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Consumer Reports: Healthy routines for back to school season

There’s lots to do to get your kids ready to go back to school and Consumer Reports says it’s also a good time to develop healthy habits for the rest of their lives.

CLEVELAND — There’s lots to do to get your kids ready to go back to school and to stick to a healthy routine once they’re in class. In addition to buying clothes and supplies, Consumer Reports says it’s also a good time to get started on making healthy choices for the rest of their lives.

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After a long, leisurely summer, you can help to ensure that kids feel and perform their best throughout the school year with this checklist from Consumer Reports.

Summer slumber habits should be reined in about two weeks prior to school starting. Begin setting alarms back about 15 minutes earlier each night, until they reach sleep and wake-up times that work for school.

Personal devices should be turned off well before bedtime. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops emit blue light, which can disturb kids’ sleep patterns.

Next: A shot in the arm. Your child’s school likely requires proof of up-to-date immunizations. Kids entering elementary school may need shots against polio, chickenpox, and other diseases, while those entering middle school or high school might need the meningococcal vaccine—which prevents meningitis—as well as the HPV vaccine, which prevents certain cancers.

Everyone who is eligible should also get a flu shot by the end of October and COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.

If your kids are anxious about starting the new school year, and if they’ll be going into a new building, plan a visit before the first day to ease their worries.

Hand-washing can prevent about 20 percent of respiratory infections. So give them a reminder lesson on how and when to wash.

They’ll have a new routine at school, so remind them to wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at key times, like after bathroom breaks, before lunch, or after playing outside.

Boost your child’s health by sending them to school with nutritious lunches. Mixing things up with a whole-grain item, a protein, a fruit or veggie, and a dairy product all packed in an interesting way will make it more likely they’ll eat it.

And don’t forget water! Studies show that drinking plenty of water reduces cavities and improves their readiness to learn. So think about sending your child off with a reusable bottle of fresh water.

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