Ways You Are Unknowingly Harming Your Child's Health
We all want only the best for our kids, but could you actually be harming your child's health and safety without even realising it? Learn how to make the necessary changes today, for your family's well-being.
As a parent, you want to do what’s best for your child and keep them out of harm’s way – but what if you are actually unknowingly compromising your child’s health and safety by doing certain things which seem pretty innocent?
Just by making a few changes to your daily routine or normal habits, you can improve your child’s well-being and no longer put them at risk for hidden dangers.
Food poisoning in the fridge
If you or your kids have had an upset tummy before, you might have brushed it off thinking it was caused by some bad rojak you ate for lunch at a hawker centre – but did you know that it is also important for you to make sure that the food inside your fridge is safe?
Never store cans or metal in the fridge
If you’ve opened up a new can of condensed milk to add to your Milo, or perhaps a can of olives you want to include in your family’s pasta dinner, do not place the can into the fridge as the metal may actually transfer to the contents!
Keep your fridge clean
Clean your fridge every week or every two weeks and wipe up any spills immediately to prevent cross-contamination.
Throw out expired food
Always check the expiry date of your food before you consume it, especially when you know it has been sitting in storage for quite some time – and if in doubt, throw it out!
Health risks: Food poisoning.
Exposure to adult content
Besides ensuring the physical safety of our children, we should also do our best to preserve their emotional health and be aware of what your kids are exposed to online or watch on tv.
Studies have shown that exposure to age-inappropriate material may cause lasting effects on children, including triggering unnecessary fear and insecurities.
If you are concerned about what your children are exposed to in the media, you can
- Preview TV shows and movies to make sure they are appropriate
- Only allow your kids to watch TV or use the internet in the common room where you can keep an eye on them
- Turn on the child safety features on your mobile devices
- Teach your children about internet safety and cyber-wellness
- Set privacy settings for your home’s WiFi connection
Health risks: Increased aggression or destructive behaviour, desensitisation, stubbornness or disobedience, re-enacting of dangerous stunts.
You’ve watched the advertisements on television and you’ve seen the print-ads up at various bus stops around Singapore, but you probably think that “it can never happen to me”, however the National Environment Agency (NEA) has reported that dengue is on the rise in Singapore.
Just last year, there were 377 dengue cases reported in just one week, making it the highest weekly total for the year, and as result, four people have died from dengue fever.
Dengue fever is an illness that causes the body to bleed easily and may also affect other organ systems, which is caused by the dengue virus that is carried and spread by Aedes mosquitoes.
To help prevent the spread of dengue fever, you should frequently check or get rid of any stagnant water around your house by:
- Change water in vases or bowls (including pet water containers) on alternate days
- Remove stagnant water from flowerpot plates on alternate days
- Turn over all water storage containers
- Cover bamboo pole holders (for laundry) when not in use
- Cover toilet bowls and floor traps when away from home for a few or more days
- Clear blockages in roof gutters and put BTI insecticide monthly
Health risks: Dengue fever, death.
Sometimes it’s tough knowing what your child wants to eat for dinner, especially after you have slaved away in the kitchen for hours to whip up a delicious meal, only to have it rejected when you present it to him – so you cave and allow him to munch on potato chips instead.
It may be difficult (although not impossible) to completely avoid junk food in your family’s life, but it is actually ok to indulge in some chocolate, candy or a greasy burger every now and then, as long as it is not the main part of your diet.
However studies have shown that soda (or soft drinks) has been linked to behavioural problems in teens and young children, such as aggression, fighting, feeling sad, sense of hopelessness, and even being suicidal.
It is best that your kids avoid these carbonated sugary drinks and stick to other healthier choices such as:
- Plain water
- Fresh fruit juice
- Pure coconut water
- Fresh vegetable smoothies
Health risks: Obesity, tooth decay, behavioural problems, mood-related problems.
Second-hand and third-hand smoking
Living in the city, we are constantly exposed to smoke from cars, factories and other forms of air pollution, but if you are a smoker or someone else in your house smokes, the Health Promotion Board warns that your children may be suffering.
Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 different chemicals, 400 of which are actually poisonous, and there is evidence that children and babies are particularly susceptible to the health effects of being exposed to it.
Even if you think you have tried to avoid getting your kids into contact with your cigarette smoke, third-hand smoking is another additional danger as residual particles from cigarettes remain in the environment even after your cigarette has been extinguished.
These harmful particles will linger on a smoker’s hair, skin, clothing, and in your house on the carpets, curtains, rugs, floors and windows, which your child will then come into contact with.
Health risks: Colds, eye and nose irritations, reduced lung growth and function, coughs, wheezing, asthma, ear and chest infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Drying wet laundry indoors
Most families in Singapore live in HDB flats or high-rise apartments where space constraints may make it a bit of a problem when it comes to hanging out your laundry to dry, so you may resort to draping your damp wash of the day on clothes racks indoors, perhaps in the living room or even the bedroom.
But a study has found that by hanging a fresh load of laundry in rooms with poor ventilation or closed windows can cause more moisture in the air which creates ideal breeding conditions for mould spores and dust mites.
Health risks: Asthma, hay fever and other allergies.
Exposure to harmful UV rays
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just a few serious sunburns is enough to increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later on in life and it is highly recommended that they get some protection from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun whenever they are outdoors.
Avoid the midday sun
It is best to avoid any outdoor activities during the midday, because this is when UV rays are strongest and most harmful.
Seek the shade
When you are participating in activities outdoors, try to seek for shade under a tree, by using an umbrella, or a pop-up tent.
Long-sleeved shirts and long pants or skirts made from tightly woven fabrics can provide the best protection from UV rays, and darker colours may offer more protection than lighter colours.
Wear a hat
Although wearing caps is usually the more popular (and fashionable) choice, they don’t protect your kids’ ears and neck, so it is better to opt for hats with brims that can shade the head, face, ears, and neck.
This is not just a cool fashion statement, but a good pair of sunglasses can protect your child’s eyes from harmful UV rays, so as to prevent cataracts later in life.
Apply lots of sunscreen
Every time your little ones want to go out and play, help them to generously apply some sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB protection, around 30 minutes beforehand.
Health risks: Skin cancer, cataracts.
Now that you know about the hidden dangers around your house and how you are unknowingly harming your child’s health, it is not too late to make a few simple changes for his well-being.
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