Dr. Mohammad Ghali
JACKSON, MI – Keeping children of all ages healthy and happy requires a mix of common sense, regular doctor checkups, immunizations and lots of love.
The best start is an early start. Pregnant women should seek prenatal care early and follow their obstetrician’s instructions about vitamins, nutrition and lifestyle choices.
Within three days of discharge from the hospital, the baby should have the first of 10 well-child visits that should occur during the child’s first two years. These visits will include scheduled immunizations, monitoring of the child’s development and advice about safety and nutrition.
A few tips about that first year:
· Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby.
· Babies should sleep alone in a safe place on their backs.
· Buckling your baby in a car seat that’s properly fastened in the car is a must.
· Never leave a baby on a sofa, bed or table unattended – even for a second.
· Do not prop up a bottle for a baby.
· Interact with your baby – talk, play and read to your child.
· Be vigilant. If your child seems lethargic or has a fever, breathing difficulty, vomiting and/or diarrhea or appears dehydrated, call your child’s doctor immediately.
As your child ages, some of the same advice – age-appropriate – remains:
· Continue with annual doctor checkups and immunizations.
· Keep your child’s teeth clean, particularly at bedtime. Dental visits should begin at age 1, or when the first tooth erupts, for a fluoride treatment. Follow your dentist’s recommendations for follow-up visits.
· Safety is important. Children are curious. Keep floors clean of items a child can stumble on. Cover electrical outlets, maintain hot water at below 120 degrees, keep chemicals and medicines out of the reach of children and use car seats. Younger children like to explore with their mouths. Keep small objects away from their grasp to avoid choking.
· Avoid having a child sip on milk or juice all the time. Substitute water. No more than 24 ounces of milk a day.
· Children should be encouraged to eat a variety of foods – vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry and seafood. Starting at 6 months, babies can start with cereal and baby food. It is important to introduce one food, such as squash or peas, at a time for a week to see if there is an allergic reaction.
· At ages 1 and 2, children should have their lead and hemoglobin levels checked.
· Childhood accidents occur more often when visitors or other situations break the household’s routine. Pools are an attractive hazard and drowning is a very real concern for young children. Pools should be fenced.
· No smoking around children of any age.
· Keep children away from stoves, ovens, grills and irons.
· Create opportunities for your child to interact with other children so they learn social-interaction skills.
· Starting at age 3, discuss not talking to strangers and the difference between good and bad touches.
· Once children are in school, work with teachers on behavior issues and to flag conditions, such as dyslexia and ADHD.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, explain to your children what’s going on. Reassure them that this is temporary and encourage them to express their feelings. Use visual media to communicate with loved ones and take your children outside so they can run and play (while practicing social distancing).
If children seem particularly anxious or depressed, phone therapy is available.
At any age, children need lots of hugs. They need to know they are valuable and special.
– Dr. Mohammad Ghali is a pediatrician who sees patients at the Center for Family Health, 505 N. Jackson St.