Caring for your child’s health involves all the information provided here about physical and emotional development and nurturing.
Here we have focused on some specific areas of physical development that require special attention including hearing, vision, teeth, and brain, as well as active living tips.
- regular check-ups with your doctor or public health nurse can ensure your child’s hearing and vision are developing properly.
- encourage the healthy development of your child’s brain through nurturing, movement, exploration, and play
- brush your preschooler’s teeth daily and schedule dental appointments
- ensure children have regular opportunities to exercise their large muscles such as running, climbing, jumping and swimming
- make sure your child receives prompt medical attention for serious illness
DID YOU KNOW?
HealthLinkBC provides 24-hour, confidential non-emergency health information and advice.
Registered nurses are available to speak to you 24-hours a day, pharmacists available from 5 p.m. - 9 a.m. every day and dietitians from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
You will be asked for your Personal Health Number, but you will not be denied service if you don't provide it. You can ask nurses any questions regarding health topics or procedures, identify symptoms and get help deciding when you need to see a health professional. Translation services are available.
Dial 8-1-1 from anywhere in B.C.
Deaf/Hearing Impaired: Dial 7-1-1
One great way you can keep your preschooler healthy is to encourage and model active living. By making regular physical activity a part of your day together, you are ensuring your child will continue this healthy habit for the rest of her life.
- preschoolers need regular opportunities to exercise their large muscles
- give your child the time and space to run, climb, jump, dance, and swim
- some preschoolers will be interested in team sports like soccer or t-ball, some may find a dance class more to their liking, and others may just want to spend the afternoon at a park
- follow your child’s cues when organizing physical activities
Your preschooler’s brain is still developing and will continue to grow rapidly until he enters school. You can influence the healthy development of his brain through nurturing actions, lots of play and exploration, and reading to him as often as you can.
PRINCIPLES OF BRAIN DEVELOPMENT
- the outside world shapes the brain’s wiring
- the outside world is experienced through the senses - seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting - enabling the brain to create or modify connections
- the brain operates on a “use it or lose it” principle
- relationships with other people early in life are the major source of development of the emotional and social parts of the brain
(Source: Canadian Institute of Child Health)
Hearing is very important to a child’s speech development and learning. Early identification of hearing difficulties is very important. See your doctor or public health nurse if you suspect your child may be having problems hearing.
Protect your child’s hearing
- make regular visits to your doctor or public health nurse
- observe your child’s ability to speak and respond to sounds in a variety of atmospheres
- seek prompt medical care for any ear infections or problems or childhood illnesses
- keep your child away from excessive noise
Encourage speech development
- talk and listen to your toddler
- singing and listening to music helps your child improve and refine their hearing
- read to your child as often as possible
Though baby teeth are eventually replaced by adult teeth, they are still very important. Early dental care ensures the health of your preschooler's gums and teeth and proper development of her jaw and speech.
- baby teeth should be brushed by and adult twice every day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
- your child’s first teeth help her to begin chewing solid foods, play a role in learning to speak, and help jaw development
- snacking is important for preschoolers but to avoid tooth decay limit sweet or sticky foods and save them for mealtimes
- offer water instead of fruit juices and other sweet drinks between meals
- your preschooler should have regular checkups with a dentist
Your preschooler should now be developing depth perception and improving hand-eye co-ordination.
Help your child develop healthy vision
- reading to your child helps her develop the visual skills she will need to begin reading on her own
- activities like painting, sorting shapes and assembling pieces like blocks or puzzles help develop healthy vision
- be selective about how much TV your preschooler watches
- prolonged viewing or viewing TV too closely can cause eye strain
- one in five preschoolers have vision disorders - make sure to schedule a full eye examination before your child starts school