Most people don’t think about it, but a child’s health habits start with the parents. For this reason, children should start off on the right track to health as soon as possible, even on birthday celebrations where cake and ice cream are staples. While there’s no harm in letting children indulge on their birthdays, infancy is the time to create healthy habits for a lifetime.
So what can you do for your child’s first birthday to encourage health? Check out these 5 tips for a fun but healthy first birthday.
5 tips to improve your baby’s health on his/her first birthday
- Skip the cake: The first birthday cake is often more for the parents and guests than it is for the child. Taking pictures with a first birthday cake can be important to moms and dads, and the inevitable mess that follows by allowing a baby access to the cake is fun for everyone. But, when it comes to a baby’s first birthday, the truth is the child isn’t going to care if there is cake or not; at this point in life the fun is in the mess and texture of the food. Cake is irrelevant and can easily be replaced with something healthier. Parents that want to keep the cake mentality can make a healthier one for baby out of angel food cake and fat-free whipped cream.
- Ask for learning gifts: As a parent with an infant, there’s no harm in politely asking guests who wish to bring gifts to look for a certain type. Children celebrating their first birthdays should be given toys designed for learning or practical items like clothes. Gifts don’t need to be elaborate either; books are perfect for children at this age, and many are designed to encourage interaction between parents and baby. The more learning tools a child has access to, the greater advantage he or she will have later on in school.
- Make the birthday about the parents: This may sound selfish, but there’s nothing wrong with making a child’s first birthday focused on things the parents need for the health of their baby, rather than toys for the child. This means guests bring presents like healthy living books, essential oil kits, relaxation tapes, and any other items that might help the parents live healthier for their baby. This is a great opportunity to try out organic baby products or items that might otherwise be too expensive for new parents.
- Have the celebration outside: Being outside not only provides all party-goers with sunshine and subsequently vitamin D, having a child’s birthday outside can start an annual ritual that encourages outdoor play and exercise. Studies from Harvard University also suggest being outside improves mood and helps children with learning or behavioral disorders focus. Individuals who spend time outside also experience the benefit of improved healing time.
- Invite other children: Social skills are important for children to learn, and it’s never too early to start them learning proper manners. Even though it may seem like family is the only group needed at a first birthday, interacting with other children is important. The Baby Center indicates that children go through their possessive stage between the ages of 1 and 2, and this is why it is important for social interactions to occur early. Properly socialized children should be able to play with others, on their own, by the age of 2.
Regardless of whether or not you follow the above tips for your baby’s health, remember that parents are responsible for their children’s health choices for the first years of their lives. Instilling desirable health habits starts with the decisions parents make during the first years of a child’s life, and children who know only healthy habits will be more likely to continue those habits throughout life.