The change of season is upon us. With this year’s cold and flu season predicted to be especially bad, it’s more important than ever to be prepared.
The immune system plays an important role as the first line of defence to fight off bacteria and stop viruses. In early childhood, the immune system is still developing. Its effectiveness may be challenged by fussy eating, increased exposure to illness or infection from playground adventures or school.
What are easy steps parents can take to support kids immune health?
Encourage your kids to spend more time at the sink
Adequate handwashing is the single most important step in helping to reduce the spread of germs. Your kids will say you have told them 100 times, but adequate hand hygiene is essential. This applies at home, school, within our communities, before eating, blowing a nose, after using the bathroom or touching animals.
Don’t forget babies and toddlers. If your child is too young to reach the basin, wash their hands with disposable wipes or a wet, soapy flannel. Ensure all soap is rinsed off and their hands thoroughly dried.
The more kids share, the more likely they are to share germs. When it comes to bacteria and viruses, they can be extremely generous. Give your child reminders not to share foods or drinks with friends.
Eat a healthy balanced diet
Ensuring your child consumes a healthy and balanced diet is one of the simplest ways to support their immune system.
To achieve recommended nutrient intakes, aim for a variety of fruits, colourful vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and dairy.
The dietary intake of fussy children may be less than optimal. During these times the addition of a supplement may help to maintain healthy nutrient levels.
Studies show that being well rested goes a long way toward fighting off a cold or flu. With hectic schedules it’s easy to overlook the impact of a good night’s sleep on our health.
Typically children need 9-11 hours of sleep a night, and adults 7-8 hours. Bedtime can be a nightly battle with children. Staying away from sugary or fatty foods, getting regular exercise and using a calming, screen-free bedtime routine can make it easier for children to fall asleep.