Scientists have discovered that the first three years of a child’s life can have a huge impact on their respiratory health. While new parents are likely to be vigilant over things like high temperatures, sharp corners, and choking hazards, you may not have given much thought to the pollutants and other factors that could affect this important area of your child’s well-being. The good news is that there is plenty you can do to protect your family’s respiratory health. From building strong, robust immune systems to avoiding harsh chemical cleaning products, the little changes can soon add up.
A breath of fresh air
The World Health Organization estimates that 93% of the world’s children breathe air that is so polluted it affects their health. If you’re picturing overcrowded cities and fuel-guzzling trucks, that’s certainly a large part of the problem, but your child can be affected just as easily at home as well. The Environmental Protection Agency states that people spend 90% of their time indoors, and that means your home’s air quality can have a much bigger impact on your child’s health than you may think.
Cleaning with natural products is a great place to start, since they won’t release harsh chemicals into the air. Even more effective is a well-maintained and clean AC unit, which means regularly replacing your air filters to ensure that dust, allergens, and other pollutants are removed before they reach your family’s lungs. Running AC without clean and properly functioning filters is not only poor for your health but also your budget. The system will use more energy to try and strain the air through a blocked or broken filter.
A hard-hitting habit
One of the most important things you can do to protect your whole family’s health is to stop smoking, or at least prevent it from happening indoors. The number of smokers in the U.S. has dropped significantly in recent years to just under 14% of adults, but it remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease. It can be difficult if older family members or friends are habitual smokers and want to visit your home and children, but most will understand if you ask them to smoke outside (at least).
Building brighter futures
In addition to keeping your home’s air clean and smoke-free, you can also help to protect your children by boosting their immune systems and general health. Providing a nutritious diet that’s rich in vitamins and minerals and ensuring that your child gets enough sleep is really important for all-around health. On top of this, exercise is key; government guidelines recommend 60 minutes of physical activity each day. This could be anything from dancing in the kitchen to playing tag in the park or walking to and from school with you. Not only are you building stronger, healthier lungs now, but you’ll also be setting your kids up with great habits for life.
Protecting your child’s respiratory health may not seem as obvious as some of the physical dangers that parents tend to think of, but it’s certainly crucial for their long term quality of life. Keeping your home as clean and toxin-free as possible is really important, as is ensuring that your child gets plenty of exercise and good nutrition. If you think your child is already experiencing difficulties — or if you yourself have asthma or other respiratory concerns — talk to your health professional about the best approach for your family.
For more great family tips, check out the other blogs on Cyber Parent.