5 to 12 years
Taking care of your body and staying fit and healthy is important at every age. Kids aged 5-12 are growing and learning all the time – starting healthy habits now can make a difference for the rest of their life.
There are lots of different ways to stay healthy – you probably already know about many of them!
From the age of 5 children should be eating a healthy balanced diet. They should be eating the same things, but they don’t need as much to eat as adults - their portion sizes should be smaller. It’s very difficult to say exactly how much – but there is some general advice from the NHS.
Involving kids in making food can be a good way to get them interested in trying new healthy foods and joining in at mealtimes. Search for “cooking with kids” for ideas – or have a look at these NHS or BBC pages.
Eating a healthy diet can help your child stay at a healthy weight – being overweight or obese is a big problem for children and adults. There are lots of little changes you can make to be more healthy, and the earlier you start the easier it is.
It’s important to make sure your child is drinking enough too – especially if it is warm or they are doing any exercise or activity. There is some good advice about hydration here.
Is your child a healthy weight?
Sometimes it can be hard to know – kids all grow at different rates. Your health visitor or school nurse might have taken measurements and be able to tell you or you can check for yourself with this BMI calculator - remember BMI for kids and adults is different, so make sure you are using the children’s BMI measure.
If your child is underweight or overweight this can affect their growth, development and self-esteem. Health Improvement have leaflets to help with fussy eating – get in touch if you need one. We can also provide support if a child is overweight – get in touch for more information about the SCOTT program. If you have any concerns you can also speak to your GP.
Oral health and nutrition is important for your child’s general health, development and wellbeing. Childsmile are trying to improve Oral health and access to dentists for children all across Scotland. The Dentist can tell you how often you should have appointments - normally at least once a year. It is important to make sure you are taking care of your child’s teeth in between. In Scotland NHS dental treatment is free up to the age of 17.
Children should try to get at least 1 hour of activity every day, and 3 times a week should do something to help strengthen bones and muscles – see our “exercise” page for more info.
As well as being active it is recommended that children keep on the go and aren't restrained or sitting for long periods. We don't have exact guidelines for how long is too long but it is a good idea to be active and moving around regularly in the day.
It is more and more common for children to spend time using computers, tablets, smart phones and watching TV. This can sometimes be good for learning, but usually means the child is spending less time being active.
The UK doesn't have any guidance on how much screentime kids should have, but Australia suggests that children under 2 should have no screentime, children aged 2-5 should have less than 1 hour, and children aged 5-18 should have less than 2 hours per day.
The internet can be great for learning and having fun – schools often use the internet, kids might look things up for homework, or play games online. It is a good idea to think about internet safety – make sure you know what your family is looking at and who they are talking to online. The CEOP’s page has information for kids - 5 to 7 years,8 to 10 years, 11 to 13years, 14+ years - and parents about staying safe online.
It’s not always easy being a kid – changes in the family, going to a new school, friendships, tests, growing up...there can be lots of things to think about. Sometimes this can be confusing or stressful. Looking after mental health and wellbeing can help kids cope and grow more confident in themselves.
Take a look at the new Wellbeing for Young Scots website,created by children and young people for children and young people.
Hands on Scotland has brilliant information and activities to help children and young people flourish and have positive mental health. They also have useful information and advice about troubling behaviours.
Having good mental health means being able to join in at school, try new activities, get on with family and friends, play on your own and with others and be confident and happy with yourself.
There is good information online from YoungMinds and the Mental Health Foundation or you could speak to your child’s teacher – often there are classroom programmes about mental health and wellbeing, resilience and making friends that they could help with.
Getting enough sleep is important to help kids grow and develop, and to give them the energy they need to work, play and concentrate all day.
How much sleep a child needs can vary, but here is a general guide based on their age.
Having a bedtime routine can help your child get good quality sleep, and should make bedtime easier.
Children will be taught about living, growing and relationships from an early age. It can be helpful to discuss these things at home as well. There is information for children and parents from the NHS or from Childline – helping your child find good information online might be a good way to start talking about things together at home.
Head lice or nits are most common in children, but they can affect anyone. Children are most at risk because they have close contact with others at school. Having head lice isn't due to dirty hair or poor hygiene - it can happen to anyone. Regularly checking your children's hair and treating any signs of head lice quickly can help stop them spreading. See the NHS advice on head lice here.