Habits are those actions and behaviors that we do repeatedly and that, after a while, become a little more automatic. In other words, when we adopt them, they are actions that become a natural part of our life. Eating fruits and vegetables, drinking water, going to sleep early, brushing our teeth, being active, taking a shower, amongst other daily actions, are called healthy habits.
At first, when your child is still little, you’ll be the one making the decisions: you’ll choose their food, at what time they need to take a bath, and you’ll remind them to brush their teeth. This is part of the things parents teach their kids so that, in the future, they continue doing them by themselves.
A child that has healthy habits is more likely to become an adult who keeps practicing them. But you’ll wonder: when can I start teaching my little one some healthy habits? The general answer to that question is since they’re a baby! Here we’ll explain a little more about the topic.
During the first two years of life, the healthy habits that can be practiced are: healthy eating, sleeping well, being active, and limiting the use of screens.
The most important part of having a healthy diet is developing a positive relationship with food. Around six months old, babies start eating solids besides milk. As a parent, we recommend to give your little one a variety of foods that have different flavors, textures, and colors.
At first, it might be difficult for your baby to accept new foods and sometimes you’ll need to offer them more than 10 times before your child gets used to the new item. This will help you raise a child that’s not a picky eater. Also, when they are a little older, teach them the difference between healthy food and junk food, which should be eaten sporadically. Also, teach them to prefer water or milk over fruit juice or drinks that contain a lot of sugar.
To contribute to the healthy relationship that your child will develop with food, offer them different healthy options during meals and snacks, don’t force them to finish things they don’t like yet, or eat while using screens. Mealtimes are a great moment to spend time together and talk!
Sleeping the right number of hours and having a good night’s rest is key to having energy the next day. A newborn has an erratic sleeping schedule and must sleep a lot, so it’s not recommended to establish fixed sleeping hours. Later on, when children are 4 or 6 months, parents can start establishing a sleeping routine and promote this healthy habit.
Sleeping enough must be a priority, always following the recommendations according to the child’s age and needs. At first, it might be hard, but perseverance will give good results. Healthy sleeping habits include having enough hours of sleep during the night, taking naps according to the child’s age, and establishing routines for before bed and for waking up. All of these bring benefits such as a greater ability to deal with new experiences, interact with others, and develop memory and attention skills.
Also, along with the bedtime routine, you can add other positive habits in your child’s life. For example, when they are older, you can create a routine that includes taking a bath, brushing their teeth, and reading a story before going to sleep.
If your little one was an active baby, they’ll probably grow to be an active little child and continue being like that when they grow older. Foster play! During their first year, you can hang toys near them so they can touch or kick them, and when they’re able to hold objects, you can give them toys so they can manipulate them. After the year, you may want to play outside, dance, and have fun playing hide and seek or other games. The important part is that you keep your child active. Allow them to run, dance, and climb as long as they’re in a safe environment. Reduce sedentarism and spend quality time together.
Before kids are two years old it is recommended to limit the use of screens. In case you use them, they must be to do video calls and, if you show your little one a video, it should be educational, and they must watch it under your supervision. That same rule applies to when they are older. Make sure that they are watching quality content and that the screen time doesn’t exceed an hour per day.
We know that implementing all these healthy habits in your child’s life might be a challenge, but you’ll see that the results are worth it. Even though these behaviors must be done day by day, also help your little one understand that sometimes they can do things differently. There will be special occasions when they’ll sleep later than usual or when they’ll eat some cake. It’s normal, as long as it is occasional.
Lastly, remember that parents are role models of their children. The best way to teach your child is by showing them healthy habits through your actions.