Back to School: Tips to keep your child healthy this year


Reporter - Robert Bradfield
Photojournalist - Justin Jones

Who actually enjoys a doctor’s visit? But what if a few simple checkups now could keep you from being sidelined with a cold, or even the flu, during the school year?

Here’s what you need to know before your child’s first day of school:

First, know what shots your child needs. Dallas Medical Dr. Jonathan Walters says vaccination requirements can vary by state or district. Not knowing could put your child behind.

“Most of the schools require them and without having them, they will delay you, you can get kicked out of classes.,” Dr. Walters said.

Dr. Walters also suggests an annual eye exam. He says if your child squints or has had trouble reading the board in class, make an appointment.

“Without the ability to read letters, some kids don't know what they should or should not be able to see. because nobody talks about this,” Dr. Walters said. “No one says this is what it should look like and no one knows what it looks like.”

Lourdes dietician Rita Bailey says what you pack for lunch can also make a big difference in your child’s health. She’s not a fan of Lunchables or pre-packaged meals. Bailey urges parents to even ditch the bottled sodas.

“Quick and easy is what we tend to do, whether it's a Lunchable or a bologna/cheese sandwich,” Bailey said. “Sometimes you get more fat and salt than anything. So we encourage more fruits and vegetables.”

Even treating your teeth can do wonders, says Dr. Walters. Brushing your teeth, gums and tongue twice per day reduced the risk of infection. He says parents should schedule a dentist appointment at least once per year.

Some school districts have a back-to-school health fair, and many are free for parents. Some medical offices can even schedule an appointment on the spot.