5 Health Habits You Should Never Skip

Some healthy habits are OK to let slide on occasion. But these five habits should be non-negotiable with kids.

Little Girl Washing Her Hands
Photo: Halfpoint/shutterstock

1. Using car seats. More kids are killed as passengers in car accidents than from any other type of injury. Minimize your child's risk by buckling him up in an age-appropriate car seat every time you get into a car.

2. Getting regular checkups. Keeping immunizations up-to-date is key. But periodic pediatrician visits also help ensure that your child is growing properly. "We can detect developmental changes that may need treatment," says Donald Schiff, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. "Well visits are not just for shots."

3. Washing hands. It's one of the easiest ways to prevent illness. Teach your kids to wash up after going to the bathroom, before eating, after touching animals, and after playing outside. Keep a stash of sterilizing hand gel or wet wipes in your diaper bag or car to swab away germs.

4. Finishing off antibiotics. Even if your child feels better, use the entire course of antibiotics (unless otherwise prescribed by your doctor). If you don't, the bacteria may not be completely killed, and the infection could return; there's also the risk of creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

5. Wearing sunscreen. Using sunscreen daily on your kids protects them against severe sunburns that can cause skin cancer later and also helps create a lifelong habit. Be vigilant during the hours when the sun is directly overhead, and don't forget that kids get burned on cloudy days too.

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