How to Boost Your Child’s Immune System
With school or the crèche, activities, and playdates all on the go, little ones can easily pick up colds, flu or other illnesses, and as a parent it’s certainly not nice to see! Although the occasional bout of sniffles is inevitable, there are some steps parents can take to ensure their kids are fighting fit against common illnesses.
Ditch the sweets
Most kids have a bit of a sweet tooth, but when it comes to your child’s immune system it’s a scourge! Try not to encourage sweets as a regular fixture and instead place the focus on nourishing them with a healthy diet filled with fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and eggs.
In particular, walnuts have healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which help the body fight illness. If you’re feeling adventurous, the tart milk drink known as kefir contains lots of healthy probiotics; live ‘good’ bacteria and yeasts that are especially beneficial for the digestive system.
If you’re nervous about completely outlawing sweet treats for the kids, try substitute the usual crisps and chocolate standards with nuts or exotic fruits such as raisins, grapes, pineapple, blueberries (packed with antioxidants which ward off types of cell damage) and tomatoes.
Make sleep a priority
Getting enough zzz’s is an essential part of your child’s wellbeing as it helps their body recover and reenergise. Depending on their age, children need between 10 and 14 hours of sleep per day. Quality of sleep is hugely important when it comes to building a child’s immune system. A top tip is to start small, by turning off devices such as a TV, tablet, games console or smartphone an hour before bed and set a consistent time for your little one to go to sleep. This should help get a routine in place. Reading a story is still an effective and relaxing part of bedtime, also.
Say no to smoking
Smoking not only harms your health, it can seriously damage your child’s health too. Second-hand smoke contains toxins which can harm or kill cells in the body, therefore damaging the immune system. Children are particularly susceptible to these dangers so avoid smoking around them at all times.
Teach them to wash their hands
With kids playing outside, rolling on the floor and generally getting into mischief, they can easily pick up dirt and germs, therefore it’s really important they wash their hands. You can reinforce this message by helping them wash their hands after being outside, playing and before and after meals.
Teaching them how to wash is equally crucial. Explain the hygenic reasons behind this practice and how fresh you feel afterwards, as well as stressing the importance of using soap and warm water. You can also use the trick of teaching them to sing a song while washing their hands so you’re sure they’ve washed properly.
Take a multivitamin
As we all know, it can be tricky to get kids to eat their fruit and vegetables. Getting them to take a multivitamin can be a way to ensure they’re getting their immune-boosting nutrients. Remember though, multivitamins are just a supplement. Make sure your little one is eating right too!
Essential fatty acids
Essential fatty acids are important as they assist white blood cells in fighting off infection. Found in oily fish – salmon, for example – they strengthen the body as well as the brain. Deficiences in essential fatty acids can lead to various symptoms and disorders including liver and kidney problems, reduced growth rates, dryness of the skin and mental health issues. You’ll also find them in pumpkin and sunflower seeds, walnuts, cashews and avocados.
Just like mums and dads, kids can feel stressed and it’s key for you to have patience and support them. Stress can have a debilitating effect on the body, and since kids are bound to experience some growing pains, encourage them to have down time and create a peaceful atmosphere, so they can feel secure and healthy.