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Diet & Nutrition Sparkling Stars

Teaching Kids Hygiene Habits to Last a Lifetime

When you teach your children hygiene tips at the right age, it will help them develop a sense of consistency and reflect in other areas of their lives too. Here’s how you can do it.

Have you noticed that for some people, washing their hands before a meal or keeping their fingernails clean comes naturally? Then there are those that need some reminding or coaxing and even some people who ignore and forget about these habits altogether. 

What sets these people apart is how and when they were taught about personal hygiene. It takes a lot of practice or/and a true understanding of the benefits of good hygiene for these habits to sink in. That’s why, starting young and teaching kids hygiene habits to last a lifetime becomes all the more important.

There are a few measures you can take in order to safeguard your little one’s health and safety. One of the best measures is to help them integrate personal hygienic habits into their daily routine.

Now, it can prove difficult to teach your kids the significance of hygiene but there are ways to make the process easy (and fun).

Some of those ways you can teach kids hygiene are listed below: 

Handwashing 101

Hand washing is the most basic, yet the most valuable and fundamental habit when it comes to personal hygiene. It helps protect not just you, but your entire family from germs. Hands should be washed before and after all meals, after being outside or handling mail, after touching your nose or mouth and after using the bathroom. Washing your hand might seem simple but you’ll be surprised to know that according to this study by FSIS, most of the people wash their hands wrong 97% of the time.

You can have a look at this article that accurately details the proper method of washing hands: Hand Washing: Clean Hands Save Lives 

If you prefer to watch a video instead on how to wash hands properly for 20 seconds, here’s the resource: 

20-Second Hand Washing – The Science behind it and why it WORKS

Pro tip: To make hand-washing into a lasting habit, you can try buying either sweet-scented soaps or let your kids choose for themselves. 

You First

Kids are, by nature, prone to imitating what their parents are doing (without ever discriminating between good or bad habits). 

To teach your kids how to remain hygienic, you need to become a role model yourself.

Try and improve your own habits in regards to health and fitness, and then try to channel the same core habits into your kids. Let them see you when you brush your teeth, trim your nails or wash your hands.

Make it Cool

Does your little one fancy singing jolly rhymes or maybe, dancing? How about both? 

Incorporating fun acts like singing, dancing, or role-playing (e.g you can be a germ and your kid can be commander safeguard) makes tedious tasks like bathing and washing hands a lot more cool and interesting for your kids. 

Don’t remember any bath-time songs from your own childhood? No worries. Just check out this short playlist after you’re done reading this article: Bath Time 

Make Them “Want” To Do It 

Forcing your kids to follow these steps or telling them they have to do it because you said so – may only work for so long. Pretty soon they’ll either forget or just do it when you’re around. The best way to make sure they continue to practice these good hygiene habits (even when they are alone or out of the house or all grown up) is to make them actually want to do it.

Here are two interesting ways to start:

  • Teach them the basic concepts of germs and diseases and why they should try to avoid them. This article lists some fun activities to make your child more knowledgeable and cautious regarding germs and diseases.
  • Make them understand the advantages of proper health, e.g more playtime, fewer sick days, more people wanting to be around them, etc. 

Make Cleanliness Sound Inviting 

Make cleanliness sound a bit more inviting to your kids through the usage of technical facilities like productivity and health apps, interactive music playlists for kids’ health, and reading relevant books. 

Ever heard of Talking Tom? 

It’s a great (and free) app for kids where they have to take detailed care of Tom (their talkative pet) by feeding him, clothing him, making him use the toilet, and even travel the whole world around and interact with other real-time “Toms” from around the globe. 

By taking care of their virtual pet, your child becomes conscious in regards to their own health, as well. 

Shape Bathing/Washing as Special Events 

What better way to teach “how to remain hygienic and clean” to younger kids than by making special occasions out of such menial tasks (so your children anticipate and look forward to such fun activities)? 

There’s lots you can do here. For instance, buying floating ducks, foamy and fragrant soaps, baby shampoos, flavored toothpaste, and other toys can make even the wearisome chores of personal hygiene sound a lot more fun to your kids. 

Repetition

When it comes to building habits, irregular practice doesn’t suffice. Constant practice is the key to building long-lasting and eternal hygienic habits. 

How to maintain a regular health schedule for your kid along with dozens of your other responsibilities? The answer to the prior question lies in setting timely reminders and notifications that let you know when bath time is approaching or a hair wash is due, etc. 

You can use an app to manage all that. One such app (freely available, of course) on playstore is “To Do List“. It’s a great tool that helps you track records from the minutest detail in your schedule like teeth brushing after dinnertime to even planning for events of the next month in advance. 

