Parental Guide to Improve Your Childs Bone Health

By Prof. (Dr.) Pradeep B. Bhosale in Institute for Bone, Joint Replacement, Orthopaedics Spine and Sports Medicine

Apr 24 , 2023 | 3 min read

Health and wellbeing of children is undoubtedly the primary concern of parents. But, one aspect that is often overlooked, yet remains crucial for their growth and development, is bone health. Strong bones are essential for children to lead active and healthy lives, and its never too early to start taking care of them.

Formative years of children are the most important for building up bone stock and ingraining correct tone and posture habits. Poor bone health can lead to a significant amount of disability and social un-acceptance.

In this blog, we will explore the importance of bone health for children, the role of nutrition, physical activity, and other factors, and provide practical tips for parents to ensure their childrens bones are developing properly

Guide to Your Childs Bones

It is important for parents to prioritize regular pediatric orthopedic evaluations for their children during key stages of development. This includes an evaluation of motor milestones during infancy, a gait cycle assessment in the toddler years, and annual check-ups during early childhood and late preteen years. These evaluations are crucial in ensuring proper bone development and identifying any potential issues early on

The foundation of a childs strong bones begins during pregnancy. This is achieved through a balanced diet rich in calcium and protein, supplemented by medical advice, and daily walks. As parents, its important to start promoting good bone health from the very beginning to set the stage for a lifetime of strong and healthy bones

Bone Problems in Children

  • Rickets: A condition caused by a lack of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Growing Pains: A group of metabolic disorders that cause discomfort in growing children.
  • Fractures: Breaks in the bone caused by physical trauma.
  • Pulled elbow: A minor injury that occurs when the arm is suddenly pulled or twisted.
  • Obesity: Excessive weight that puts additional stress on the bones and increases the risk of fractures.
  • Gait Deviations: Abnormalities in the way a child walks or runs, can affect the bones and lead to other issues.

Recognizing Bone Issues in Children

The following are the key indicators of poor bone health:

  • Delayed achievement of motor milestones
  • Progressive deformities
  • Frequent falls, aches, fatigue, and muscle cramps

Similarly, the following are the characteristics of stronger bones:

  • Active play for over an hour
  • Well-balanced diet and hydration
  • Consistent growth

By keeping an eye out for these key indicators, parents can ensure their childs bones are developing and functioning properly.

Child Bone Care Tips by Age

  • 3 months to 12 months: Encourage to play ball games, crawling, sitting, standing, and supervised activities such as splashing in the baby pool.
  • 1 year to 3 years: Allow light jumping, running under supervision, and engage in activities like staircase climbing, racing, and playing in sand and water. Also, limit junk food, and avoid adding extra butter, cheese, and sugar to their diet. Ensure they get 15 minutes of sunlight exposure, either in the late morning or early evening.
  • 3 years to 13 years: Encourage higher-impact sports such as swimming and dancing, and continue with adequate sunlight exposure. Avoid keeping children indoors for long periods, such as in malls and theaters, to prevent them from becoming sedentary or addicted to technology. Encourage at least 1-2 hours of outdoor activity daily.

Child Diet Recommendations

  • Starting from 4 months, gradually introduce semi-liquid porridges made with ingredients such as ragi (nachni), wheat, bananas, dals, etc., into the diet until they reach 1 year of age.
  • Include 2 glasses of milk, 1 serving of curds and buttermilk with each meal, and a portion of cows milk cheese and paneer. Offer millets, jaggery, dates, eggs, and soya to their diet.
  • Incorporate nuts and dried fruits, fish and chicken, bananas, figs, papaya, greens, and beans in their meals.

Taking care of your childs bone health is crucial to ensure their overall health and well-being. Sports can play a significant role in this process. Engaging in physical activity through sports can help tone their muscles, build strength, and improve their stamina. Additionally, sports can provide the necessary stimulus for their bones to grow and absorb the calcium and minerals they need from the bloodstream.

In conclusion, encouraging your child to participate in sports is an excellent way to support their bone development. However, its important to remember that a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is also essential to maintain strong bones. By combining both physical activity and proper nutrition, parents can help their children develop healthy bones that will last a lifetime.

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