Children's Health: How to raise healthy & happy kids
Having children is one of life’s biggest blessings - and with it comes a great responsibility to raise them as happy, healthy people.
The big problem today is that parents are exposed to so many mixed messages about how to give their kids the best start in life...
Everything from which foods to eat, whether or not to vaccinate and how to keep them emotionally fulfilled are all critical areas where we need to keep it simple and trust in our intuition in terms of what's right for them and their long-term all round health.
Here are my thoughts and insights on the subject...
Breastfeeding is a natural process and I believe that women should nurse their babies for as long as they possibly can. In fact, some of my own children nursed up to age 5.
Besides the nutritional benefits for a small child, there is a powerful bonding that often develops between a mother and baby the longer a child is nursed on the breast.
It can take some new mums a little while to get the hang of breastfeeding and it can be frustrating for some, but persevere for as long as you can because the benefits to you and your baby are well worth it.
If it becomes just too difficult, try expressing your milk or go with the next best thing to human mother's milk which is raw, goats milk if it's not against your belief systems.
Avoid pharmaceutical "formulas" at all costs.
Another thing that impacts babies, especially in their infancy and before age one, is the emotional atmosphere of the home.
Try to create a calm, nurturing, loving environment because it will help to build healthy emotional stability in the child and a strong immune system.
If small children are surrounded by a lot of anger or emotional trauma, they will likely have a greater tendency to develop conditions like anxiety, asthma and emotional unrest later in life.
Emotional molecules are very real in the growth of a child, so you need to foster an environment that makes them feel safe and emotionally nourished which will give them a greater chance of a more balanced and fulfilling childhood and adult life.
Of course, not everything is perfect all of the time and young children aren't always easy.
So, in times of frustration or unrest around the home, the best thing to do is let it air out!
Open the windows and doors, go play on the grass or go for a walk outside to the park or beach for 30 minutes or so - either with your baby in a pram or on your own if you can. Whatever you do, try to disrupt the environment by changing the atmosphere around the home and your state of mind by doing some type of gentle activity.
When you see little children acting up and getting out of hand, so often it’s because of the emotional scarring that took place within their first two years of life.
Be aware that your child's early behaviours are generally little mirrors of ours. They will notice these patterns and will quickly learn that changing the atmosphere is such a simple way to get back to a healthy state of mind whenever frustration arises if you teach them the way.
Food & Nutrition
What you feed your children from an early age will set the tone for what they refer to as food, how their taste buds are wired and the eating habits they'll fall into for life.
For this reason, it's important to shape these habits by making wholesome food choices during the early stages of their life when you're in charge.
Avoid giving them soda pop or processed, sugary drinks of any kind as they'll quickly develop a dependency on these. Instead, make clean water and fresh squeezed juices their staple drinks and once they get to school age they won't even be interested in soft drinks.
Before they can chew, you can also make fruit smoothies a regular part of their diet, because they will naturally gain the taste for fresh fruit this way which will serve them long term as they grow into active, little kids.
Try to avoid all commercial brands of baby food as much as you possibly can. Instead, mash up some ripe banana or mango at home to make your own simple baby foods.
You can also steam and mash vegetables like pumpkin, sweet potato, potatoes, zucchinis and others, which is also a great way to go. Experiment and discover what's convenient for you to make and tasty and wholesome for your child to eat.
Once they're a bit older, sit them down and start talking to them about fruits and vegetables and how they lay a foundation of health and vitality for our bodies and show them the signatures of foods i.e. how they are shaped like certain parts of the human body.
For example, show them how a sliced carrot looks just like the pupil of the eyes, how celery looks like the bones, a tomato is like the heart and how an apple a day keeps the doctor away because they have a five-pointed star inside!
Or show them how a walnut looks just like the brain and if they eat them it’s going to make them smart.
This kind of conversation will stay with your kids about why a variety of wholefoods are so important in their diet as they grow up.
Plant-Based v Meat
Many parents will feed their children meat from an early age believing that if they don't, their child will miss out on nutrients.
This is a total myth.
A child's natural propensity is not to eat dead animals unless it is forced by the parent and associated with a positive, emotional response as reinforcement.
Left with a choice of eating chopped fruit, vegetables or meat and without intervention from the parent, the child will choose the plant food every time.
But when the mum or dad says, “Okay now, eat your meat, come on ...it’s going to make you healthy and strong, go on... eat your meat!” and then they're congratulated for doing so, pretty soon the child associates a degree of pleasure and satisfaction with that particular food.
The problem is that once a child's taste buds are pushed over to the fats, heat, animal fluids and serums, they'll become 'hard-wired' for it and it will be very difficult to get the child back loving fruits and vegetables (particularly once they become exposed to the diets of other kids as they grow).
Give them a wide variety of plant based foods and even free range eggs and organic milk, yogurts and cheeses to help support healthy gut bacteria as well.
Do this and they'll get everything they need nutrition-wise. It doesn't mean they can't have a treat every once in a while, but they'll be less interested in food-less foods and life-less drinks if they haven't be raised on them from the beginning.
Finally, please avoid processed and refined sugars and flour as much as possible e.g. processed and packaged sugary cereals, candies, cakes and cookies. This will help them avoid all kinds of ailments and a host of behavioural problems as well.
My opinion of pharmaceutical vaccines is that I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole.
If you want your child 'innoculated' against just about every disease that it can ever be exposed to, go with nature's vaccines which are a variety of berries when they're fresh and in season in your area. The word 'berry' is derived from the latin 'vaccinium' which is where the word vaccine comes from.
Put a bowl of fresh raspberries, blackberries or chopped strawberries in front of a small child and see how they love them!
Air is the first principle of health and it also applies to the care of your child.
Make sure that every moment or every day the child is in a room where the air is moving - open a window or door that has a fly screen and/or have a ceiling fan or box fan lightly spinning.
There are published studies to show that sudden infant death syndrome comes from children being in rooms where the air is stagnant. Those little lungs are not developed so it's extra important that they are exposed to air that moves.
Active parents will usually raise active kids.
From an early age, if you involve your baby in outdoor activity and exercise as a habit, they'll want to continue that as they get older.
Chase a ball outside, walk your dog with baby by the beach, ride a bike with a saddle for your little one attached, or do something socially with friends who have small kids in the park.
When they're a little older, encourage them to continue with as much outdoor activity as possible e.g. a trampoline in the backyard and teach them to ride a scooter or bike.
Get them out in nature whenever you can and explore so that their senses are continually on fire and stimulated.
By doing these types of things, they'll also associate fun with exercise which is what it's all about!
These days it's very easy for kids to fall into the trap of relying on stimulus from computer games, TV's and ipads. This is fine in moderation, but don't let it be the predominate activity they do for fun when they're small, or chances are it will become habit.
Despite all the new technologies and media messages that confuse the life out of parents, remember that nothing beats keeping things simple with raising your children to help give them happy, healthy foundations for life.