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breastfeeding

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Women have breastfed babies throughout history, but the relatively recent invention of infant formula means that new mothers now have more of a choice about how they feed their children.

Whilst formula is a great option for some parents, new mothers are urged to consider breastfeeding if they are able to, because breastfeeding is known [...] Read more →

kids martial arts

Activities to Strengthen Muscles and Bones

It is important for children to engage in physical activity to encourage their physical development. All physical activities help children to develop their motor skills, but some activities also help children to develop mental skills as well.

Different physical activities also help children to develop certain areas of their bodies. Your child’s paediatrician may actually [...] Read more →

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Sports for Children

Sports help to promote fitness in children, as well as giving them an environment to improve other skills.

Most sports help to improve physical coordination in children and help to develop their motor skills. Some sports give children the opportunity to interact socially with other people in their age group, and allow them to develop [...] Read more →

Recommended Sites

Lots of information and recommended guidelines from the NHS on childrens health. Click the image to visit.


NHS Choices


Detailed information and resources from the UK government website. Click the image to visit.


Gov UK

Keeping your Child Active during the School Holidays

active children

Active children

If your children do a lot of sports and after-school clubs, you may find that they are bursting with energy during the school holidays. Keeping their energy level up is a great idea to promote continued health and fitness, although this is often easier said than done! It can make things very difficult for working parents, who need to find plenty of options to keep the children entertained.

However, there are plenty of options for parents who are willing to think outside of the box.

Summer Schools

During the summer holidays there are plenty of camps and summer schools that you can send your children to whilst you are at work. Some of these camps are run by corporations, whilst others may be run by the local council or community groups.

There are lots of different formats for these gatherings. Some camps are day camps only, and the participants go home every night, whereas other camps are residential. Some summer schools are for single sports (e.g. football), whereas others are multi-disciplinary.

Summer camps give your children the opportunity to socialise with other children during the holiday period, as well as allowing them to remain active.

Gardening

Give your children a patch of garden to tend to. Help them to choose what they want to grow and explain the importance of taking care of the plants properly. Show them how to clear the patch and remove weeds from the garden.

Children are often the most enthusiastic about gardening when they are growing something that can be eaten. It can be fun for them to watch something grow, blossom and then turn into a fruit or vegetable which will then be eaten. Alternatively, children love things that are bigger or better than anything else in the garden, e.g. sunflowers.

It is possible to get loads of gardening tools that are designed especially for children, and they are sure to work up a sweat in the garden.

Hiking

Hiking and orienteering are really fun pastimes for children, because they help to keep children moving whilst also helping them to build their map-reading skills.

Before you set off on a walk or around an orienteering course, you can help your children to familiarise themselves with all of the symbols on the map. Show them how to identify where they are using the things that they can see around them, such as hills, streams and walls.

Before you go on your hike, agree on the route that you are going to take and then allow the children to be the chief navigators. You will only need to step in if you get lost. Many children love to map read, because it reminds them of a treasure hunt. If you decide to go on a special orienteering course, you will also have the added fun of finding all of the checkpoints that are in the route.

Many orienteering courses offer participants a special electronic “dibber” which must be touched to the checkpoints to record each visit. Children will love to wear the dibber and check into each marker.

Beach Activities

The beach is a great place for staying active because there are so many different things to do. Building sandcastles will help your children to keep their energy levels up, whilst also giving them the chance to flex their creative muscles as well.

If your children are more interested in taming the awesome power of nature, then they may want to try to dam a river or stream that flows out onto the beach. Many beaches in the UK have small streams or rivers that flow out onto them, and most children love to use sand and other resources to try to block them off. This is an impossible task, but it is one that will keep children entertained and active for hours on end.

Safety should always be the top priority with children when around water.

Dance Mat Games

If your children have to be engrossed in video games during the summer, make sure that they are physical ones.

