How To Build Your Child’s Immunity As They Go Back To School
As parents we are thrilled that the children have gone back to school and some kind of normalcy has returned. With kids now breaking out of their bubble, as they interact in classrooms with other kids we see that their immunity is getting challenged – kids are coming down with colds, stuffy noses, runny noses, coughs and sometimes even fever.
This can make any mom panic, so before you go stock up on vitamins and supplements or take advice from influencers without any medical background, to keep your child healthy amid the current scenario, it is extremely important to consult your pediatrician and know which vitamins or supplements does your child really need.
It’s a widespread mistake that parents globally make is start giving their children vitamins and supplements blindly – hoping it will build immunity.
Did you know – Using vitamins in healthy individuals, and especially, in children, that do not need supplements can cause vital problems in organ functioning?
Instead, try these natural techniques to boost your child’s immunity
1. Eat the right foods
- Proteins are the building block for our tissues and body as a whole, so make sure to give your child adequate protein in their meals.
- Try to add legumes – such as beans, chickpeas or even different dals – twice a day. If your children eat fish or chicken – make sure to add that to their meal 2-3 times a week.
- If they are not allergic, include eggs, cheese and butter
- Encourage them to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables to get vitamins naturally. Oranges, mango, bananas or pomegranates are great sources of vitamins and great to boost the immune system
- Probiotics can also strengthen the immune system by keeping your gut healthy. Make sure to add homemade yogurt, fermented foods like idli, dosa, dhokla etc
- Prebiotics such as bananas and broccoli are also good foods to add to children’s diets. Prebiotics are rich in dietary fiber that feed gut-friendly bacteria, so you will get the most benefit from including both in your diet.
- Dried fruits and nuts should also be a part of a healthy diet. These provide the body with the needed vitamin E, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids. Nuts like cashew nuts, walnuts, almonds and pistachios can help strengthen the immune system. Make sure to give the children only a handful of nuts and not more.
2. Give them plenty of water
- Children either forget to drink water or avoid drinking a lot of water because they don’t want to use the restroom, so make sure you keep track of their intake and give them frequent reminders. You can also add fresh juices, nimboo pani, coconut water too.
- Drinking adequate water helps regulate blood circulation, supports the metabolism and facilitates the elimination of harmful substances and toxins from the body.
- Summers can cause the respiratory tract to become dry and irritated, and hence increases the risk of upper respiratory tract infections. You can reduce this risk by drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated.
3. A Good Night’s Sleep is needed
- Often when children are tired and sleepless, their body resistance decreases, and this can make them sick very easily. So make sure your children get enough sleep to increase their ability to fight any infection.
- Make sure to establish a good bedtime routine so they go to bed at the same time every night
4. Activity is crucial too
- Initial lockdown and home-schooling led to children being cooped up and their lives became more sedentary than usual, so it is very important to get them to play, to move and to be active.
- Playing, exercising and staying active also strengthens the immune system and increases body resistance against diseases.
- Let your child pick a sport he or she loves – this way they will find fun and get active.
- Swimming, football, cricket, tennis, basketball and even gymnastics are great to just start with.
5. Keep your house well-ventilated
- A lot of us live with our windows closed, which makes our environment poorly ventilated – this means germs stay trapped there for a long time and this is a huge risk for respiratory infections.
6. Managing Stress
- For many kids, transitioning back to school is stressful, and stress weakens the immune system. Kids and even adults under stress are less able to fight off infections. More so this year, as after many months of homeschooling, the kids are coming out of their bubbles and a lot of them are anxious and worried about returning to physical school while being away from their parents
- As parents it is important to build habits that will help your children calm their anxiety and manage stress, along with other immune-boosting strategies as they go back to school.
- Remember to have age-appropriate stress reduction techniques – like a few counts of deep breathing or pranayam – like anulom vilom or bhramari or even cuddling with a parent or playing with a pet or even stretching can work wonders for a young child. For older kids try guided meditation or yoga or even a walk in nature .
Our kids have been in a bubble where nothing really triggered their immunity, so now as they come out into the world, use the above-mentioned strategies to develop healthy habits and give a needed boost to your child’s immune response. Eating right, being active, rest and stress reduction, nutrients go a long way in keeping not only the children but the entire family stay. Consult your family physician or a pediatrician before starting your child on any OTC vitamins or supplements.