Summer is almost over for many kids – help them get the very best start to their year.

Bring Bedtime Back:   Switching from summer hours to early bedtimes is the toughest part of the back to school routine. But a good night’s sleep is one of the fundamentals to staying healthy and keeping stress levels down during the transition and throughout the year. Ease your kids back into going to bed early a week or two before school starts. If it helps, set the bedtime early, but allow calm activities like reading in bed—but be sure to keep electronics and television at bay. Studies continue to prove that electronics before sleep can lead to interrupted sleep and fatigue the next day.

Doctor Visit:    All good back to school plans should include a visit to the doctor – a general checkup is important. While physicals can occur at any time, the start of the school year is when general illnesses coughs, colds, and flus come up more frequently. Providing a doctor with a baseline while you’re healthy can be a valuable measure for spotting signs and symptoms of illness earlier. For children involved in sports, a visit to the doctor is even more important. Not only will the doctor conduct a routine physical, he or she can also check for any underlying injuries, talk about proper nutrition, discuss training and exercise programs and even make sure your child is prepared for the extra layer that can come along with sports.

Backpack Savvy:   Lugging books around is an unavoidable part of the school day routine, but it shouldn’t be one that takes a toll on your child’s physical health. It’s important to choose a backpack that is sturdy and comfortable and that offers good support. Thick, padded shoulder straps will help ease rubbing and pinching, and can also spread weight out across the back more evenly. A hip belt will help stabilize the pack and prevent straining from trying to balance the weight, while a thick back pad will help disperse weight and avoid sharp edges from poking through. If you’re still concerned about the amount of weight your child carries, backpacks on wheels are also permissible in many schools and can make the struggle a little easier.

Study Up on Allergy Policies:   Know the allergy policies at your child’s school. The list of common allergens is growing among children, and so are the restrictions for children’s lunches – dairy, peanuts, eggs, nuts, soy, wheat and many other items may have guidelines around how they can be used or may be banned entirely. For all children’s safety, be sure you read and adhere to any documentation carefully. Food isn’t the only allergy concern for school-agers. Learning how to spot the signs of an allergic reaction can be just as important. For children with allergies to bee stings, for example, is a real concern, and its often students who must alert a teacher to the situation.

Meals:   No more leisurely breakfasts and make-your-own lunches—when a school day rolls around! It’s a quick bite at the table and then out the door, lunch bag in hand. And that means getting organized. Stock up on healthy breakfast items, from whole grain toast and peanut butter to yogurt and berry parfaits, so your little ones can head out the door with a full stomach. For picky eaters, a high-protein cereal is a good compromise to sugary options, and for those who don’t want to eat at all, smoothies and protein shakes are quick and easy options. When it comes to lunches, prepping the night before will avoid a hectic morning!  Start with whole grain breads, add healthy fillers like tuna, egg salad or turkey breast, and swap out mayo for spreads like hummus, guacamole or honey mustard.