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Body basics for raising healthy girls

As your girl learns more about caring for herself, bring up important health-related topics. And make sure to model the behaviors you want her to copy. Here are some key steps for raising a healthy girl:

  • Teach your girl to stay fit and eat right. Instead of focusing on thinness, talk about how exercise and nutrition can boost health and mood. Get tips for helping her stay fit and eat healthy. Try a body mass index (BMI) tool that can help girls figure out if they may be overweight or underweight. Learn about the BodyWorks program, which helps parents and caregivers of teens 9 to 14 improve eating and activity habits.
  • Emphasize the importance of staying away from drugs, alcohol, and smoking. Learn ways to talk about these tough topics.
  • Help keep her safe. Below are some examples, and you and your girl can learn more in our Safety section.
    • Car accidents are the number one killer of teens. A girl should always buckle up. Tell her not to drink and drive, and not to ride with a drunk driver. Tell her not to drive when she’s very tired and or when texting.
    • Make sure she uses the right helmet and other protective gear when she participates in sports.
    • If you have a gun, keep it unloaded and locked up.
    • Teach your girl water safety tips and how to swim.
  • Health care help

    If you are concerned about the costs of health care, you can get help. Learn about getting affordable health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. You also can learn about whether you can get free vaccines.

  • Make sure your girl has regular doctor and dentist visits. A teenager needs to see a doctor even if she isn’t sick to prevent problems. She also needs vaccines, which are carefully tested and can prevent serious diseases. Most doctors also say teens need some time alone with the doctor to discuss anything private.
  • Fight infections. You can print or send a link to info on hand-washing and food safety. You can also share cautions about tattoos and piercings.
  • Encourage a girl to get enough sleep. Most teens need a little more than nine hours of sleep each night. Share tips for better rest.
  • Snuff out smoking. If your teen smokes, help her quit. And don’t smoke around children (or, better yet — quit too!).
  • Keep her safe from lead in water, sun damage, and other environmental risks. And help her learn ways to protect herself.
  • Don’t let a backpack drag a girl down. Share some backpack do’s and don’ts.
  • Listen to experts’ advice on hearing. Around 1 out of 5 teens have slight hearing loss. Remind your girl to lower the volume on personal music players, and read information about hearing safety together.
  • Watch for signs of problems, like sudden weight loss and trouble sleeping. Talk with your child’s doctor if you have concerns.
  • Know your family medical history. Talk with your daughter about family medical issues in age-appropriate ways. You can create a family health history.
  • Share important information with other caregivers. If you have babysitters, make sure they know key medical information, such as any medication allergies your child might have.


Content last reviewed April 15, 2014
Page last updated June 02, 2014