– Dr. Harikah is a paediatrician at Sprout Children’s Clinic, Bengaluru
My five-year-old son weighs 23 kg. Despite my best efforts, he tends to eat a lot of junk food. Should I worry about him becoming obese at this age?
— Chitra Subramaniam, Chennai
Yes, his weight is too much for his age. You have to instill healthy eating habits in him and mandate regular exercise. If eating right and exercise does not become integral to his lifestyle now, he is likely to suffer grave health problems in later life.
Naturally, children want junk food. But you should make an effort to provide healthy snack options such as makhana, puffed rice, chikki, salad, fruits, soups, dry fruits, brown bread with homemade peanut butter/almond butter etc. Involve your son in preparing healthy snack foods, and he will slowly and surely realise their health and nutritional value.
Another simple way to stop children from consuming junk food is to not keep it at home.
My seven-year-old son loves to play outdoors and he often suffers scratches and bruises. What first aid should be administered to him and is a tetanus injection necessary every time he suffers an injury?
— Disha Vemu, Mumbai
If your son is vaccinated according to the national vaccination schedule, he doesn’t require additional tetanus jabs for minor injuries until he is ten years of age. The compulsory immunization programme includes tetanus protection.
Whenever he hurts himself, wash the injury area with soap and water to get rid of external dust particles and germs, and apply antiseptic lotion twice daily until the wound becomes dry. But if there’s a deep injury, consult a doctor.
My eight-year-old daughter keeps touching her ears. She says she has no pain but some wax is always seen in the outer area. Does the ear wax need to be removed?
— Hima Kiran, Pune
Generally, a small amount of wax in the ear is good as it protects small insects from crawling inside the auricle. Wax is natural protection against foreign bodies. After a shower, the wax and dirt in the outer ear becomes soft, and you can gently clean the outer ear with the edge of a towel. But take care to clean only the outer area. Don’t attempt to insert anything inside the ear. Sometimes, there is hard, impacted wax which causes pain and cannot be easily removed except by an ENT specialist.
During winter, my children’s skin becomes very dry. As a result they are always scratching their legs and backs. Please advise.
— Rema Smitha, Bengaluru
Apply coconut oil immediately after a shower to retain skin moisture and prevent dryness. Pure coconut oil is free of artificial perfumes, chemicals and colours, making it safe for children. It also has several preventive health properties.
Moreover it’s important to keep children hydrated as they don’t feel thirsty during the winter months, and tend to drink less water. Encourage them to drink water and fresh juices. You could also prepare fresh vegetable/chicken soup for them.
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