Bringing up happy and healthy children


We hope you enjoyed our very first Boots Feel Good Forum on Real and Smooth Radio on Sunday night. If you missed it, don't worry - you can still listen to the best bits on the podcast. Our presenter (and mum of DS aged four) Kate Thornton was joined by expert panellists Supernanny Jo Frost and Dr Ellie Cannon to answer some MNers' questions on bringing up happy, healthy children. It was a great way to kick off the series, with some fantastic contributions on the Talk threads and a great discussion on air.

Here, we delve deeper into some of the topics discussed on the show, and give you some more info on the topics that got you talking.

We all want our children to grow up as healthily as possible. But just when you think you're finally getting it right, a new challenge rears its tousled head to show you who's boss. Whether it's a bad night's sleep, or a school report that doesn't quite tally with your little angel, we know it can sometimes be tough, so fear not we're here to help you out.

Healthy eating for kids

Something all our experts agree on is the importance of diet and good eating habits. And you do have some control over this – at least in theory!

Regular healthy meals are the Holy Grail, but children tend to have their own ideas. And as your child experiences growth spurts their eating habits can seem bewildering. Jo Frost recommends you "set good examples at meal times, if they can see their parents at the dinner table eating healthy then they will do the same".

A good tactic for avoiding the dinnertime stand-off is to let your child get involved in the kitchen. Once you've done all the difficult and potentially dangerous bits of the cooking, why not encourage the little one to sprinkle on their own cheese or add the tomatoes themselves, for example.

A healthy balanced diet is vital for growing children, as Boots nutritionist Vicky Pennington describes: "It's never too late to focus on eating well and learning more about food. Children have enormous requirements for nutrients and energy because of their rapid growth and small body size. Help them get the nutrients they need by encouraging them to eat a wide variety of foods from all the food groups, fruit and vegetables, pulses and whole grains, with smaller amounts of lean protein like chicken or fish, and low fat dairy products."

Should you give your child supplements?

Sadly, not everyone can just slip something green onto their child's plate without risking a serious display of amateur dramatics by junior diners.

And if your little darling seems allergic to everything green, you've probably been thinking about vitamin supplements. It's an area lots of parents feel unsure about but there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. Supplements are in no way a replacement to a balanced diet (read more about that here), so if you're worried your child isn't getting all the nutrients they need currently, Vicky Pennington has this to say: "Fussy eaters and children with a limited repertoire of food are likely to be missing out on key nutrients and a vitamin A, C, D supplementation may be recommended for children aged six months to four years." Better still, visit a Boots pharmacist and just ask for some advice. Our pharmacists train for up to five years and are always happy to help.

Fit for school

A good, nutritious breakfast and lunch do wonders for energy levels and concentration (particularly once children are at school). Vicky Pennington suggests: "Bread, cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes - the wholegrain varieties are rich in carbohydrates, energy, fibre and B vitamins."

Poor eyesight can also be a factor if your child seems to be struggling at school. "This is such a common problem," says Boots optometrist Vicky O'Connor. "And it's not just caused by short-sightedness but by other conditions, too - such as a lazy or weaker eye." The problem is that most schools don't provide eyesight checks, so it's important to take your children for a check-up at least every two years.


Book your child's eye check at Boots Opticians 

Protecting your child's eye health

Help at your fingertips

If you've got school-age children then you'll be all too familiar with head lice and the multitude of coughs, colds and runny noses children seem to pass on to each other with frustrating generosity. To help prevent the onset of colds, consider using Boots Pharmaceuticals Children's Cold Defence Nasal Spray. If you can't make it down to your local Boots Pharmacy, we're here to help with information all hours at

The Boots WebMD site combines over 100 years of Boots Pharmacy experience with WebMD's comprehensive medical information, so you know you're in safe hands with anything from info on blocked noses to tackling tummy bugs.

But the good news, and the mantra that expert Jo Frost says every family should remember, is that with Patience, Persistence, Follow-Through, Consistency and Repetition, you'll be able to lay the groundwork for a happy, healthy child.



If you missed the show and want to listen to the questions posed by Mumsnetters, it's available now on the Mumsnet player.

And don't forget to tune into the Boots Feel Good Forum next Sunday on Real Radio (7-8pm) and Smooth Radio (8-9pm) when we'll be discussing weight management and how to boost your body confidence to get you feeling good, inside and out.


Last updated: about 3 years ago