Remember the Three B’s: A Healthy Routine to Take Into The New Year

The holiday season is a time of sharing and togetherness, which often comes with an abundance of delicious treats for our little ones to indulge in. Additionally, with schools being closed for winter break, and possibly traveling to visit family, bedtime routines can become a bit slack. This season presents the perfect opportunity to share the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Brush, Book, Bed Program with our Urgent Care for Children families.

Proper tooth brushing is essential to healthy child development. Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic illnesses in children two to 19 years of age. If left untreated, tooth decay can cause infections, abscesses, mouth pain, problems eating and sleeping, growth delay, school absence, and poor well-being in general. In rare cases, it can cause sepsis and death. Parents can help young children learn proper brushing techniques by forming good habits as soon as they’re born. Gently wipe your baby’s gums with a soft washcloth after breast or bottle feeding. When your child’s first tooth comes in, you can begin to brush with a small smear of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice. Children ages three to 6 can brush twice a day with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on a soft-bristled brush; this is also a good time for them to begin brushing on their own. However, they may insist that they’ve done a good job brushing, yet parents should check for thoroughness. If your child is resistant to brushing their teeth, parents can get creative and make a game of it!

After your little one is cozy in their pajamas, with freshly brushed teeth, it’s time to snuggle up with a good book. Reading aloud with your child for just 15 minutes a day is beneficial for their development, and it’s never too early to start reading books as part of their bedtime routine! Reading to your baby helps strengthen familial bonds. Several studies conducted over the years have shown that reading to your child can significantly boost vocabulary, reading, and social skills which will serve them well throughout their lifetime. It’s worth noting that the benefits of reading out loud to your child will continue even after they are able to read independently. Further, reading to your child nightly has been found to help soothe them to sleep.

A consistent routine that includes establishing good sleep habits promotes healthy brain development and has been shown to decrease attention, behavior, and learning problems. The daily recommended amount of sleep for children’s optimal health is as follows:

  • Ages 4 – 12 months: 12 – 16 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 1 – 2 years: 11 – 14 hours (including naps)
  • Ages 3 – 5 years: 10 – 13 hours (including naps)
  • Age 6 -12 years: 9 – 12 hours
  • Age 13 – 18 years: 8 – 10 hours

Sticking to a regular sleep schedule for a busy teenager might prove to be even more challenging than putting down a fussy toddler for the night. Teens are more independent; their days are filled with activities and friends. Curling up with a good book might not be in their plans. Yet, achieving the recommended eight to 10 hours of sleep can reduce such adverse consequences as impairments in mood, self-regulation, attention, memory, and behavior control. Thus, laying the foundation for a healthy bedtime routine and encouraging your older child to help establish and maintain a steady bedtime routine for their overall health is truly vital.

Remember to share any notable changes in your child’s sleep patterns with their regular pediatrician, and maintain your child’s pediatric dental appointments. Urgent Care for Children’s pediatric providers are standing by in a convenient location near you, all 365 days a year, to deliver quality urgent care when your family needs it, including over the holidays. Cheers to a happy healthy holiday and new year for all of our UC4C families!