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Health & Parenting

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Kelly Ripa's Take on Mothering

Talk show host Kelly Ripa weighs in on healthy kids, parenting that works, and family dynamics.

Kelly Ripa's Work/Life Balance

Balancing it all without burning out requires skill -- and planning: "Listen, I run my family like a cruise ship. ‘Shuffleboard at 5!'" Ripa jokes. "Everybody knows exactly what's happening, all the time. And my house is like the CDC. I'm all about containment. We keep things really clean, really neat. The rooms are hydrated with humidifiers. When Michael was first in school, I had pinkeye six times that year. Now, it's prevention, prevention, prevention: We do supplements, probiotics, you name it."

A probiotic is a food or drink that contains healthy bacteria. Lactobacillus acidophilus, found in yogurt, is the best known; yeast is also a probiotic substance. "Parents may want to "consider the benefits of probiotics in the diet when it comes to their children, who may experience GI [gastrointestinal] ailments such as diarrhea that are tied to common childhood illnesses," says Kimberly Cover, RS, CSSD, LDN, a nutritionist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. For example, says Cover, a daily cup of yogurt goes a long way in maintaining a healthy GI tract for your child -- and it has many nutrients, including protein, calcium, and vitamin D, if the yogurt is fortified.

"Foods that provide the body with multiple nutrients pack a powerful punch in our convenient, contemporary lifestyle -- one that often doesn't allow the luxury of time and optimum nutrition quality," she says.

Some people prefer taking supplements, which come in powder form and can be bought over-the-counter. "If you are considering taking a probiotic supplement, always check with your physician, especially if you are also taking [other] medications," advises Cover, who adds, "Some research shows that taking probiotic supplements every day can actually have a harmful effect ... so, as with any medication, follow your doctor's suggested regimen carefully."

Prevention, in all its forms, is a mantra among family physicians. "To avoid common infectious diseases, good hand-washing is key," says Parker.

"To prevent behavioral problems such as constant limit-testing and oppositional behaviors, consistent and firm limit setting will usually do the trick," he adds.

"And to raise a physically fit child, healthy nutrition -- including low animal fat in the diet, not a lot of junk food, plenty of whole grains, fruits and veggies, plus plenty of exercise -- sets the stage for becoming a healthy adult."

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