Shampooed hair twice a week? Check. 

Bath time for little Ananya at 4 PM? Check. 

Fancy the app already? 

Give it a try! 

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Nature and Animals Sparkling Stars

Fun Activities to Teach Kids about Recycling

We all know that our planet is in danger, but not all of us know that we can help. The good news is that if we start getting our children interested in recycling and composting at a young age, it will stick with them and become a habit. Then, we can have a whole generation of little people who know how to keep our planet healthy and happy.

Recycling projects for kids don’t have to be boring or like a task that they have to complete, whether they like it or not. With the right information and fun activities, children can develop a genuine interest and fondness for all things green. Here are some fun recycling activities for kids that will make them appreciate and understand how they can protect the environment.

Segregation Station

This is one of the most educational and fun recycling activities for toddlers as it gives them an understanding of what happens to our trash once it leaves our home. It also teaches them how to recognize biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste. You can first talk to them about what happens to the garbage we throw away. Kids love looking at the garbage truck but do they know what happens after the truck leaves? Explain how all our wet waste and some other kinds of waste (paper and biodegradable plastics) decomposes and is biodegradable but the other things (plastic, metal, glass, e-waste, etc.) don’t decompose naturally, which means they stay in the rubbish dump forever. These substances are non-biodegradable.

Materials needed

Let your kid collect all the rubbish the family generates over the course of a day. This will be food wrappers, packets, cardboard boxes, tins, leftover foods, fruit and vegetable peels, etc.

Activity

Label two bins or boxes or just create two piles titles ‘biodegradable’ and ‘non-biodegradable’. Help your child separate the rubbish into the two piles, while discussing which items can be recycled, re-used or composted. You can then look at the rubbish that cannot be reused, recycled or composted and figure out ways to reduce that particular pile.

Bottle Composting

Once children understand the term ‘biodegradable’, this activity is a really fun and clear way to demonstrate composting. Here’s how to make a compost bin for kids with basic supplies at home.

Materials needed

  • A plastic soft drink bottle
  • Some soil
  • A few leaves
  • Peels and scraps from fruits and vegetables
  • A water spray bottle

Activity

  • Remove the label and rinse the bottle. Cut the top off the bottle.
  • Put some soil into the bottom of the bottle, followed by food scraps. Repeat this layering cycle until the bottle is full but make sure that the last layer is soil.
  • Spray the bottle with water (just enough to make it damp but not completely wet).
  • Place your mini composer in a sunny spot.
  • When you notice that the soil on top dries out, spray with water to preserve a constant level of moisture.
  • After completing this composting activity for kids, watch the bottle carefully over the course of the next eight weeks and take photos. You will be able to see the food scraps decompose and turn to soil.

Reap what you Sow

Once you have created your own compost, this activity will demonstrate the superior quality of compost when it comes to growing your own food and plants. If you have completed the above ‘composting for kids’ activities, this will also complete food/compost life cycle for your kids.

Materials needed

  • 2 similar pots
  • Regular soil
  • Compost
  • Seeds of the same variety

Activity

  • Fill one pot with regular soil and the second pot with your compost. Label them accordingly.
  • Plant a seed in each pot (if you plant something edible then you’ll also be able to taste-test the produce to compare)
  • Place the pots next to one another in your balcony, terrace or in your garden.
  • Watch your plants grow and notice the difference between the two plants. You can see the size, rate of growth, the quantity and quality of produce.

Build a Bird Feeder

This is an excellent way to show your children how old items can be used to create something new and useful.

Materials needed

  • Citrus fruit peels
  • Knife
  • Twine
  • Plastic needle (or anything to pierce the peel with)
  • Scissors
  • Bird seeds

Activity

  • Cut the citrus fruit (mosambi or orange) in half. You can eat or squeeze it and remove the fruit from the peel.
  • Cut four 10-inch pieces of twine for each of the half peels. Then tie a knot at the end of each twine and thread your plastic needle.
  • Poke the needle through the side of the peel (a little below sides because if you poke too close to the edge, the weight of the bird will break the peel) and your feeder will fall. Do this on all four sides of each peel.
  • Tie the other end of the strings together in a knot so you can hang the feeder.
  • Hang this in your balcony or garden where birds can visit.

Here are more fun ways to teach children to respect and appreciate the environment :

1. Neighbourhood clean-up: Gear the kids (and yourselves) with gloves, masks and trash bags and head out to clean up a particular area. It can be the neighbourhood park or a section of the beach.

