5 ways to help keep your kids healthier over the summer

While summertime is wonderful for kids — full of playtime and new experiences — it can be challenging for parents to maintain healthy routines for them. Between schedule disruptions and longer days, helping kids stick to important habits for their well-being — like sleep and personal hygiene — can be tough. But with a few simple choices, parents and caregivers can reinforce positive routines, even during the summer.

Here are some tips to help your children focus on healthier habits this summer.

1. Make sure they get their zzz’s

Even when kids don’t have school, frequent changes in waking and sleeping schedules can be disruptive for children, who need a good night’s sleep to function well. No matter what’s happening during the summer, try to keep the same sleeping and waking times — even on weekends — so everyone gets their essential restorative sleep. The CDC recommends kids aged 6-12 get 9-12 hours of sleep per night, and teens aged 13-18 need 8-10 hours.

Create a simple bedtime routine appropriate for your kids’ ages (brushing teeth, reading a story, taking a bath) and stick to it every night.

2. Snack smarter and stay hydrated

Making sure kids eat well can also be challenging during the summer. Fortunately, it’s also the best time of year to boost servings of fruits and veggies. Visit pick-your-own orchards, farmers markets or even grow some produce so kids can learn more about healthy foods — and taste them when they’re at their peak freshness and flavor.

Make the foods you want them to eat accessible. For example, keep bowls of fruit or other healthy snacks on the counter, and store pre-cut fruits and veggies in easy-to-open, see-through containers at your kids’ eye level in the fridge, so they’re the first things they notice when hunting for snacks.

It’s also crucial to stay hydrated. Give your kids sturdy water bottles filled with fresh, cold water (and ice!) to take along, wherever they’re headed. When temps are hot and kids are active, encourage them to take frequent water breaks, even before they feel thirsty. It can be all too easy to get involved in playing and forget to hydrate.

3. Encourage consistent oral hygiene

Oral hygiene is vital, and according to the Mayo Clinic is a window to a person’s overall health. At minimum, kids should be flossing and brushing at least twice daily to help ensure they are taking good care of their teeth and gums. For extra protection for children six and older, they should also use dentist-formulated TheraBreath for Kids, a new great-tasting anti-cavity oral rinse in three certified-organic flavors: Grapes Galore, Strawberry Splash and Wacky Watermelon. With no dyes or added colors, these vegan and gluten-free mouthwashes are powered by fluoride to strengthen children’s teeth and enamel, help them fight cavities and prevent tooth decay.

“It can be challenging to ensure children maintain good oral health habits, and many parents struggle to find products that are healthy and safe,” said Dr. Harold Katz, dentist and founder of the TheraBreath brand. “Combining the expertise of a dentist and the care of a parent, we’re proud to introduce the new TheraBreath for Kids, for parents looking for safe and effective oral care products for their children.”

4. Stay active

The CDC recommends children have 60 minutes of physical activity each day, so be sure to provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor play. Kids feeling bored? Set up lawn games like badminton or bean bag toss — or create an obstacle course or scavenger hunt. Hot outside? Run through the sprinkler, visit a pool or head to the beach. Make sure to keep sunscreen handy to minimize exposure to UV rays.

Joining your kids in active play can be especially fun and motivating. When did you last go on a family hike or bike ride? Or consider playing tourist by visiting area parks or outdoor attractions together.

5. Keep their brains healthy, too

You can help prevent the “summer slide” in learning by keeping children engaged in reading throughout the summer. Participating in local library programs, reading to and with your child, providing age-appropriate books and incentives for reading every day can help keep their minds active when they’re out of school.

Even though kids are on summer vacation, that doesn’t mean all their healthy habits have to go out the window. Keep the most important habits for optimal well-being as part of your family’s routine, all summer long.

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