Put These Health Tips at the Top of Your Back-to-School List

iStock_000021680069_LargeThe end of summer means a new school year is right around the corner. While shopping for back-to-school clothing and supplies is one of the more time consuming tasks for families, don’t overlook steps that will help your child start the year on a healthy note.

Rise and Shine: Adjust Sleep Schedules Early

A drastic adjustment of sleep schedules the first day of school only creates frustration. Gradually re-introduce a school year schedule with a set bedtime and morning routine. During the last two weeks of summer, gradually shift routines so the first day of school can flow easily.

Depending on their age, children and teens need as much as 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night. Adequate sleep will not only help your child perform better in school, but also help keep his or her immune system in top shape.

Ease the Strain of Backpacks

Carrying too much weight in a backpack or wearing it the wrong way can lead to strained muscles and an aching back. A child’s backpack should weigh no more than about 10 percent of his or her body weight, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back. If the backpack is too heavy, your child can hand carry a book or other item outside the pack.

When wearing a backpack, be sure the weight is distributed evenly using both straps. Wearing a backpack over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort. Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly on the child’s back. If it hangs loosely, the backpack can strain muscles. The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back and should never fall more than four inches below the child’s waistline.

What’s In Your Lunchbox?

Packing a healthy lunch that your child thinks is tasty can be a challenge. Consider creative ways to pair fruits or vegetables with proteins. For example, hummus can serve as a dip for raw veggies. Cheddar cheese can accompany apple slices, while peanut butter tastes great with banana. As an alternative to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, try bean burritos, an english muffin pizza, or black bean and corn salad.

Know the School’s Health Rules

Find out about any requirements for vaccines or physicals before school starts. In North Carolina, children entering kindergarten and sixth grade are required by law to have certain vaccines. Both the school and your child’s physician will be familiar with the requirements.

If your child plans to participate in any type of sports, a current physical will be required. Check with the school office or school nurse about any forms the physician must sign or complete.

Also, if your child takes medications on a regular basis or needs to have an inhaler, epi-pen, or other type of medication on hand, you will need to have your physician complete a form for the office or school nurse to keep on file with the medication.

Need to Schedule a Physical or Vaccine?

Family practice physicians at LeBauer take care of children, teens and adults. If your child needs a healthcare provider, physical, or vaccines, contact us today. Our experienced family practice teams offer care in seven locations throughout the Triad.

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