My Blog - Children's Medical Center

Encouraging participation in regular physical activity is an essential factor in promoting an overall healthy lifestyle for your children. Routine physical activity increases lean body mass, muscle, and bone strength, and promotes physical, mental, and psychological health. It can also increase a child’s overall self-esteem, their ability to respond to stress, and maximize their capacity for learning. This is a habit that should be established early on. In fact, parents can begin establishing daily physical activities with their children before they are even a year old. It is important for parents to set the right standard for the amount of physical activity their child should be getting daily. Doing this forms a healthy lifestyle habit they will carry with them well into adulthood. So how much physical activity is needed? And what types of physical activities are recommended for children? Read on to see how physical activity recommendations change as your child ages.

Physical Activity Recommendations For Infancy (Birth – Under 1 year old)


Babies love to explore the environment around them. They also like to take part in activities that explore different types of movement. When your baby is very young, you will have to help them move around.  But as they continue to grow, they will roll over, hold their head up, sit-up, crawl, and walk. All of these things are considered physical activity for this age group. Infants should be placed in a setting that encourages and stimulates movement and active play for short periods of time. This should be done several times throughout the day. Infants should also have supervised “tummy time” incorporated into their daily play-time. Tummy time should last for as long as the infant shows enjoyment. Some children do not immediately enjoy tummy time. When this happens, you may have to start out with very brief periods and build-up to longer periods over time

Physical Activity Recommendations For Early Childhood (1 – 5 years old)


In the early childhood years, children should engage in a minimum of 60 minutes and up to several hours of unstructured physical activity each day. They should have at least 30 minutes (ages 1 – 3) or 60 minutes (ages 3 – 5) of structured physical activity each day. Unstructured physical activity is activity in which the child engages in freely. This activity should not be prompted by an adult. Structured physical activity is planned and intentionally directed by an adult. Children in this age group should not be sedentary for any period of time greater than 60 minutes at a time, unless they are sleeping. Toddlers (ages 1 – 3) should be given opportunities to develop movement skills. These movement skills will act as building blocks for motor skill development and bone development. Young children (ages 3 – 5) should be encouraged to develop competence in fundamental motor skills. These skills will act as the building blocks for future advanced motor skills and physical activity.

Physical Activity Recommendations For Middle Childhood, Adolescence, & Young Adults (6 – 21 years old)


Children, adolescents, and young adults between the ages of 6 and 21 should engage in a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Most of this time should be comprised of either moderate- or vigorous- intensity aerobic physical activity. Children should engage in vigorous physical activity at least 3 days per week. They should also engage in muscle- and bone- strengthening physical activity at least 3 days per week. During this time, it is important for parents to encourage physical activity that is age appropriate, enjoyable, and offer variety. For example, children under the age of 7 should engage in activities that focus on fundamental motor skills such as running, jumping, skipping, throwing, kicking, and catching. Children between the ages of 7 and 9 years old should engage in activities that focus on fundamental transitional motor skill development such as throwing for distance or accuracy. Children 10 years or older should engage in activities that focus on transitional complex motor skills being developed such as playing soccer, basketball, and baseball.

Schedule Your Child’s Annual Well-Child Visit Today  


Besides getting plenty of physical activity, routine annual wellness visits are important to maintaining your child’s overall health and well-being. Annual wellness visits also ensure they are not taking part in physical activity that may be a risk to them. To schedule your child’s annual well-child exam with one of our board-certified pediatricians, contact Children’s Medical Center today. We have four convenient office locations in Palm Harbor, Westchase, Trinity, and Lutz. We also have extended hours and are open 7 days a week! We look forward to meeting you and your child! 

After a long school year your child is probably excited to spend summer relaxing and free of school stress. But as parents, we want to make sure our children don’t fall behind and forget everything they learned throughout the year. So what can you do to help your child retain the skills they learned this year? Here is what parents need to know about summer slide and how reading can help minimize the risk of summer regression: 

What Is Summer Slide?


Summer slide is the term used to refer to the regression experienced by students during the summer. Most teachers expect students to return to school in the fall with some level of regression in reading and math skills. Teachers then have to make up for this regression during the new school year. It has long been estimated that students lose between 1 and 3 months-worth of school-year skills during the summer. The 2015 MAP Growth Norms Study found that between third and fourth grade, students lost about 20% of their reading and 27% of their math school-year gains. If those numbers sound concerning, you’ll be even more concerned about middle school. During the summer between seventh and eighth grade, students lost about 36% of their reading and 50% of their math school-year gains. Some research also suggests there is a connection between socioeconomic class, summer slide, and the achievement gap.

