As our little ones embark on a new journey, every year returning to school is of courses, a step closer to independence. You want what’s best for your babies- even when they are not babies anymore- but school will bring a lot of challenges. One such challenges, is keeping them healthy and happy so they can focus on doing what they do best: being kids.
Going back to school often means being exposed to a new set of germs, especially if your child is moving into a new school or will have new class mates. This can mean the start of the colds, coughs and tummy bugs. There are a few things we do in our house, in order to help those little immune system’s cope with all of these new challenges.
Good nutrition is key
Good nutrition is a priority when it comes to staying well, especially for our little ones. The food our kids eat each day will determine their health throughout the year. We all hope that our babies will have the most robust immune system ever known to man: a superhuman power of immunity to fight off the various bugs they encounter at school. Though this dream might not be possible, we can opt for foods that contain the vitamins and minerals that are children's immune systems cannot function without. Vitamins like vitamin A, C, D B06, B12, zinc, iron and selenium, are essential to maintain a normal immune function. Fruit and veg and food high in iron and zinc should be in your trolley to sure your children get these vitals. However, parents know that not every piece of broccoli will end up in their child's tummy.
To make absolutely certain that my little ones are getting the vitamins they need, we add in a kid’s multi-vitamin each day. This is especially important for fussy eaters to ensure that your child’s nutrition base is covered. Like many Irish families, we trust Haliborange. They make a range of kid’s multivitamins and the Strawberry flavour Softies for kids aged 3 – 12 years, are a real winner in our house!
Try to buy less sugar and processed foods
This can be hard (as we all have a bit of a sweet tooth) but we beat the back-to-school-bugs in our house by limiting the sugary and refined foods we eat. Refined sugar and refined foods can cause a spike in blood sugar. Constant spiking of blood sugar can cause stress to the immune system, leaving our children more likely to suffer from colds and infections. Help your child to become excited about healthy eating by involving them in the cooking and meal planning- this worked a treat for my littles ones!
Mental Health is just as important
Stress can cause a decrease in children’s immune system function. As adults, we may not necessarily see what there is for a child to be stressed about. However, it’s common for children to experience stress. This can come from exams or peer pressure and can cause a considerable effect on our kiddo’s. It is really important that our children learn how to relax, and to enjoy activities that are therapeutic such as playing outside and craft. It’s also a good idea to frequently talk to your children about their worries and concerns, so that you can help them if needs be. I find the best thing is to talk to them individually each day, maybe in the car or while they help you with a chore. Talk about your day and they will open up about theirs.
Being outside in nature has shown to reduce stress levels and help to keep our immune system strong. This is to do with the natural chemicals that plants emit called Phytoncide- thanks a million, nature! Being exposed to the sun has the added benefit of increasing vitamin D levels, needed to support your kid’s immune system. Try making some soft rules about screen time and indoor play, to get your kids playing outside. Make the most of sunny days, but don’t let the rain stop you from gearing them up with hoods and wellies!
Hygiene: keep em’ clean
This is an interesting topic. We need to let our children play in dirt to allow their immune systems to be challenged in the right ways. In saying this, we should also teach them hygiene to help protect them from becoming sick. Not putting hands in mouths and washing hands well before eating can help to stop the spread of colds, coughs, stomach bugs and worms. Encourage them to use tissues and wash their hands with soap. Make it a fun game- without using too much water, of course- and allow them to enjoy getting soapy before mealtimes etc.
Try these tips to boost your child’s immune system for the new school year. If you have any tips of your own, make sure you share them with other mums and dads too- we are all in this together!