between eight and nine hours. And for you busy moms and dads, make sure to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night to keep up with your kids!