As you send the kids off to school each day, you’re inevitably sending them to a germ center. And although bacteria does make them more resilient with age, there are some all-natural defenses you should add to your arsenal to prevent them from coming down with something. Here are five natural immune boosters to keep your kids healthy without introducing strong chemicals into your child’s routine.
Studies published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) show that using probiotic supplements can help reduce the occurrence of respiratory and gastrointestinal infection in adults and children. Probiotics are available in many different kid-friendly options, from chewables and gummies to drinkable liquids and yogurts. You can even add powders to a picky eater’s favorite smoothie or juice. As with any new supplement, however, it’s always a good idea to consult the pediatrician before use.
Although you may rely on supplements to fulfill your child’s daily dose of vitamins, you’re better off loading up on vitamin-rich foods, as detailed by Mayo Clinic. Foods containing antioxidants are great natural immune boosters because they prevent free radicals from damaging healthy cells.
Send your kids off to school ready to fight their classmates’ germs by coupling their breakfast with pomegranate juice. Blueberries are a similar, kid-friendly addition to cereal. When berries are out of season, various frozen varieties have the same vitamin-packed punch and can be added to protein shakes and muffins—both of which are easy to take on the bus in the morning.
Guide Their Hygiene
Good hygiene obviously helps you stay healthy, but it’s especially important for young kids who stick germ-ridden fingers in their mouths. The next time you send your little one to wash their hands, take a minute to sneak a peek and make sure they’re doing it right. Chances are (as I discovered with my own six-year-old), despite your best efforts, she’ll wash too quickly or even skip soap altogether—leaving the sink with less-than-clean hands.
It may be tempting to opt for hand sanitizers instead of soap and water when you have kids that rush, but using a natural soap like Tom’s of Maine Beauty Bars is a much safer option. This ensures no harmful ingredients end up in your child’s system. After all, even once they’re cleaned, wiggly fingers will inevitably end up near their mouths again.
Don’t Just Set a Bedtime—Prepare for It
It’s a cliché, but nothing beats a good night’s sleep when it comes to keeping your body’s immune system at its peak. A continuous lack of sleep can weaken your body’s ability to fight off infections, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. And people tend to get less than they should. Guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation give you a rough estimate of how many hours a day are ideal, but keep in mind every child is different. Pay attention to how tired yours is when he or she wakes up to determine if you should adjust bedtime. If your little one still takes naps—or a concerned teacher suspects exhaustion during class—this might reflect the quality of nighttime sleep too.
Start a bedtime routine that revolves around sleep-inducing elements at an early age. If your child has outgrown her bedtime story, have her read a book to herself or practice reading aloud to you. No matter what age, a relaxing bath is a great way to ease into sleep mode. It also helps to avoid sugar in the evening hours. I started cutting out all sweets in my daughter’s diet after 2 p.m. when I realized the impact it had on her bedtime. Finally, make sure your child isn’t over-scheduled. Too many activities late in the day can jazz them up when they should be winding down.
Sanitize When They Come Home
Just because your child makes it back from school without getting sick doesn’t mean they haven’t brought the germs home with them. School surfaces can easily transfer germs to your child’s backpack or anything else she brings home. Use natural cleansers, such as vinegar or tea tree oil as suggested by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), instead of synthetic fluids to disinfect items that come from school. I have my daughter change out of her school uniform into clean clothes every afternoon. I also wash her lunchbox with a natural sanitizer and make sure she unpacks her backpack and leaves it hanging by the door.
The best way to provide immune support for kids is to teach them to keep themselves healthy when you’re not with them. How? Model these same preventative steps yourself. Eat vitamin-rich foods, get plenty of rest, and practice good hygiene right along with them and you’ll keep your whole family fit this winter.
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.