Celebrate National Child Health Day
Oct. 5 is National Child Health Day, an observance that highlights the importance of children’s well-being. Advocating for the health and happiness of the youngest Oklahomans as they grow is central to our mission at the Oklahoma Alliance for Healthy Families. We recognize the critical role of parents, caretakers, teachers, medical professionals and so many others who work to improve the lives of children throughout our state.
Even as so many parents and professionals dedicate extraordinary efforts to our youth, there is still much work to be done. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2019 Kids Count Data Book, Oklahoma ranks 43rd in children’s health overall. Poverty, lack of health insurance and low immunization rates for children and adolescents are contributing factors. Helping one child at a time inspires the hope we hold for our community. Here are seven ways to make National Child Health Day matter in the life of a child you love:
Schedule your child’s next check-ups: Well child visits are a routine but essential part of family health. They are a great opportunity to ask your pediatrician questions, get immunizations against preventable disease and receive expert advice on age-appropriate metrics for growth and development. Make sure a six-month dental cleaning and annual optometry appointment are on your calendar too. Most preventive care appointments are covered by insurance or available on a sliding scale through the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH)
Make the most of your insurance plan’s other preventive care benefits: Other preventive care benefits may be fully covered by your insurance plan or Medicaid. Checking your insurer’s can be an easy way to know what options are available without charge or for a nominal fee. Seasonal vaccines like the flu and pneumonia vaccines, for example, may be covered at 100% if you are immunized at an in-network provider. Find out what other preventive services you should know about under your current policy.
Get active: Find a hobby to enjoy together that involves physical activity. Take a walk, go for a bicycle ride, swim together or play Frisbee outside. Make it a special time without distractions and that you can look forward to as part of family fun.
Make healthy food choices: Modeling healthy behaviors can help set your child up for success. Aim to eat dinner as a family at least three times each week. Choose a variety of foods and follow current recommendations to fill at least two-thirds of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Involve children in both the shopping and cooking process when they’re old enough to make choices and lend a hand. Explore a farmers’ market or the produce selection together. Children will be more likely to eat a healthy new food after choosing or preparing it. Remember to also stay hydrated and avoid sugary beverages like water and soda.
Reduce your risk of COVID-19: Taking care of children during a pandemic is challenging but prevention efforts can go a long in helping stop the spread of the coronavirus. Current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include frequent handwashing for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water, the use of hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable, using a mask when in public and social distancing. Avoid others who are not feeling well or show signs of illness like fever, congestion or malaise. Although the COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available, getting a flu shot can also help reduce your chances of respiratory complications during the season at which hospitals are already at capacity.
Take care of yourself: Parents are children’s first teachers. It is important to lead by example with self-care strategies, healthy coping mechanisms and adequate rest. Getting medical care when needed normalizes seeking help. Keep up with your annual physical and any specialist appointments needed. Check with your doctor about booster vaccines like pertussis and Hepatitis B that you may need; find more information here. Healthy habits influence children at all ages and stages. Taking care of yourself allows you to be the best parent you can for your child’s sake, both now and in the future.
Find more information about ways to stay healthy from the World Health Organization’s Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health.
You can also support Child Health Day in these three ways:
Share this blog post: Tag the Oklahoma Alliance for Healthy Families on social media (@OKHealthyFam) and let others know you support child health in Oklahoma.
Donate today in honor of Child Health Day: Help support local work to communicate the importance of promoting healthy communities and the importance of vaccines as a common denominator for public health.