While the return to school is a time of excitement for kids and parents alike, it also marks the beginning of cold and flu season, which isn’t always fun. This time of year can be particularly difficult for parents of young children who are still developing their immune systems, keeping everyone home from school and work on and off for months on end. If you’re looking for natural immune boosting tips for kids to keep your family as healthy as can be this season, this post has lots of ideas to help!
9 Natural Immune Boosting Tips for Kids
1. TEACH YOUR KIDS ABOUT GERMS
If you’re looking for immune boosting tips for kids, a great first step is to talk to your children about germs. While exposure to germs is key to helping them develop a healthy immune system, the pandemic has certainly changed things, and educating kids about germs and how they are spread is important. Thankfully, the internet is full of fun activities to teach kids about germs, and we’ve rounded up our favorites in THIS POST.
2. ENFORCE PROPER HAND HYGIENE
Enforcing proper hand hygiene is a simple and inexpensive way to not only avoid illnesses, but to prevent spreading germs to others. Make sure your kids are washing their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water when they walk through the front door, before and after eating or handling food, after using the bathroom, and after they cough, sneeze, and/or touch door knobs and surfaces sick people make have come in contact with.
Remind your kids to wash the backs of their hands, in between their fingers, and beneath their nails, and encourage them to sing the ‘Happy Birthday Song’ in their head (or out loud!) to ensure they are spending enough time soaping and rinsing.
3. PRIORITIZE SLEEP
The amount and quality of sleep your child gets has a significant impact on their physical and emotional well-being, and if your little one isn’t getting enough shut eye each night, it can impair their ability to focus and concentrate, make it harder for them to regulate their emotions, and it can weaken their immune system to boot.
If your child struggles with sleep, here are some tips to help:
- Be consistent. Make sure your child goes to bed and wakes up at the same time each day, including weekends and holidays, to establish a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
- Remove electronics an hour (or so) before bed. As much as our children love their iPads and tablets, the artificial blue light that is emitted by these devices can interfere with the release of melatonin, thus impairing the body’s circadian rhythm.
- Schedule physical activity an hour before bedtime. Instead of allowing your child to zone out in front of his or her tablet before bedtime, consider engaging them in physical activity to help get rid of excess energy and to provide their body with the sensory input it needs to settle down before bed. Not sure what sensory activities would be beneficial? We’ve got over 55 ideas HERE.
- Establish and stick to a bedtime routine. By doing the same things in the same order night after night before bed, you will give your child’s body signals that it’s time to slow down and prepare for sleep.
- Remove sensory distractions. If your child has sensory sensitivities to stimuli such as lights, sounds, and textures, take steps to remove them from his or her sleep environment. THIS POST has lots of great sleep tips and products for sensory sensitive kids.
4. MAKE SURE YOU’RE GETTING ENOUGH VITAMIN D
Vitamin D is an important component of T-cells, which guard our bodies against bacteria and disease. If you live in a cold climate, getting ample vitamin D from direct sunlight can be challenging in the winter months. Thankfully, vitamin D can also be found in milk and orange juice, and you and your kids can take supplements and drops from your local health store. Just make sure you’re consuming vitamin D3, not D2, which is synthetic.
5. SUPPORT YOUR CHILD’S GUT HEALTH
You may have noticed the terms ‘gut health’ and ‘probiotic’ popping up more often these days. Why? Because 70% to 80% of our immune system is located in our gut and improving our gut flora by consuming probiotics has been shown to improve our immune health.
If you’re looking for immune boosting tips for kids, adding probiotic foods and/or supplements into his or her diet is a great option to consider. In addition to improving immunity, probiotics can improve digestive health, prevent/relieve diarrhea, improve symptoms of anxiety and stress, and prevent/relieve allergies and symptoms of eczema. You can find probiotics in kid-friendly foods such as yogurt, kefir, pickles, and dark chocolate, or you can talk to your child’s doctor about using a probiotic supplement.
6. STAY ACTIVE
With the influx of technology for children, screen time is at an all-time high and many kids are spending their time watching TV or playing on iPads rather than getting outside or playing with their friends. Exercise boosts the immune system and keeps your little ones healthy. Enroll them in extracurricular activities like sports or gymnastics, take them to the park, get them to play and jump around with their friends, and do whatever else you can think of to keep them moving!
7. MAKE A POT OF CHICKEN SOUP!
Homemade chicken soup is one of the heartiest meals around, and you can stock it with lots of immune-boosting ingredients. For example:
- Chicken is a great source of protein, which your body needs for both growth and repair.
- Spinach boosts immune function, and also provides the body with necessary nutrients for cell division and DNA repair, making you healthier and better able to fight illnesses.
- Garlic is a super immune system booster in and of itself. It has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties, and it’s also a great natural antibiotic.
8. STOCK UP ON VITAMIN C
Vitamin C not only boosts your immune system, but is thought to increase the production of white blood cells. White blood cells are key to fighting infections, ensuring you’re as healthy as can be. Citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, clementines, tangerines, and grapefruits are all high in vitamin C, so if you’re looking for immune boosting tips for kids, consider adding these to your child’s daily diet!
9. START THE DAY WITH A SMOOTHIE
Breakfast smoothies are a quick and easy way to get in a healthy first meal of the day. They’re packed with nutritious, energizing ingredients, and a well-balanced breakfast smoothie has a good dose of veggies, fruits, fiber, protein, and healthy fats that will keep you and your child satisfied. If you’re looking for immune boosting tips for kids who are picky eaters, smoothies offer a delicious way to hide immune-boosting foods such as:
- Yogurt. Yogurt is a great source of good-for-you bacteria. When buying yogurt (soy or regular) look for the words ‘live and active cultures’ to ensure a high probiotic content. Many kid-friendly yogurts are high in sugar, which is what makes smoothies so wonderful. You can use plain, natural yogurt as your base, and add your child’s favorite ingredients for a boost of natural flavor!
- Berries. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries are packed with powerful antioxidants, which boost immunity while also fighting inflammation and cell damage.
- Spinach. As mentioned earlier, spinach boosts immune function, and also provides the body with necessary nutrients for cell division and DNA repair, making you healthier and better able to fight illnesses.
- Avocados. Avocados are rich in potassium, magnesium, and fibre, low in sodium, and have a good dose of vitamins C, A, E and B-complex. With polyphenols that work as antioxidants, avocados are a great way to lower inflammation. They also add a nice creaminess to smoothies, making them a win all around!
I hope this collection of natural immune boosting tips for kids keeps your family as healthy as possible this season and beyond. Remember to keep hands clean, prioritize sleep, stock up on probiotics and vitamins C and D, and make sure you and your little ones are eating immune-boosting foods like leafy greens, berries, citrus fruits, and garlic.