Babies are going to baby. So when you get a newborn home from the hospital, expect your baby to do typical baby things, and nothing more. They are not going to come up with the unified theory of everything within their first 24hrs of coming home from the hospital. That takes a few weeks. Their foray into quantum physics will have to wait. What you can expect is a lot of crying, eating, sleeping, and pooping, not necessarily in that order, or maybe all at once. For the first little while, that is your baby’s entire career.
Even so, habits are formed almost immediately. Many of the habits and preferences you have right now started well before you had language. These pre-language habits cover everything from food preferences to your favorite music. During that time, you probably got used to a lot of things that were not overly healthy. We start to develop a tolerance for our environment immediately. We are highly adaptable creatures. So it behooves new parents to start in on the good habits from the very first moments. That also means diminishing the bad habits. Since you want health to be a priority in your child’s life, here are a few healthy habits you can start on very early in their life:
Healthy Oral Care
The British Dental Journal lambasted the Early Years Review for omitting oral health. The first 1,001 days of a life are critical. Many issues go undetected during that period and go on to haunt a person for the rest of their life. Some of these issues are critical. Baby teeth are often ignored because they will just fall out and be replaced later anyway. But that is exactly the kind of thinking that creates long term oral health problems.
Thumb sucking is a seemingly innocent habit that parents often ignore because they are not aware of the potential long term effects. By learning how to stop thumb sucking, they will gain an important tool that can greatly reduce the risk of certain oral deformities. Thumb sucking is quite natural and common to all babies. But in this case, natural does not mean healthy. It is time to start putting on the breaks at around 3. If the habit continues past 6, you could have a problem that will require medical intervention due to oral deformity. By emphasizing good oral habits early, your child will have an easier time maintaining them down the road.
Don’t wait until your child is in school to implement a healthy diet. We tend to think of a diet as a set of special eating limitations and restrictions for the purpose of losing weight and other health concerns. That definition is precisely why diets don’t work. You don’t go on a diet; you are on a diet. Your diet is anything you eat. You can choose to eat wisely or foolishly. You can make the conscious decision to have a better diet. What is hard to do is change poor eating habits you developed just after birth.
As the mother of a newborn, you are the sole arbiter of what goes into your baby’s diet. It is one of the most important decisions you will ever make for your child. You have the power to help them develop a taste for healthy items. In the beginning, the baby tells you when it is time to eat. But as things progress, that role has to reverse. Start them out with healthy eating habits and it can last a lifetime.
Exercise is a little like diet. It is less about a special set of movements and more about developing the habit of healthy movement. If your child sleeps all day or sits in front of the TV instead of having active play time, it does not bode well for their long term health. What they need is to get into the habit of healthy movement everyday. One of the best weapons against future obesity issues is healthy movement from the time your child can move.
It is always harder to correct problems after the fact. Eliminate the worst of them by focusing early on your child’s oral health, dietary health, and movement health. When they are strong and fit in their 50s, they will have you to thank.