Tips to keep kids healthy

by Katelin Whiddon

We all want to be healthy, and even more than that, we want our children to be healthy. These days there is more information on what to do and what NOT to do for health. Sadly, with so much information out there, it is hard to sift through it all at times.

One way to be sure your children are healthy is to keep them up-to-date on regular checkups. Talk with your child’s pediatrician to know when their routine checkups should take place. Generally these are done once a year, but before the age of 2, those checkups occur more often. These checkups will help to catch any possible problems, ensure your child is developing appropriately and keep your children up-to-date on vaccinations. If you have any questions about vaccines, your pediatrician will be glad to educate you on their benefits.

Along with the pediatrician, children should have regular checkups regarding their eyes and teeth. There are various opinions about when to start taking your child to the dentist. I started taking my children at age 2, but most pediatric dentists will see a child as soon as teeth erupt if needed. If at any time you have concerns about your child’s teeth, do not hesitate to have them seen to evaluate their tooth and gum health.

Ask your child’s pediatrician when they recommend seeing an eye doctor for routine screenings. Of course, if your child has any difficulty seeing — such as squinting, difficulty seeing the board at school, sitting closer to the television, etc. — you will want to have their eyes checked. And while they check for vision problems, an eye doctor can also evaluate your child’s eye health. Most insurance companies will allow for a screening once a year or every other year. Be sure to take advantage of that benefit and keep your child’s eye health a priority.

Good hand hygiene is one of the best ways to keep you and your children healthy. Remind your children to wash their hands frequently to cut down on the spread of germs. Always make sure hands are washed before eating, after using the restroom or after anything else that would cause hands to be more soiled.

Teach your children to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” while washing their hands to make sure they wash the right length of time. Having good hand hygiene will help to eliminate many unwanted sick days for both you and your children.

Never underestimate the importance of good sleep. Ensuring your children get enough sleep can help improve their health and behavior. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following sleep hours per 24 hours (including naps) by age group:

Infants (4-12 months)    12-16 hours
1-2 year olds    11-14 hours
3-5 year olds    10-13 hours
6-12 year olds    9-12 hours
13-18 year olds    8-10 hours

Health is defined in so many ways, and even if we make small improvements in our health, each step counts. We should make it a priority to keep ourselves and our children healthy so we can enjoy each other for years to come.


A Conway native, Katelin Whiddon is a nurse practitioner at the Conway wound clinic for Arkansas Heart Hospital. She and her husband, Daniel, have two daughters. A University of Central Arkansas graduate, she has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and has worked previously in pediatrics.