How Reading During The Summer Prevents Summer Slide


One of the best ways to prevent summer slide is to encourage your child to read regularly throughout the summer. During the summer, children should continue to read a minimum of 20 minutes every day. This is the same expectation they have during the school year. Some teachers and schools provide books to children at the end of the school year to help get them started. You should also help encourage your child to read throughout the summer. You can encourage kids by taking them to the library, reading together, and listening to audio books in the car. Your child may also be encouraged if they see you read regularly. You should also regularly discuss what your child likes and doesn’t like about the books they are reading. You can also ask them what they learned from the book. Doing this will help their review and comprehension skills. You could also have your child write a summary of the book or chapter they read to practice writing skills.

Annual Wellness Visits Are Important For A Successful School Year


Your child’s success in school directly impacts their overall growth and development. This is why their pediatrician discusses concerns about success in school during your child’s annual well-child visit. To schedule your child’s annual well-child exam with one of our board-certified pediatricians, contact Children’s Medical Center today. We have four convenient office locations in Palm Harbor, Westchase, Trinity, and Lutz. We also have extended hours and are open 7 days a week! We look forward to helping your child prepare for their next school year! 

Summertime is also often physical time for children. Your child may need a physical before they return to school, to participate in a new sport or a new season of a sport, or to attend a summer camp. Many parents know they can go to a walk-in clinic or a pop-up event for these physicals. But you may not know why it is important to have your child’s physical completed by their own pediatrician. Here are the reasons your child’s physicals should always be done by their own pediatrician:

Physical Exams Done By Pediatricians Are More Thorough And Accurate


Children grow and change a lot in a years’ time. It is important for them to receive regular annual physical check-ups to ensure they are growing and developing appropriately. Annual physicals also allow you to address any existing concerns with their health and well-being. Recognizing the importance of routine physicals to your child’s overall health and safety, state laws require physicals for certain activities. Physicals must be completed before children can participate in activities such as sports, summer camps, and before entering certain grades. Sport and camp physicals ensure your child is healthy and strong enough to take part in required activities for their sport or camp. School physicals ensure your child is prepared for a healthy and successful school year. Because these physicals affect your child’s overall health care, it is important for their own pediatrician to do them. Your child’s pediatrician will complete a more thorough and accurate medical history review and physical examination.

Pediatricians Already Know Your Child’s Medical History


The first part of a physical involves a review of your child’s medical history. Your child’s pediatrician already has detailed records about your child and knows your child’s health history. This allows them to complete a more thorough and accurate review of your child’s medical history. Walk-in clinics and pop-up physical events will review only the areas required by the physical forms. But they will not know enough about your child to thoroughly discuss and address important underlying health and safety topics. They also cannot address medical history topics that you may have forgotten.

Your Child Will Be More Comfortable With Their Own Pediatrician


During the physical examination, expect your child’s pediatrician to check their:

  •          Height and weight
  •          Blood pressure and pulse
  •          Vision and hearing
  •          Heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose, and throat
  •          Posture, joints, strength, and flexibility

The physical exam will also include personal questions based on your child’s age, sex, and growth and development. For example, your daughter’s pediatrician may ask questions relating to her menstrual cycle. Having the physical completed by your child’s pediatrician ensures your child will be comfortable enough to answer personal questions that arise during the exam honestly.

Schedule Your Child’s School, Sports, or Camp Physical Today


To schedule your child’s next school, sports, or camp physical contact Children’s Medical Center and make an appointment with your child’s board-certified pediatrician today. We have four convenient office locations in Palm Harbor, Westchase, Trinity, and Lutz. We also have extended hours and are open 7 days a week! We look forward to helping your child prepare for their next school year or sports season! 

As parents we already have the life experience to understand the importance of good dental hygiene and routine dental care. Most adults have experienced the agony of a toothache or a cavity, or the shock of a tooth chipping at some point in their life. But parents often find it quite a struggle to encourage these same healthy dental habits in their children. Proper dental hygiene is extremely important in a child’s overall growth and development, even for baby teeth, as decayed or infected teeth can interfere with a child’s nutrition, speech development, and can even impact the child’s permanent teeth in the future.

