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What You Need to Know About Keeping Your Child Healthy

Toddler sleeping
Children don't come with an instruction manual. And that means you've got questions. From whether or not your newborn's sleep patterns are normal to what vaccinations your teen needs, caring for your kids can be confusing. But that doesn't mean you have to live your entire parenting life in a state of quandary. There are answers - and many of them are much less complicated than you might think.

What do you need to know about your child, their health, and their development? Answering this question involves an almost infinite stream of information. But for right now, getting the lowdown on some of the most common issues that children and families face will give you a place to start. Take a look at some of the most often asked questions about children's health that parents have.

How Much Sleep Should a Newborn Get?

Newborns spend much of their days and nights asleep. Most likely, your newborn sleeps for between eight and nine hours during the day and up to eight hours during the nighttime. Keep in mind, this doesn't mean that your newborn (or any newborn, for that matter) sleeps for eight to nine consecutive hours.

It's more likely that your newborn is sleeping for brief bursts, such as three-hour periods, and then waking to eat. If your newborn seems to be sleeping for extended periods of time or is wakeful for more hours than not, always talk to the doctor. A pediatrician can assess the situation and determine if something is causing disrupted or atypical sleep patterns.

Even though it's normal for a newborn to sleep more often than not in a 24-hour period, that can change quickly. Between three and six months, your baby may start sleeping for five-hour stretches at night. When your child is six to twelve months old, this number may increase, with your child waking only once or twice for feedings and diaper changes.

What's the Best Way to Take a Toddler's Temperature?

By the time your child reaches age two, they're likely on the move most of the time. Your toddler has gone from barely pulling themselves up to walking, and maybe even running, in what seems like record time. Now that they're in constant motion, taking your tot's temperature has become a major challenge.

Whether your child feels warm after getting a routine vaccination or you think they may be sick, taking their temperature provides you (and the doctor) with vital information. Instead of expecting your toddler to patiently sit with a thermometer under their tongue, a temporal thermometer (these scan the forehead/temple area) may be a better option.

Likewise, a tympanic (or ear) thermometer allows you to take your little one's temperature without asking them to keep their mouth closed for a few minutes.

Is Screen Time Healthy for a Child?

Screen time may not seem like a health concern. But this passive pursuit can contribute to medical issues such as obesity.

Children under 18 months should not engage in media viewing/screen time unless they're video chatting with another person, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP also recommends that between the ages of two and five, parents should limit screen time to one hour per day. This hour should include only quality programming, such as educational programs.

Elementary school-aged children and older kids should have screen time limits that help them to understand that media use isn't a priority. This means school, homework, after-school activities, physical activities, and sleep should never take a backseat to screen time.

Do Teens Still Need Vaccinations?

Your teen may act or look like an adult. But they still need mom and dad to guide the way. This includes bringing them to the pediatrician for regular visits and staying on top of preventative health measures.

Along with an annual flu shot, tweens (ages 11 to 12) should receive the HPV vaccine series. Teens may also need meningococcal, pneumococcal, or hepatitis A and B vaccinations, depending on their health history. 

Do you have more questions about your child's health? Contact Family Practice Centre of Livonia & Canton for more information.