Your child has returned from vacation full of energy. You would like it to last! Here is the health prescription that we have concocted our specialists so that the whole family keeps the fishing.
1. A good dose of sleep
- Sleep is the first medicine of children! "When a child does not sleep enough, his immune defenses weaken," says Dr. Patricia Franco, pediatrician at the sleep unit of the University Hospital of Lyon. This is the door open to infections of all kinds. How to help him sleep well in the autumn? First, by reinstalling a bedtime not too late. If a certain flexibility was introduced during the holidays, "fifteen days before the start of school, we advance the bedtime of fifteen minutes per night until the desired time," says Dr. Patricia Franco.
- A child from 3 to 6 years old needs an average of at least eleven hours of sleep per night. The afternoon nap, which lasts about two hours at the age of three, will gradually disappear between the ages of 3 and 6 years.
- From 6 to 12 years, a child needs to sleep at least 10 hours per night. After 12 years, nine hours of sleep will be enough.
- How do you know if your child is sleeping enough? Some pointers: Does he need to suck his thumb or take his blanket in the day? Is he grumpy? Finally, how is the end of the day? "Many parents say to me:" At 5 pm, it is untenable! "Says Dr. Patricia Franco." The nervous, irritable, sometimes even excited, children are tired. "Of course, like adults, some are rather in the evening or rather in the morning. But a real night owl will get up late ... But it is not possible with school! So, on weekdays, the only parade is to advance bedtime.
A regular bed
- Regularity in bedtime schedules is paramount. For a good reason: sleep does not catch up, it goes wrong. Sleeping your child two or three hours later at night will not prevent him from waking up at the same time as usual the next morning. It's missed for the morning sleep! As a bonus, he will be tired and grumpy.
- Another problem: if it is repeated, this lack of sleep increases the risk of "night terrors" because a child who does not sleep enough recuperates at the beginning of the night by linking more cycles of deep slow sleep, which favor them. "What is it?" Suddenly, your child starts screaming in his bed and when you go to see him, you can not talk to him, he does not hear you, do not panic, that's normal : he sleeps and you have to try to help him lie down and relax gently, without waking him up.These "night terrors" are frequent around 3-4 years, until about 6 years old, and do not have to worry For all these reasons, the ideal is to maintain the same bedtime every night.
A channeled energy at the end of the day
- A restful sleep, it gets ready right out of school! The ideal for a child is to be able to work after class. A sports activity helps evacuate tensions accumulated during the day. But no one asks you to sign up for a sports activity every night! To return from school by bike or scooter, making a detour through the park, it is also for him the opportunity to let off steam.
- And cartoons at tea time? "If you can, avoid, advises Dr. Patricia Franco, because it excites the children."
- Then, after dinner, set a quiet time: it's time to make him listen to a tale, read him a story. The greatest enemies of his sleep, you know them: they are the screens! "They stimulate children," says Dr. Patricia Franco, "The new LED screens are disrupting melatonin secretion and delaying sleep." What can you do to cope with your toddler's ceaseless demands? Set the rules upstream. For example: the TV or the tablet is before 18 h 30, not more than half an hour, during the week. And you do not come back. A good way to defuse conflict ...
Meals at fixed times (or almost!)
- Breakfast is the starter of the day, the meal not to be missed. "Studies have shown that children who eat a good breakfast eat better and more, throughout the day, without having a higher weight," says Dr. Jean-Michel Lecerf, who heads the nutrition department of Pasteur Institute of Lille. Hence the interest of awakening your schoolboy a little earlier, so that he takes this time. A balanced breakfast avoids the bar (hypoglycemia) and limits the desire to snack in the middle of the morning. Is it complicated to prepare a balanced breakfast? No, it's simple! Fruit or fruit juice, bread or cereals (more like muesli or quaker so you do not get used to too sweet cereals) and a dairy product.
- Lunch is often taken at the canteen, at fixed times. Ideally, the snack should not be swallowed too late in the afternoon, as the sweet foods cut off the appetite.
- For dinner, finally, try to put it to table early. A tired child pokes his nose on his plate. This may seem a bit restrictive, but when you have found that your young gourmet eats better when his meals are at fixed times, you will not hesitate!
A vitamin plate
- You do not have much time to cook? Above all, do not worry! Here are the simple and common sense tips of Dr. Jean-Michel Lecerf to compose balanced meals without stress.
- At lunch (if your child does not stay in the canteen) and especially at dinner, it gives pride of place to fruits and vegetables for their intake of vitamin C, vitamin B9 and beta-carotene. "So many nutrients essential for the health of the child and its immune defenses," says Dr. Jean-Michel Lecerf. Vitamin C (all fruits and vegetables) promotes the absorption of iron in food and helps to fight infections. Vitamin B9 or folic acid (liver, egg yolk, salad, spinach) is involved in the metabolism of amino acids and its deficiency can cause anemia. Beta-carotene (carrot, tomato, apricot) is converted by the body into vitamin A, which has a crucial role in the growth and resistance to childhood infectious diseases. Add to that a touch of vitamin D (fatty fish, salmon or tuna), a zest of magnesium (chocolate, pulses, nuts, hazelnuts ...) to fight against stress and anxiety and a touch of iron (red meat , pudding, calf's liver, lentils ...) and you're done!
- By regularly offering these foods to your child, you will have done everything possible to help him resist the first viruses of the fall. But do not expect miracles either! It is not because you often serve these foods that it will be "vaccinated" against all the viruses of winter ...
A little well washed nose
- To wash, to blow, to wash, to blow nose ... these gestures are indispensable. They are however often neglected or made in a hurry, favoring colds. "Simple washes of the nose twice a day with an isotonic salt water spray (or hypertonic in the case of a very stuffy nose), followed by a good moistening already greatly reduces the risk of seeing a big cold which will often be followed by 'an otitis, settle down,' says Dr. Christophe Grifon, ENT at the Atlantic Polyclinic in Saint-Herblain (44). The sprays have a higher efficiency than saline pods because salt water is sent further into the nasal cavity. This allows for deeper washing and better evacuation of mucus. Certain dietary supplements or sulfur-based nasal solutions (Actisoufre®, Solacy®) can also help prevent colds.
Extracurricular activities, yes ... but not too much!
- A child in good shape, it is also a child in good psychological health! This requires a good mix of time spent at school, at home and outside. Sports activities, in particular, help him to be well in his body by teaching him the balance, the temporo-spatial coordination and the control of his actions. By developing its muscle tone, the sport also promotes its growth. Finally, limiting the sedentary lifestyle is to reduce the risk of overweight. But good !
- "Be careful, however, not to choose too many extracurricular activities at the risk of exhausting and disgusting the child," says Sophie Marinopoulos, psychologist-psychoanalyst, who regularly sees in consultation with toddlers chaining three activities on Wednesday! Instead of being a rest day, Wednesday can become a marathon for kids and moms. Also be careful not to fall into the elitism. "In football, tennis, dance ... today we ask children to perform," says the specialist. Added to school, it's a lot of pressure. The ideal? One or two activities per week, chosen by the child, and practiced for pleasure above all.
- And the idleness? "On Wednesdays, a good snack at home with a box of Kapla next door is very good too!" Says Sophie Marinopoulos. The psychologist insists in her book on the virtues of boredom (My Psychology Booklet, Ed. Parents should not worry when their child repeats that he is bored. They can offer him some quiet activities to guide him: "Do you want to do a drawing or modeling clay? Do you want to read a little book with me?" In general, the child will imagine games and "overcome this boredom through activities that he has found alone," says the specialist. Boredom makes you stronger!
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