Dance mats games are connected up to a console and participants are given set dance moves to follow. They are able to score points by doing the right steps at the right time. These dance routines can be very active, but they may keep your children busy for hours if they want to practice their steps. These mats are a great way to keep your children physically active if the weather outside is not very good. The only drawback is that you might have to listen to the same song on repeat for the whole day!

Healthy Snacks for Kids

Snacking can be really bad for children, but most children will crave tasty treats throughout the day.

Most children do need some additional food between mealtimes, to help to sustain their growing bodies and to give them vital nutrients. Snacks are especially important for really active children, such as those who do a lot of sports or outdoor activities. However, you should always try to restrict snacking to a maximum of twice a day; once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

healthy snack

Healthy snack

It is possible to give kids healthy snacks that they will love to eat. Here are a few of the best snack ideas for kids, which beat pre-packaged crisps and chocolate:

Frozen Yogurt Pops

Yogurt pops are a perfect treat when the weather is warmer.

Low-fat and low-sugar yogurts can be put into moulds with a lolly stick and then set hard in the freezer. They taste just like ice cream treats but they are normally less sugary than shop-bought frozen treats. You can add an extra dimension to frozen yogurt bars by stirring in frozen berries before you set them to freeze.

The calcium from cow’s milk yogurt is great for helping to build strong bones and teeth in your children.

Dips and Vegetables

Vegetable sticks are really great for your children to snack on after school, especially when they are served with tasty dips like hummus.

Crunchy vegetables like pepper strips and carrot sticks are good choices, because they are strong enough to hold and dip without them starting to bend. Celery sticks are particularly good because their crescent shape means that they are able to pick up lots of dip.

Dips made with pureed beans (such as borlotti beans) and a few spices are really tasty and offer lots of essential vitamins. Small pots of dip and vegetables can also be packed into lunch boxes for your children to enjoy whilst they are at school.

Fruit Kebabs

Mixed fruit “kebabs” are a fun choice for children who are old enough to use kebab skewers safely. There are so many different fruits available that it is possible to make skewers which include every colour of the rainbow.

Making fruit kebabs can give children the opportunity to experiment with different colours and textures. The wide variety of fruits that you can use means that it is easier for you to get your children to eat all of the vitamins and minerals that they require, without needing to eat the same things every single day.

Although fruit kebabs are a great treat, they should not be consumed at every snack time, because some of the fruits that you use will be high in natural sugar. Although fruit sugar is not considered to be as bad as refined sugar, it can still be bad for their teeth. However, if you do want to give your children an occasional treat, you can put a light drizzle of melted chocolate over the kebabs before serving. Cool the kebabs for a few minutes after drizzling the chocolate on top to allow it to have time to set.

Baked Crisps

Your children can eat crisps sometimes, as long as they eat them in moderation. Banning foods altogether will only make them seem more appealing in the long run!

If you children are craving crisps, offer them baked options instead of the fried ones. Baked options usually contain far less saturated fat than normal crisps do. If you are good in the kitchen, you can also make your own baked crisps, including crisps from non-potato options.

Kale crisps are very popular for home-bakers, as they crisp up easily. Just give them a light spritz of oil and then bake them in the oven. Other “vegetable crisp” options include beetroot crisps or parsnip crisps. If you do want to try making your own baked crisps, you need to be able to slice the vegetables very thinly to allow them to bake well.

Mixed Seeds

Mixed seeds are an excellent choice for a light snack, because they tend to be very high in essential vitamins and minerals. A handful of seeds will often include the recommended daily intake of certain vital nutrients.

Mixed seeds are available in flavoured and non-flavoured choices. Although some of the flavoured options are delicious, you should always check the nutritional values before you buy them. For example, maple roasted seeds are available which may contain high levels of sugar, whereas soy-roasted seeds may be high in sodium.

If your children enjoy growing sunflowers, it can be great fun to harvest the seeds at the end of the season and then dry them out to eat them. Lightly toast the seeds in the oven before you eat them to help to produce a delicious flavour. Add a few spices if you want to try a different flavour.