If your partner is pregnant, she’s probably paying extra attention to her health at this important time. But, did you know that your health is also key for baby’s well-being? So, if you’re due for an annual check-up, make an appointment. Your healthcare provider will make sure you’re up to date on vaccines and will screen for health conditions such as obesity, pre-diabetes and high blood pressure. And consider the following healthy steps:
- If you smoke, stop. Infants who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS.
- If you haven’t seen the dentist in a while, make an appointment. Routine professional dental care for parents may actually have a positive impact on a baby’s health.
- If your diet is in need of an overhaul or you need more physical activity, now is the perfect time. Research shows dad’s weight correlates with childhood obesity.
Once your baby arrives, be patient. It takes about 6 weeks for most women to feel better after giving birth. Be aware that not only women suffer from postpartum depression (PPD); dads do as well. Contact your healthcare provider if you suspect you or your partner is suffering from PPD.
Water is one of the body’s most essential nutrients; however, healthy babies do not need extra water for the first six months of life because it exists naturally in breast milk and is added to formula. Giving babies extra water can be dangerous as it can disturb the baby’s electrolytes and potentially lead to seizures. So, when can baby start drinking water?
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics at about six months, most babies are eating solids, and it’s okay to introduce a few sips of water at this time
- If it’s hot outside, you can give baby a little extra water, but always check with your pediatrician as to how much
- After the first year, the recommendation for toddlers is about five and a half cups of water each day, but that includes water from all food and beverages
And, remember, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk or formula as baby’s sole source of nutrition for the first six months of life and a major source of nutrition for the first year. So, at six months, give baby a few sips, but don’t fill her up on water.
Children love to imitate mom and dad, and this puts parents in an ideal situation to model healthy habits. While no one can be perfect all the time, eating a healthy diet and being physically active with your children on most days sends the right message. In addition, consider modeling the following healthy behaviors recommended by the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Limit screen time – whether it’s a television, computer or phone screen
- Wear your seatbelt
- Wear a helmet for activities such as biking or skating
- Apply sunscreen
- Brush and floss teeth every day
- Don’t smoke
- Wash hands
- Make time for family dinner
Finally, if you make it a habit to reach for water instead of soda or juice to quench your thirst, your children will most likely make water their beverage of choice. Not only will this healthy habit help control calories, but it will also reduce the risk for tooth decay.