Decatur - As the remaining days of summer come to an end and a new school year begins, St. Mary's Hospital reminds parents that it is time to prepare their child for the new school year.
Dr. Samir Patel, with HSHS Medical Group Pediatrics, recommends the following back to school health tips to ensure a safe and healthy school year:
1. Make sure your child is up-to-date on all shots. Review your child's immunization records with their doctor and make sure that they are up-to-date on all immunizations before heading back to school.
2. Obtain a physical. Yearly well visits and sports physicals are an important part of each school year, even if they are not mandated by the school. Yearly physicals enable your health care provider to monitor growth and development, update immunizations, determine risks for sports participation and discuss safety issues.
3. Hand Washing. Before your child goes back to school make sure they understand the importance of proper hand washing. Soap and water can reduce your child's risk of infection. A child should wash their hands before eating and after using the restroom.
4. Backpack Safety. Choose a backpack with wide shoulder straps and make sure your child uses both straps evenly across the back. Having all of the weight over one shoulder can lead to muscle strain. Advise your child to pack lightly. A backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child's body weight.
5. Eat healthy. Always provide your child with a nutritious breakfast. Most schools have their cafeteria's menu online or they send them home with students enabling you to plan your child's lunches in advance. Pack a nutritious lunch on days your child prefers not to eat the school's main course. Go over the menu with your child and discuss the nutritional value of what is being offered. Steer them away from soda and dessert and toward low fat milk and fresh fruit.
6. Get plenty of sleep. Make sure your child is getting an adequate amount of sleep at night to help aid in their overall health. Establishing the same bedtime each night helps them become familiar with a routine.
For more information on back to school health please visit http://www.cdc.gov/family/kids/