• 17
  • Feb

How to Make New York City Just as Healthy for Kids as the Suburbs

How to Make New York City Just as Healthy for Kids as the Suburbs

Raising healthy kids has always been hard and it seems it’s gotten harder with each passing generation. Sure, we have better immunization than we did 70 years ago, but we also have more toxins in the environment and more things in general that can be unsafe for little ones.

And, no matter how hard we as parents try to instill health consciousness, when we send our kids out into the world, our words compete against a slew of unhealthy temptations. This is especially true for those of us raising kids in a big city like NYC. As wonderful and amazing as this city is – heck, it’s truly the greatest city on the planet – it can be challenging raising healthy kids here.

Hence the age-old debate about where it’s better to raise your kids – NYC or the suburbs. That depends on who you ask, of course. There will always be parents on both sides of the picket fence. Personally speaking, as someone who grew up in NYC and is raising my kids here, I know firsthand the benefits and struggles of family life in the city. But I and my family wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Can you raise healthy kids in NYC like you can in the suburbs? Absolutely! In fact, I happen to think there are healthy advantages to raising kids in the city.

New York

As a general rule, truly healthy kids are ones who take an active role in their health – they aren’t being “forced” to make healthy decisions. With this in mind, it’s important that parents instill healthy habits in their kids by:

  • Making health a family affair and a family priority.
  • Staying very involved.
  • Not making things complicated.

Always remember, as the parent, you play a key role in your child’s choices and behaviors.

Here are some ways you can make NYC just as healthy for your kids as the suburbs:

Be Active with Your kids

In the suburbs, it’s easy to tell your kids to go outside and run around in the yard, or ride their bike outside in the cul-de-sac, or go swimming in the neighbor’s pool. With all of this safe, outdoor space, it’s easy for kids to stay physically fit and active.

City parents don’t have this luxury, and so we have to work harder at getting our kids to be physically active. Telling them to run around in the stairways and hallways of our apartment building will NOT be appreciated by our neighbors.

What we can do is get out and be active with our kids. One of the great things about NYC is there are so many wonderful public parks to take our kids to and play with them. Don’t sit on a bench and watch them play with other kids, but actually play WITH them. Toss a ball around, kick a soccer ball, chase them, play Frisbee. Not only are we getting them to move but we are setting an example by moving with them.

children playing

Limit Their Screen Time

It seems our kids would rather spend more time in front of the TV or their computer playing video games than just about anything else. And while this is fine for about 30 – 45 minutes a day, it can be very unhealthy for longer periods.

video games

In the suburbs, many families have large 3 bedroom houses with playrooms where kids can do other things besides watch television and play video games. But what are us city folk supposed to do? Well, we may have tiny apartments, but they’re big enough to play Uno or Scrabble or Chutes and Ladders or Crazy 8’s.

And you know what I’ve learned in the past year (though my kids would probably deny this) – they actually love playing silly board games and card games with their parents and sisters than playing their video games. Never expected that one.

On nice, warmer evenings, my family and I also take a family walk after dinner around the neighborhood. You never know what you’re going to see so it’s a fun family adventure, and we also get some nice, gentle exercise instead of all sitting in front of the television.

Instill Good Nutrition Habits

One of the best things about living in NYC is the food! And I don’t just mean that it’s delicious and we have access to some of the finest establishments, though we do and that’s awesome. I mean there is such a wonderful variety of food, unlike in the suburbs, that it’s easier for us to enjoy meals out as a family and make them healthy.

7 Easy & Healthy Lunch Ideas for Your Kids

healthy eating

In the suburbs, you’re apt to have few choices like fast food chains, pizza shops, and an Olive Garden. But in NYC, you have world cuisine at your fingertips, which means not only can you expose your children to diverse cultures, you can expose them to different, healthy ways of eating. My kids loved sushi at a very young age. I assure you, a sushi dinner is much healthier than burgers and fries.

Plus, in the warmer months, NYC has a ton of great farmers’ markets where you can take your kids and show them the wonderful organic produce. Shop together then take your produce home and create a gorgeous salad together.

Instilling healthy eating habits is, I feel, much easier in a big city.

Raising healthy kids in NYC doesn’t have to be hard if you follow some simple guidelines. In our opinion, city kids have it SO much better than suburban kids. But let’s keep that between us so all of those suburbanites don’t move to the city!

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UrgentWay Medical Center

Comments (3)

  • How to Make New York City Just as Healthy for K...

    […] Raising healthy kids has always been hard and it seems it’s gotten harder with each passing generation.  […]

  • Kim

    I’m curious as to why life for kids in NYC wouldn’t be considered healthier than in the suburbs. For starters, they walk everywhere. I bet my kids walk up to 50% more than their peers in the suburbs, maybe even more! Also, city parents have plenty of safe play spaces in NYC. Do you think kids younger than 9 or 10 are going to the neighborhood pool or the big park that’s half a mile or more down the road unaccompanied by a parent? I don’t think so. And neither do they here. They have all the same opportunities for sports as kids in the suburbs, and here in NYC, we have dozens of green markets where we get our fresh, local produce. There are a dozen CSAs one can join too. AND we have better access to organic produce and other products in the supermarkets in NYC than probably anywhere in the country. And screen time? Why would it be any worse in NYC than in the suburbs? That just doesn’t make any sense. Another added benefit of raising healthy kids in the city vs. the suburbs is that they learn street smarts. Riding the subway and the bus is common place for them. They understand both that it’s faster than driving and better for the environment. So in the end, I think your article should be titled exactly the opposite – How to Make Raising a Child in the Suburbs as Healthy as in the City. It would include emphasis on increased activity (walking to school instead of being driven), seeking out the green markets in the area and buying produce, meat, eggs and other fresh items there, and getting them involved in after school programs so they aren’t sitting home after school watching TV or playing video games. -Kim, A Child Grows in Brooklyn

  • UrgentWay Hempstead

    […] Can you raise healthy kids in NYC like you can in the suburbs? Absolutely! In fact, I happen to think there are healthy advantages to raising kids in the city. Read More […]