Getting a healthy start to a new school year

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Summer vacation is fast coming to a close and many parents are checking off the back to school supply lists. However, your child's success depends on more than just having paper and number two pencils.

When it comes to health and back to school, the first thought for many parents are the vaccines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"Most schools have gotten to where they require the standard sets of immunizations," explained pediatrician Dr. Stephen Sanches. "Booster on diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, polio and MMR and varicella which is chicken pox."

Beyond immunizations, a healthy school year starts at home with a good night's sleep.

"We forget how important sleep is, especially for children recuperating from the day of processing the information they learned. You need that time to reset the brain," said Sanches.

Doctors recommend adults receive seven to eight hours of sleep.  However, Sanches says kids and even teens need nine to eleven.  Getting the right amount of rest can begin now by establishing a good schedule for your child before school begins.

Then, be sure to start the day right with a good breakfast.

"Your body, from the second it starts the day, is looking for sources of energy. If you don't provide the right start to the day, you won't be able to get yourself revving up and going for the rest of the day," said Sanches.

The doctor says breakfast is extremely important, but it doesn't have to be fancy.  Something like a bowl of whole wheat cereal and some fruit is perfect and provides your kids with the fuel they need to get going.  Also, make sure that your child's nutrition needs are met throughout the day.

Check the school lunch calendar.  If there is a day where lunch is not healthy or your child does not like the menu, pack a healthier alternative.

Finally, before the busy school schedule begins make sure your kid's annual checkup is done and let school officials know if your child has any medical needs.  Sanches also says that now is the time to make sure your child has all of the medication he or she may need.

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