Many parents who are heading into the new year may be looking to make their children's health their top priority. We sat down with Nazatul Amira Hamzah from Primabumi Sdn Bhd\u00a0to learn more about the various aspects of a child\u2019s health so that parents will know better about how to take better care of them. Nazatul is a qualified pharmacist with 10 years of experience in pharmacy practice involving both hospital and community settings. Nazatul Amira Hamzah, Pharmacist at Primabumi Sdn Bhd She currently holds the position of Pharmacist and Key Account Manager at a renowned pharmaceutical company in Kuala Lumpur. When asked about what parents can do to take better care of their children\u2019s health, Nazatul mentions ten aspects that every parents can look into to determine. She recommends parents to perform a simple yet comprehensive assessment on the most important elements of your children\u2019s health. Aside from that Nazatul also encourages parents to do the assessment on themselves as well, so that the entire family stays healthy all year round. Here are the 10 aspects of a children\u2019s health that every parent must look into, according to a pharmacist. 10 Aspects of Children's Health That Parents Need to Know Physical Growth One of the ways a parent can assess their children's health is by measuring their physical growth. Things like height, weight, muscle mass and body size will tell you if they are hitting all their milestones at the right age and time. If your child has not in fact reached these milestones, then it\u2019s probably a good idea to find out why. According to Nazatul, 'apart from genetic predisposition, nutrition plays a vital role in your child\u2019s physical development'. She urges parents to ensure their child\u2019s diet contains all the nutrients they need to grow healthy. But if they are eating well, there could be other issues preventing them from reaching their growth milestones. So if this is the case, it is best to refer to a doctor. Immunity A child\u2019s immune system is constantly developing. So, it\u2019s normal if they get the cold or the flu every so often (8 to 12 times per year is considered normal). Getting sick actually helps train their immune system to better fight off more dangerous diseases later if they\u2019re exposed to new viruses when they\u2019re older. A good way to test if your child\u2019s immune system is working well is to see ask yourself these questions: \tHow many times did your child fall sick last year? \tDoes the number seem alarming? \tWere the illnesses so severe to the extent that they had to skip school or even be admitted to hospital? According to Nazatul, 'getting sick easily and frequently may indicate a low immune level or an underlying condition'. Some reasons, she says, that contribute to a weak immune system can include: poor nutrition, poor hygiene, sleep issues, and not getting enough exercise. So parents, be sure to discuss with your child\u2019s paediatrician to find the exact cause if needed. It is also a good idea to maintain a record of new allergies that may be popping up for your kids, particularly to certain medications or food. Gut Health Many parents may underestimate the importance of the gut for overall health. This goes back to the topic of nutrition which directly impacts gastrointestinal wellbeing. A good way to find out if their gut is healthy is to see if your child has established a healthy eating habit. This can include the number of meals, the time between meals, and the size of each meal. Diet variety is also another indication. They should ideally eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, drink plenty of water and avoid unhealthy junk foods. Ask your child about their bowel movements, which is always the first place to assess gut health. If they are having trouble then it may be because they have not fulfilled the above requirements. 'Not only do you have to ensure your child eats enough, you should also pay attention to the type of foods and drinks they consume and the time at which they take them', says Nazatul. She reminds parents that to prevent bowel problems and other gut-related health issues in your child, a healthy and balanced diet is paramount. Oral Health Another often overlooked area in children's health is oral or dental health. It\u2019s important to always check your child\u2019s teeth for issues and be alert of any complaints they may have. Aside from checking whether your child has grown the right number of teeth for their age, Nazatul also pinpoints the importance of inspecting their gum as well. A red flag is often bleeding gums when brushing the teeth which could be caused by scurvy or an unsuitable toothbrush. According to Nazatul, 'strong teeth and healthy gums means your child gets enough calcium and other essential nutrients to grow healthy bones, blood vessels, soft tissues and muscles'. Parents should promote good oral hygiene early on while their child is still young, to ensure healthy teeth and gums for years to come. Sleeping Pattern Adequate sleep and good health go hand in hand. And unfortunately, some children do not get the required duration they need. Sleep helps the body to repair itself and is important for the maintenance of various biological processes including growth. So the first thing you should figure out is whether your child fulfils the required number of hours of sleep per day. Their sleep timing should also match their age and daily activities. These are all important points to help you determine whether your child has issues with their sleep quality. According to Nazatul, 'low quality or inadequate sleep suppresses the functions