Another Christmas is nearly here! And if you’re anything like me, you still have some shopping left and you’re wondering what to get those ‘hard-to-shop-for’ people – the little ones in particular. Allow me to offer a few suggestions. Bear in mind that I’m writing from the perspective of a pediatrician who is concerned about the increasing incidence of overweight children in this country. So hopefully without being too boring for kids, here are some ideas based on things I have seen advertised.
Of course, one always needs to consider the age of the child and any medical issues the child may have when choosing a gift. A gift should be age-appropriate, and you should take notice of any small parts that might be a choking risk for a younger sibling. Ideally (at least for the gift ideas I’m going to talk about), the child will be encouraged and excited by something new, and will continue to be excited about it for months and years to come.
Choose Gifts That Promote Healthy Choices
The increasing trend in obesity in this country has two main components – a lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits. Both can be difficult challenges to overcome, but by making a series of small steps at a time, big things can happen further down the road.
One of the first things to do to become more active is to turn off the television set and get outside. Did you know that the Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should only have 1-2 hours a day of total ‘screen time?’ That includes TV, video games and computer time! I remember getting the magazine “Ranger Rick” when I was a kid, which was full of fun and interesting facts and ideas of things to do outdoors. Check out their website for more information. Your kids just might discover that there is a ton of cool stuff to do outdoors – any time of year!
For those kids who are interested in sports, encouraging them to participate and making it fun and challenging will help keep them interested. But even if they don’t like to do the traditional sports activities, just being active is good for their health. I recently came across a pedometer just for kids—GeoPalz. It keeps track of their steps and allows them to trade in their steps for fun prizes. The more active they are, the more prizes they get!
Being active is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, and making good choices about the foods we eat is another important part. “201 Healthy Smoothies & Juices for Kids” by Amy Roskelley is a great example of a book that provides ideas for healthy, great-tasting alternatives to some of the foods kids like to snack on these days. “Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook” by Howard Shooter and Nicola Graimes is another example of a cookbook full of healthy recipes that is specifically geared toward kids – so they can help make the food they eat!
Remember, it’s the little things we do on a daily basis that make the most difference. I hope this generates some new ideas for gifts this holiday season. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!