A healthy start starts here.

Seven Ways to Keep Kids Healthy

The state of Tennessee helps families promote and protect the health and well-being of children.

By taking advantage of the state’s many resources and programs, parents and caregivers can create a healthier future for all Tennessee children. Simple steps like encouraging physical activity and keeping youngsters up-to-date on immunizations will help put children on the path to a lifetime of good health.

Here are some ways you can help:

1. Keep kids and family members up-to-date on all immunizations every year. Not only do vaccines help prevent common illnesses, but they are mandatory when enrolling children in childcare facilities and schools. Also, making sure older siblings and adults in the family are up-to-date with vaccines, in particular the whooping cough vaccine, provides protection for babies. For a full list of recommended immunizations for children, click here. Learn about additional immunization steps to take here.

2. Make sure all family members get a flu shot every year. Stay healthy by protecting yourself and your children from the flu. Get the flu vaccine from your doctor, a pharmacy or your county health department. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, the flu can lead to pneumonia, heart attacks and other complications that put more than 200,000 people in the hospital nationwide each year, including about 20,000 children under 5. According to the Tennessee Immunization Program, it is not possible for the flu shot to give you or your kids the flu.

3. Encourage kids to be active for at least 60 minutes every day. Have them play a competitive sport, go for a hike, take the dog for a walk, go swimming, work in the yard or go on a family outing. Physical activity can help prevent health problems, such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes, and it’s a great way to bond as a family. For more ideas on how to stay active, click here. In addition, GetFitTN can help you track your child’s health and fitness to prevent the risk factors that can lead to serious illnesses later in life.

4. Have a well-balanced diet. Children have special nutritional needs. They rely on you to teach them healthy eating habits. Limit foods high in fat, salt or sugar, such as junk food or soda, and opt for healthier options. Have kids drink plenty of water and eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Get your kids involved and excited about healthy eating by having them pick out vegetables at the grocery store and help prepare a healthy meal. By eating family meals together, the whole family will eat better. Click here to learn additional ways good dietary habits can start at home.

5. Make sure children get regular checkups from their primary care provider. It’s important for children to have a primary care provider for regular wellness visits as they grow and develop. Through the TennCareKids program, checkups are free for Tennessee residents who are enrolled in TennCare from birth until 21. Learn more about TennCare and how to apply. CoverKids is another option that provides full health coverage for children 18 and under whose families cannot afford employer-sponsored insurance or individual insurance and who make too much to be eligible for TennCare. Before your child’s checkup, make note of their allergies to medicines or other health problems, and store your child’s health records in one place so you can find them easily.

6. Practice healthy habits to prevent illness or injury. Teach kids to wash their hands often, to cough or sneeze into the crook of their arm, and to get at least eight hours of sleep every night. In addition, when traveling, always make sure children wear their seat belt or are in a proper car seat.

7. Be a good listener and role model. Children need to know they are safe and that someone will take care of them. Encourage children to talk to a parent or a trusted adult if they are sad, nervous or scared. Learn more ways to help kids through a tough time. To avert an emergency, the state offers crisis services to promote the safety and emotional well-being of children.

Watch this video to learn more about Keeping Kids Healthy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Additional Resources

Learn some easy ways to become a healthier family. Small Starts for Families are simple, healthy actions you can turn into routine habits. Join other Tennesseans who are getting healthier in a few simple steps. Use the Small Starts for Families tool and get started now.

Search the kidcentral tn State Services Directory to find more state resources and programs available near you.