Winter can sometimes feel like a never-ending cycle of runny noses, fevers, and chesty coughs. While it is our job to see your kids when they are sick, we would so much rather see them just once a year when they are healthy! If you’re looking for ways to avoid sitting in the waiting room of Pediatric Care Group this winter, we’ve put together a few tips on how to boost your child’s immune system.
Sufficient Sleep is Key
Sleep is so critically important to almost all of the body’s functions, including boosting the immune system in your child. This simply means that they should be getting the recommended amount of sleep for their age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should get the following amount of sleep in a 24-hour period:
- Infants 4 months to 12 months- 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
- Toddlers 1 to 2 years of age- 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
- Preschoolers 3 to 5 years of- 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
- Children 6 to 12 years of age- 9 to 12 hours
- Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age- 8 to 10 hours
In order to give your kids the best chance at a good night’s sleep, cut screen time at least 30 minutes before bedtime and don’t allow TVs, tablets, or smartphones in their rooms. Implementing a bedtime routine can also help your kids get to bed on time ensuring they get an adequate amount of sleep.
Soap Up at the Sink
Have your child regularly wash their hands during cold and flu season. It’s one of the best ways to avoid getting sick, but we don’t do it often enough. Have your child wash their hands before and after meals, after returning from school or daycare, after using the bathroom, after touching pets or playing outside, after being in contact with someone who is sick, or after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing. This one isn’t just for the kiddos. Mom or Dad, it’s just as important for you to practice good hand washing habits to avoid bringing unwanted germs in contact with your kids.
Supercharge Their Diet
If your kids are surviving off of chicken nuggets and pizza, you’re not doing anything to help their immune system. Serving your child a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense foods will help boost their immunity and ward off that nasty virus that’s circulating in your neighborhood. If you’ve got a picky eater on your hands, try hiding immune boosting foods in smoothies, baked dishes, and fan favorites. For example, spinach which is packed with essential vitamins and minerals can be thrown in the food processor and added to spaghetti sauce, chopped up and added to an omelet, or blended into a fruit smoothie. Other great foods to boost immunity include:
Berries- raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, acai, goji
Citrus fruits- grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, clementines, lemons, limes
- Red bell peppers
- Yogurt with live and active cultures, like Greek yogurt
Toss the Toothbrush
While it doesn’t technically boost immunity, one of the first things you should do after your child recovers from being sick is to throw out their toothbrush. While a child can’t get sick with the same cold or flu virus twice, the virus can spread from your sick child’s toothbrush to other family members’ toothbrushes. If the infection was bacterial, such as strep throat, your child can contract the illness again. No matter what your child was sick with, tossing the toothbrush will protect your whole family from another round of sickness.