2. Candlelight dinner: Have a (safe) family candlelight dinner and talk about saving electricity and how it’s good to turn off appliances, lights and fans when not in use.

3. Movies and books: Pick books about recycling and composting and watch movies (like the Lorax, Over the Hedge, Wall-E, Free Willy or Avatar for older kids) with a green theme.

4. Crafting with recycled materials: Like the bird feeder we spoke about above, there are many useful things you can create with recycled materials. Keep a recycling bin for supplies and save pieces of old cloth, old paper rolls, bottle caps, bottles, egg cartons, etc. Look up DIY recycled crafts for kids which you can make with these items or let them use their imagination.

With these activities on recycling for kids, they learn to generate less waste, the correct way to separate it and even how we can put it to use, all so they can build a better, more sustainable world.


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Diet & Nutrition Sparkling Stars

How to Add Healthy Stuff to Your Fussy Eater’s Diet

It is said that children need to eat foods from all five healthy food groups, which also includes about 1-2 cups of fruit and 1-2 cups of vegetables a day. If you’re parenting a fussy eater – we know what you’re thinking when you hear advice like that – easier said than fed! Well, here are some smart ways to include fruits and veggies into your picky eater’s daily diet.

Fruits

Shakes and smoothies

To get your child used to smoothies or shakes, keep it really simple at first. Just blend their favorite fruit with some milk or yogurt. Then you can add another fruit and a veggie, some nuts and maybe some honey. Some vegetables can be easily disguised this way – like spinach in an apple-banana smoothie. Look for interesting recipes here.

Popsicles

When it comes to food ideas for fussy toddlers, this one has a high success rate. All you need are some popsicle moulds or even just ice cream sticks and an ice tray. You can puree naturally sweetened fruits with a bit of lime for some acidity and reduce the icy texture. Juices of fruits like oranges, mosambi, kiwi, watermelon, mango, grape, or apple work great. You can also try a combination of puree and juice. To add texture and make it visually appealing, add slices or tiny bits of fruits as well. Freeze them overnight or for about 6 hours.

Dips

Children love to dip stuff. Maybe because of the sensory experience or it makes them feel independent – whatever the reason, let’s use it to our advantage to create some healthy food for a picky eater. You can make a simple one with cream cheese, blended strawberry, fresh cream and brown sugar, or try any of these interesting dip recipes.

Custard

If your little one is old enough to have custard, then just add chopped (or blended) fruits and nuts. Fruits that are great for custard are banana, apple, grapes, pomegranate, papaya and mango. Avoid citrus fruits and melons.

Vegetables

Dosa Pizza

Try this the next time you make dosa. First sauté some vegetables like onion, capsicum and carrot in butter or ghee and add some rock salt and coriander leaves. After roasting the dosa (while it’s still on the pan), add the vegetables and grate some cheese on top. Fold the dosa or leave it open when you serve it.

Stick & Dip!

There’s that word again – dip. Only this time, it’s accompanied by vegetables! Serve sticks of carrot, cucumber or even celery with some interesting dips like homemade mayonnaise, guacamole, hummus or even flavored butter.

Soup

An easy way to get healthy food into your child is through soups. They are especially great foods for picky toddlers. Single veggies soups like spinach soup or broccoli soup are easy and nutritious. Combinations like apple and carrot soup work great as well.

A few extra tips…

We’re in this together

Take the children along when you shop for fruits and vegetables. Tell them how you check and pick the right produce. This helps them connect with what they are eating. Also, let them into the kitchen when you’re cooking and allow them to participate in safe tasks, like shelling peas, picking the curry leaves from the stem, etc.

In plain sight

Keep fresh fruits on hand and on display. Have a fruit bowl on your kitchen counter or dining table. Include some standard fruits like bananas and apples and also a few seasonal fruits.

Set an example

It’s no secret that children love to imitate. Let them see you eating (and enjoying) a fruit now and then.

It’s all about the presentation

Serve the food on colorful plates or arrange the food to look like animals or their favorite cartoon characters.

Covert mission

Some foods (like cauliflower or spinach) can be easily hidden into others. So if your child likes scrambled eggs (for example), just grate some steamed cauliflower into it. If there are certain dishes that are favorites in the house – pasta, sandwiches, or noodles, increase the number of vegetables that go into it. Remember that herbs are rich in antioxidants too – so add basil, oregano, or thyme to simple dishes to make them healthier.

Thinking up healthy foods for picky eaters can seem like a daunting task, but remember – if children adopt healthy eating habits at a young age, it will have a positive influence on their dietary habits later in life. It is important for children to have a balanced diet so along with vegetables and fruit, they need some grain foods, dairy, and protein.