While getting your child into a routine habit of taking care of their teeth can be difficult, there are a few things you can do to help make it easier. Here are a few tips to help get your kids started:

When Should A Child Start Brushing?


The easiest way to encourage and develop healthy hygiene habits in children is to start as young as possible. For dental hygiene, this means beginning to brush and care for teeth as soon as their first tooth appears. Pediatric dentists even recommend cleaning a baby’s gums after feedings, long before their first teeth appear. Parents will have to do this for their children at first but starting when your child is a baby helps establish healthy routines for their future.

Make Dental Care Fun For Your Child


Many children often try to avoid brushing their teeth and taking care of their dental hygiene. This isn’t because they are lazy or gross, they simply don’t find the task interesting or fun and they don’t have the life experience to understand the importance of it yet. Parents can help by making the experience fun and exciting for their children. Choose fun and colorful toothbrushes your child will like. If they are old enough to choose their own brush, let them. Use the time as an opportunity for your child to spend quality time and connect with you – turn brushing into a game or sing songs while your child is brushing. Finally, when it is time for your child to see a dentist choose one who specializes in pediatrics as they will try to make the experience more comfortable and fun for your child.

Using A Healthy Diet To Improve Dental Health


A healthy, well-balanced diet is important to your child’s dental health and their overall health and well-being. Foods rich in Vitamins A, C, and D, and calcium such as eggs, nuts, fish, green vegetables, beans, and poultry are important to a healthy diet. These days, many processed foods are high in sugar, starch, and carbohydrates, which can all be harmful to teeth. An unhealthy diet speeds up tooth decay and increases other issues with dental health. Try to avoid foods high in sugary, and especially pay close attention to the amount of sugar in juices and drinks.

Schedule Your Well-Child Visit Today


Your child’s pediatrician will also check their teeth for any signs of concern during their well-child visits and will let you know when it is time to see a dentist. Contact Children’s Medical Center to schedule your child’s well-child visit with one of our board-certified pediatric doctors. We have four convenient office locations in Palm Harbor, Westchase, Trinity, and Lutz. We also have extended hours and are open 7 days a week! We look forward to meeting you and your child soon! 

Hand washing is one of the best things we can do to protect ourselves from the spread of germs and illnesses surrounding us every day. As parents, we want to encourage our children to develop healthy hygienic practices, but it is often difficult for children to understand the importance of hand washing. However, with consistency and practice you can teach your children to make proper hand washing become a habit they will carry with them throughout their life. Here are a few tips that will help parents encourage healthy hand washing practices:

Explain Why Hand Washing Is Important


Children are naturally curious and love to ask “why”. This curiosity is what they use to learn life-long habits and behaviors and how to tackle the world around them. The good news is that there is a simple explanation you can provide to answer “why” hand washing is so important. You should remember to handle the question with care and answer in an age-appropriate manner that will explain hand washing helps prevent the spread of germs without scaring your child.

Lead By Example


Leading our children by example is often one of the best ways to get them to make something a habit. If your children see you washing your hands on a regular basis, they are more likely to want to pick up the routine too. Try to incorporate regular hand washing into different parts of your daily routine – for example, wash your hands as soon as you get home, before and after meals, and after playing with pets.

Make Hand Washing Fun And Exciting


Hand washing can seem like a mundane and boring task, but it doesn’t have to be. You can make the experience fun and exciting for children by investing in fun liquid hand soap, a steep stool that will make it easier for them to reach the sink, and their own personal hand drying towel. To encourage your children to wash their hands long enough to effectively kill germs – at least 20 seconds – make it fun by using that time to sing a song, dance, or count out loud. Finally, make sure you end the experience by offering your child praise or a reward. A reward for a child doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, often a sticker or a high-five is enough to satisfy a child. Children love receiving praise, especially from their parents, so this can be an important step in making healthy hand washing practices a routine.

What To Do If Your Child Gets Sick


Even with the best hygienic practices, everyone still gets sick on occasion. Everyone in the family should continue to wash their hands routinely to prevent the spread of illness to other family members. If your child does come down with symptoms of an illness, contact their primary care provider at Children’s Medical Center to schedule a sick visit. We will do our best to get your child seen as soon as possible. 

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