Helping your kids make safe, healthy choices isn’t as simple as it used to be. With busy schedules and added stress, it can be tricky to keep your family on track. With these seven tips, however, you can take control over your family’s health to keep everyone happy and safe.

Stock healthy foods in the house

Obesity is a serious epidemic in America, impacting adults and children alike. Help your kids make healthy choices by keeping your pantry and fridge stocked with healthy options for snacks and quick meals. Look at nutritional labels when shopping for groceries, and be on the lookout for sneaky added sugars. Teaching your kids to eat healthy now will help them make better food decisions later on.

Make meal prep a family activity

If your schedule is packed like it is for most parents, cooking meals at home can be a major challenge. One of the best ways to stay healthy while maintaining a busy schedule is to do a little meal prep on Sunday nights. Get your kids set up in the kitchen, and have them help you put together ingredients and label each meal or snack. While they’re there, talk to them about kitchen safety and how to handle food properly.

Keep danger out of little hands

One of the most prevalent threats to children are the “grown-up” items that are left unsecured around the home. Alcohol, medications, and weapons can be deadly when they wind up in the hands of children. Keep these items secure and your kids safe by keeping them in spaces they cannot reach. Consider using a child-safety lock on cabinets that house alcohol or chemicals, and always keep guns and knives locked up when children are present in the house.

Discuss a family safety plan

Would your family know what to do in an emergency? The thought of a fire or other dangerous situation can be stressful for parents and children, but it’s important to take some time to put together a plan for your family to stay safe in various kinds of emergencies. Keep a few essential supplies stocked, and keep a list of emergency contacts handy. When your child is old enough to use the phone, teach them how to dial 9-1-1 and request help during an emergency.

Create comfort and calm in your home

School and work can be stressful. It’s important to have a place to escape at the end of each day, so make your home a stress-free zone. Keep your rooms tidy and get rid of clutter that can cause additional stress. Use calming colors in decor, and teach your children to stay mindful and leave their stress at the front door. Think about getting the family into journaling or meditation, and make that the first activity you complete when you get home after school or work.

Find exercise that’s fun for the entire family

If you want your family to stay healthy, you have to find ways to get them to stay active. Aside from being a good stress reliever, exercise is essential in preventing illness, obesity, and other health problems. Find ways to stay fit as a family that don’t feel like working out. Play a game of volleyball, or go goof around together on the playground. If you feel up to it, you can even get started in a team sport together. Studies show that kids who exercise and play sports are more likely to stay active as adults.

Maintain a regular schedule

It may be tempting to let kids stay up until midnight on the weekends, but it isn’t good for their overall health. Maintaining a regular routine is the best way to encourage good sleep hygiene and keep minds sharp, so figure out how much sleep your kids need, and then work an appropriate bedtime into their weekly schedule. Encouraging good bedtime habits will help keep them healthy now and for years to come.

Help your little ones stay healthy for life

We all want our families to be healthy and safe, but we don’t always know how to make that happen. With these tips, you can keep your kids safe and encourage them to develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

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You want your home to be a place of rest and relaxation for the whole family, but any room in the home can be risky if you aren’t careful, especially if you have children. With thoughtful steps, you can prevent injuries and accidents, and know you’re keeping your family safe.

Children explore

Children are curious. It’s how they learn about the world, and according to Psychology Today, it’s a vital part of their development. Exploring the home and experimenting with the various objects in it, even in spite of parental protests, is normal and healthy behavior. When a child opens a forbidden cupboard for the eighth time after being scolded, or grabs a handful of books and pulls them off a shelf, it’s not because they’re trying to be disobedient, and it’s not due to poor parenting. Children simply are excited about exploring, and everything they see is wondrous and interesting to them. Because of this, it’s your role as a parent to take steps to reduce risks in the home, yet still encourage their desire to learn and explore. When your child is older, the limits and instruction you provide now will be the foundation for your child’s judgment and self-control.

Childproof the house

The first step toward creating a healthy and safe environment for your child to grow and learn in is to childproof the house. Anything within reach that is questionable should be removed. For instance, the potted plant and the glass-topped coffee table it sits on are both hazards. The plant should be moved to a place your child can’t reach or an inaccessible room, and the coffee table should either be replaced or stored until your child is older. If you don’t have sufficient space to store risky items, consider donating or selling them. It’s not worth your child’s safety to hang onto items that are hazardous.

Reinforce limits

Another important step toward reducing risk is to reinforce limits. Even when you remove items that are clearly dangerous, your child may find ways to turn items that seem safe into risks. When your child is reaching for a forbidden item, scold in a strong tone and use a simple word, such as, “No!” Reinforce that instruction by picking your child up, physically stopping your child from his or her pursuit.

Explain your reasons

Sometimes, giving your child a reason for not handling something is sufficient to end the behavior. For instance, if your child is reaching for a hot tray of cookies, you can explain that the tray is hot and your child will be burned.

Use boundaries

Physical boundaries, such as child gates, locked cabinets, and secured doors, offer a simple solution to controlling unwanted explorations. Sometimes, a carefully-placed piece of furniture can even inhibit a child’s inappropriate activity.

Your child does need places to explore as part of their development, so find ways to encourage explorations that are safe. For instance, if your child is trying to climb on a shelving unit, explain that they are not making a safe choice, and then provide something to climb on that is safe, such as a stack of cushions.

Assessing your home

It’s important to make a detailed assessment of your entire home for safety risks. Here are some major items of concern:

  • Some professionals suggest batteries should be safely stored out of reach and secured.
  • Lock up sharp objects, such as razors, box cutters and knives.
  • Liquid laundry packets, medications, and other poisons should be out of reach and secured.
  • Locking dishwashers and installing child-proof cabinet locks in bathrooms and kitchens is a simple step advised by some experts.

If you feel overwhelmed by the many items your child could turn into hazards, Kids Health offers handy room-by-room safety checklists.

Safety first

We all want to feel relaxed and secure at home. Ensuring your child’s safety by taking steps to reduce risks should be your top priority. With appropriate measures in place, your home can be a healthy, safe environment for your child to grow in and explore.

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