Your child needs to eat healthy
meals with appropriate portions to support growth and prevent weight gain. The
meal plan for your child will also spread
carbohydrate throughout the day to prevent high blood
sugar after meals. For information on healthy eating and weight management, see
Healthy Eating for Children.
- Diabetes in Children: Counting Carbs
- Healthy Eating: Helping Your Child Learn Healthy Eating Habits
- Diabetes in Children: Food Issues at School
Encourage your child (age 6 to
17) to do moderate to vigorous activity at least 1 hour every day. Limit the amount of time your child watches TV and uses the computer and cell phone. You can help your child or teen be active by looking for ways to make activity more fun and by being active along with your child.
For children age 2 and older: The
American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to limit screen time to 2 hours a
day or less. And it's best for children younger than 2 to not watch TV, watch movies, or play games on a screen.
Work with your child's teachers and school to
make a plan to handle your child's special needs, including testing blood sugar
and eating snacks when needed.
- Diabetes in Children: Preparing a Care Plan for School
Your child can take part in the same activities as other
children. For safety:
- Let the coach know that your child has
diabetes. If your child doesn't take insulin, he or she may not be at risk for
low blood sugar episodes. But making sure that the coach knows the symptoms of low blood sugar may still be a good
- Take your child's
home blood sugar meter to sports practice sessions and
games. Check his or her blood sugar level before and after each activity, if
- Take a
snack that contains carbohydrate to all practice
sessions and games in case of a low blood sugar episode.
Home blood sugar monitoring
You and your child
will need to monitor his or her blood sugar frequently to know how well it is
under control. Talk with your doctor about a target range for
your child. Young children may need a higher blood sugar goal than adults
because of growth needs and to prevent very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). As
your child grows older, the goal can be lowered so that it is closer to the
- Diabetes in Children: Checking Blood Sugar in a Child
Your child may not need to take
insulin if his or her blood sugar levels are staying within a target range with
meal planning, exercise, and possibly other medicine. But at some point your
child may need to take insulin because the
pancreas may produce less and less insulin.
If your child takes insulin, you and your child need to know how to
prepare and give a shot.
- Diabetes in Children: Giving Insulin Shots to a Child
Other important issues
- How to recognize and treat high blood sugar.
Blood sugar levels that suddenly rise above a target range can lead to an
- Diabetes in Children: Preventing High Blood Sugar
- How to recognize and treat low blood sugar. Your child is not
likely to have a sudden drop in blood sugar level unless he or she is taking
sulfonylurea or meglitinide medicines for diabetes or insulin injections and is
unable to eat regular meals.
- Diabetes in Children: Treating Low Blood Sugar
medical identification at all times. In an emergency, medical identification
lets people know that your child has diabetes so they can care for your child
- Where to get support. Many areas of the country have
support groups for children and teens with diabetes and for family members.
These groups provide encouragement and suggestions that may help you and your
child deal with the daily issues of diabetes care. Talk with your doctor about
groups in your area.
- How to care for the feet. Your child needs to
wear shoes that fit properly. He or she should not go barefoot outdoors. It's a good idea to begin the habit of inspecting your child's feet periodically or any time he or she has a foot complaint. Look for signs of injury or infection. If you notice a
foot problem, even a minor one, talk with your doctor before treating
- What to do for illness. Some general
sick-day guidelines may be helpful. These include
checking your child's blood sugar every 4 hours during the illness and
encouraging your child to drink fluids to prevent dehydration. Do not give your
nonprescription medicines without talking with a
doctor or pharmacist. Some of these medicines can affect blood sugar
What to think about
Childhood and the teen years
are a difficult time to be diagnosed with diabetes. Normal developmental
changes may interfere with your child following his or her treatment.
Teens with diabetes may rebel against
treatment or participate in risky behavior, such as using drugs or drinking
You play a major role in helping your child become
independent in his or her diabetes care. Allow your child to do as much of the
care as possible. But give your child the support and guidance he or she
needs. Your child will be more successful if your family is physically active and has healthy eating habits.
- Children in elementary school can cooperate
in all tasks required for their care. By age 8, children can test their own
blood sugar if they are supervised.
- Children in middle school or junior
high school should be able to test their own blood sugar, but they may need
help during low blood sugar episodes. By age 10, some children can give insulin
injections if they are supervised.
- With appropriate supervision, teens should be able to handle their
care. If the teen needs to take insulin, he or she
may choose to use an
insulin pump instead of injections. If your teen
chooses to use a pump, be sure to supervise.
- Diabetes: Should I Get an Insulin Pump?