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5 Year Check Up

DIET/NUTRITION:  Many parents worry that their children do not eat enough at this age, but small portions from different food groups will provide adequate nutrition.   Try to offer several servings of fruits of vegetables each day along with 2-3 servings of dairy products to ensure adequate calcium intake.   Children at this age require no more than 30% of their total calories from fat, which is the same as a healthy adult diet.  Most children at this age do not require any vitamins, but if you are concerned that your child does not get enough variety in his or her diet, discuss with your doctor adding a chewable children’s multivitamin once a day.  Limit the amount of sugary drinks (including juice) your child consumes each day to no more than 1 cup, and try to offer healthy snacks (such as carrot sticks, fruit, yogurt, or pretzels) instead of junk food for snacks.  Turn off the television during mealtime and eat meals with your children as much as possible.  Try to make meals a pleasant experience for the whole family!

DEVELOPMENT:  Most five year olds can pedal a bicycle or tricycle, hop on one foot, skip with alternating feet, copy a triangle, and dress and undress themselves with little help.  Fine motor skills at this age include zipping and buttoning and holding a pen or pencil to write or draw.  Children at this age typically play well with other children, enjoy interactive games, and engage easily in imaginative play.  Five year olds should be toilet-trained, although many will still have occasional nighttime wetting accidents.   Their speech is usually very understandable, although they may have some difficulty clearly saying a few sounds.  Most five year olds are able to count to ten and say their ABCs.  Before going to school, it is important not only for your child to know his name, but also to learn his address and phone number.  Reading to your child at this age remains a very important tool to help develop his or her own reading skills.

BEHAVIOR/DISCIPLINE:  Provide clear and easy to understand rules for your child, and make consequences consistent for bad behavior.  Praise for good behavior often works better than punishment for bad behavior, but make sure you carry out whatever penalty you have discussed for broken rules, so your child learns that bad behavior will not be tolerated and takes your rules seriously.  Using time outs at this age may still be effective, with one minute per year of age a good guide.  Withholding privileges, such as television or computer time, can also be effective.

DENTAL CARE:  By age 5 children should be regularly seeing a dentist twice a year and should be brushing their teeth at least before bedtime and preferably also in the mornings.  Most children at this age should be able to use regular toothpaste with fluoride if they are able to spit when they brush, to avoid swallowing too much fluoride.

SAFETY:   Once children have outgrown their infant car seats (usually around 4 years or 40 pounds) the safest way to ride in the car is in a booster seat until they are 60-80 pounds.  As of July 1, 2005 Indiana law requires children less than 8 years old to ride in booster seats.  To teach your children the importance of seat belt safety, model good behavior by always wearing your own seat belt and teaching your child that your car does not move until everyone is buckled up.  Children under 12 years should not ride in a front seat with an airbag.  Bicycle helmets are important for all kids who ride bicycles, even if they do not ride far from home.  Again it is important to model good behavior and wear your own helmet if you ever ride a bike.  Make sure that smoke detectors in your house function properly at all times by regularly changing batteries or testing them.  Teach your children not to take things from strangers and never to walk away with or get in a car with someone they do not know.  Also children should learn how to dial 911 for emergencies only and need to know their phone number and address in case they ever need to call for help.  Use sunscreen and insect repellent as needed in the summer to avoid sunburn and insect bites.