of growth hormone, thus stunting your child\u2019s growth'. Not only that, sleep is also responsible for promoting a child\u2019s emotional regulation. A baby needs around 12 to 16 hours of sleep. As they get older, they will require less and les sleep, typically between 9 to 12 hours. This sleep duration is typically common among 6- to 12-year-olds. Nazatul urges parents to ensure that their child goes to bed on time as well as get enough sleep each night. This is crucial in helping them maintain good health. Eyesight It is rare to see a child with vision problems, but it happens. Another health aspect that parents should observe is eyesight. A few ways to know if they are having trouble in this area is to ask your self these questions: \tCan your child see and read properly from a reasonable distance without any visual aids? \tDid you notice if your child had to hold an object (like a book) closer to their face or if they moved closer to see more clearly? \tHow much time they spend per day looking at screens including smartphones, computers, and televisions? 'In this digital age, it\u2019s super easy for everyone, particularly children, to spend an excessive amount of time looking at smartphones, computers and other electronic devices', says Nazatul. She reminds parents that constant exposure to blue light emitted by devices can damage a child\u2019s retina. This may pose risks including dry eyes, eye strain, poor vision, and even sleeping problems. Physical Fitness On the list of things that are strongly equated with 'health', your child\u2019s physical fitness is another aspect that you need to pay attention to. This is usually the easiest as it is most obvious to an observing parent. The way to measure a child\u2019s physical fitness is by determining their stamina, energy and strength. Usually, an older child will undergo this at school during their physical education assessments. But you can also easily find out whether they enjoy physical activities at home and school through observation. This means playing, jumping, running, etc. There is an issue if your child is complaining of pain or tiredness when performing certain physical tasks. It\u2019s important then to ask what triggered such a complaint, and how regular it is. 'On top of good nutrition, being physically active helps your child build stronger bones and muscles and develop a healthy metabolism', says Nazatul. She recommends that every parent engage in enjoyable activities with their child. Not just as a means of promoting good fitness, but also as a way to spend quality family time together. Cognitive Development According to Nazatul, 'cognitive development refers to the development of mental processes that a child needs to think and reason'. When it comes to evaluating your child\u2019s cognitive development, several questions come to mind: are they learning and memorising well? Are they having trouble focusing during lessons? Are they able to understand new topics and perform cognitive tasks? Aside from that, your child\u2019s social skills also reveal clues about their mental development. Are they able to engage and socialise with others in a positive way? Nazatul says cognitive and physical health go hand in hand: a healthy body promotes a healthy mind. Ongoing Health Issues and Medications If your child is currently struggling from an existing or congenital disorder, then it\u2019s a no-brainer that that should be on your list as well. Are they coping well or not? Focus on the symptoms, the treatment and the side effects. Is your child\u2019s condition improving or getting worse? How often are you visiting your child\u2019s doctor? All of these questions must be answered as precisely as possible. 'Your child\u2019s health condition and medications must be regularly reviewed by a trained professional', says Nazatul. As your child's life evolves, adjustments to medical treatment may be necessary, making routine check-ins crucial for their wellbeing. Supplement Intake In ensuring your child's health, consider the dietary supplements you may have given them in the past year. This may include things like multivitamins, fish oil, calcium, and probiotics. Find out whether your child has significantly benefited from the regimen or experienced adverse effects instead. Nazatul advises, 'by actively monitoring your child\u2019s health and discussing it with an expert, you\u2019ll be able to tell if your child may benefit from taking a dietary supplement and which supplement is best suited to your child\u2019s needs'. Whether your child currently takes supplements or not, this proactive approach guides informed decisions for their wellbeing. Maintaining Your Children\u2019s Health It doesn\u2019t take much to raise healthy, happy children. A keen eye for observation is usually enough. With the pointers that Nazatul has given above, hopefully you will be a few steps closer to achieving your 2024 goal of promoting a healthier year for your children's health. 'If you find any issues or have any concerns on your child\u2019s health, please seek advice from your child\u2019s paediatrician or a relevant healthcare professional', says Nazatul. In the spirit of the new year, let us all take better care of our children\u2019s health as well as our own. May 2024 be a healthy and sick-free year for you and your family for the months to come! Source: Nazatul Amira Hamzah, Pharmacist at Primabumi Sdn Bhd Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice from Motherhood. For any health-related concerns, it is advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or medical practitioner. For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!