Navigating your child’s health is a challenge. How do you know the severity of something? How do you determine what’s a small cold vs. something major? As a parent, you often know your child best. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to others for support. In the time of COVID-19, knowing what to do when health issues arise is important.
Here are a few concerns to watch out for, especially if you’re a new parent:
Changes in Appetite
While shifts in appetite aren’t always a trigger for something bigger, it’s important to watch out for abrupt shifts in your child’s eating habits, as they can sometimes point to something more serious. If your child has suddenly started to eat more than usual, this is often the sign of a growth spurt – nothing to worry about! If your child’s appetite has decreased, try integrating some foods you know he or she will eat to determine if there’s pickiness involved, or something bigger.
If you notice severe abdominal pain, fluctuations in weight, decrease in energy, or vomiting, contact your doctor.
Eyesight is something that can often go undetected by parents, especially if there haven’t been any concerns in the classroom or at home. Make sure your child is getting a routine eye exam to assess his or her vision and see if any glasses or corrective lenses are needed. It may also be helpful to talk with your child’s teachers to see if he/she has had any issues seeing the board in class, reading, or keeping up with peers.
Sometimes your child will struggle with reading or seeing but not know how to articulate the problem. If you suspect a vision problem, you can ask your child to read something at a distance or up close. While this isn’t a diagnosis, of course, it can help you understand where and with what your child is struggling so you know what steps to take next!
Persistent Coughing & Sneezing
One of the biggest health issues you’ll find in children is that they tend to be more susceptible to the common cold than any other age group. There are some preventative measures you can take to help your child healthy: washing hands, taking vitamins, getting a flu shot (if you agree with it), etc. However, these aren’t foolproof measures.
If you notice that your child has a persistent cough or ongoing sneezing, you may want to see if there’s something more going on. Sometimes children have undetected allergies that present themselves like colds. Many cold symptoms are similar to allergy symptoms, so it’s helpful to talk to your pediatrician and see if it would be beneficial to get your child tested for allergies. You may find that the ongoing “cold” he/she has had is actually something else!
Cavities & Gum Issues
Having a healthy mouth is important, but what many parents forget is that there is more to teeth/gum health than brushing. It’s about how you brush, too. Some children will be heavy-handed with their toothbrushes, pressing too hard against their gums. Take time to teach your child how to brush his/her teeth. Show them a strategy for going in circles to reach all the teeth and not press too hard on the gums. It might be helpful to purchase an electric toothbrush for this reason — it helps attack hard-to-reach areas without the pressure.
(PS: Here’s an electric toothbrush set for the whole family!)
Raising Happy, Healthy Kids
Everyone knows that healthy kids are happy kids. And happy kids mean happy parents! If you’re a new parent, you’re navigating a terrain of craziness! Before you stress about your child’s every bump, cough, or ache, remember that there are some things you have to worry about and some things you don’t. You’re your own best judge (and you know more than you think).
As you navigate through your child’s health issues, just be sure to be patient with yourself.
Featured Image Credit: TONL