As a parent, one of your biggest concerns is your children’s health. If you could, you would wave a magic wand to ensure they never got sick – but sadly, you can’t. The good news is, there are still things you can do to boost their immune systems – and most of them are easy!
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best and easiest ways to give your kids a boost in the health department without losing all your money – or your sanity.
Let them get dirty! This may seem counterproductive, but hundreds of studies show that letting your kids be exposed to bacteria in things such as mud, dirt, and even on other kids will do wonders for their immune systems later on. While they may get sick at first, exposing them to the germs of everyday life will help train their bodies’ immune systems to fight off bacteria faster and more efficiently in the future. This isn’t to say you should purposefully expose your kids to dangerous illnesses, but when it comes to eating dirt or touching toys at daycare, relax and let your kid do what kids do!
Supplement with vitamins and probiotics. This is another cheap, easy way to keep your kids’ health in check with a simple pill or gummy each day. There are hundreds of different vitamins and mineral supplements for kids and teens, as well as probiotics that help keep their body systems operating as they should be by replenishing good bacteria that keep them healthy. Bonus: many vitamins come in fun flavors and shapes and taste more like candy than a health supplement, so you may find that your kids actually look forward to taking their vitamins each night. (Just be sure they don’t have access to them while unsupervised to prevent them from eating too many at once!)
Make it a point to enforce a bedtime. Let’s face it: a tired child gets sick much easier than a well-rested child. This is because when their little bodies are run down, they are more susceptible to everyday germs, viruses, and bacteria. By enforcing an appropriately early bedtime, you can ensure that your kids will wake up in a better mood, more alert, and also in a better position to fight off sickness – and it will give you more quiet time at night!
Take antibiotics the right way. The rise of superbugs (infections that are resistant to antibiotics) are caused by 1) taking antibiotics when they aren’t necessary and 2) not finishing a dose completely. Antibiotics will not help a cold or sore throat unless there is an active infection such as a sinus infection or strep. Giving your child antibiotics they don’t need will not only not help them get better, but destroy the good bacteria in their systems and weaken their immune system’s ability to fight of what they do have now and in the future. In addition, if a doctor does prescribe your child antibiotics, be sure he or she takes the entire dose (even if she starts to feel better.) Often, children can start feeling better before the bacteria is completely dead. If the antibiotics are stopped, the bacteria can grow back stronger and even immune to said antibiotic – a scary position no one wants to put their child in.
Encourage exercise. It’s no surprise that the immune system benefits from regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Exercise not only produces changes in white blood cells that fight disease, but the temporary increase in body temperature following a sweat session can help kill bacteria! You don’t have to take your kids on ten-mile runs to reap the benefits of exercise – simple games of kickball or jumprope with friends, or participation in sports can check this box for you and ensure your child’s heart and muscles are healthy, too!
Don’t slack on fruit. Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins when it comes to the immune system – there is a reason people take vitamin C drops when they are starting to feel sick! Not only does vitamin C help kill microbes, but boosts the immune system as a whole. The best part is, vitamin C is found in nearly every fruit, with high concentrations in oranges, cherries, kiwi, apples, and more. Fruit is a classic kid favorite because of its sweet and juicy taste, so chances are, you won’t hear any complaints from your tot when incorporating more fruits into his diet!
If they are sick, let them rest. While no parent wants to see their child sick in bed, encouraging her to get up and continue daily life when she’s still feeling down or just starting to feel better may open a door for the same illness (or another) to come back. Rest is the most important thing for the immune system while it is hard at work, so letting your daughter take that extra sick day from school and watch cartoons may be your best bet. Only send them back to school when they are feeling better and no longer contagious – you don’t want to make someone else’s baby sick!
Employ basic hygiene practices like hand washing. Hand washing, while being the best way to prevent the flu, is also a champ at preventing other diseases, as well. Most germs end up on our hands, and then in our mouths, nose or eyes, which is where they infect us. Keeping clean by hand washing, taking regular baths or showers, and brushing teeth are a great way to keep germs off and prevent illness. Be sure to teach your kids how to do all these things properly, and you’ll have a much healthier, happier family!
There you have it! These are doubtlessly the best, most efficient ways to boost your kids’ immune systems without breaking the bank. The best part is, most of these tips are beneficial for other reasons, too, contributing to healthier child in every way. Comment down below with your go-to tips for keeping your kids healthy, along with which of these tips you’re excited to try!
Dani Fogel. is a Communication Coordinator at Brandable, based in Los Angeles, CA. She works on the Queen V brand within the company’s Digital and Ecommerce department.