Looking after yourself is one thing, but when you have children, your focus automatically turns to them.
Many otherwise healthy children catch colds every year. The fact is that children can be more vulnerable from these risks than adults, in part due to the fact that they’re still growing, and their immune systems are still developing.
However, there are some steps you can take to help support your child’s immune system.
In advance of Family Health and Fitness Day, which takes place on Saturday, September 29th, we share some tips for helping to support your kids’ health. Read on to find out more.
Healthy foods to support children’s immune systems
The key to a healthy immune system is a balanced diet. A treat can be fine here and there, but it’s important to ensure your child gets the nutrients they need from their food. Here are some ways to give your kids the diet they need.
Hide vegetables in recipes
Kids can be notoriously reluctant to eat their veggies. Yet vegetables are vital for providing vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C to support immune function. To avoid the possible endless battle of trying to get them to eat vegetables, go a little ninja in the kitchen.
Use a blender to make smooth pasta sauces that the kids will love – they won’t even know you’ve hidden some of those healthy veggies in there! Try making a marinara sauce by cooking onions, celery, leeks, carrots and zucchini, before blending with tomato sauce and stock for a smooth consistency.
Grow your own
A great way to get kids interested in healthy foods is to grow your own. It’s a fun activity for all the family, and you don’t need a huge plot to do it. Grab some pots or containers and grow herbs and vegetables.
The kids will love watching the progress of their crops, and they can take much more interest in how healthy food goes from seed to plate. It can also be a great way to encourage trying new foods.
Swap sugary snacks for healthier ones
Another way to ensure your child consumes immune-supporting foods is to replace sugary snacks with healthier alternatives. Processed foods that are high in sugar may actually be detrimental to the immune system, so try to avoid these.
Instead of a candy bar or chocolate, give them fruits that will satisfy their sweet tooth, such as kiwis or oranges, which are packed with vitamin C.
A treat can be fine every now and then, but healthy snacking will hopefully lead to a love of the good stuff!
Cut out sugary drinks
Sugary drinks are also bad for kids when consumed regularly. As well as being bad for the teeth and potentially contributing to weight gain, these drinks may also be disruptive to immune function3.
Instead, encourage kids to drink water, which does a much better job of quenching thirst, and has no sugar.
Ensure they get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is vital for people of all ages, especially children. Not getting enough sleep can be damaging to the immune system.
Children – especially infants, toddlers and school-aged kids – need more sleep than adults each night. The Sleep Foundation recommends the following amount of sleep per night:
- Newborn babies (0-3 months) – 14 to 17 hours
- Infants (4-11 months) – 12 to 15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years) – 11 to 14 hours
- Pre-school children (3-5 years) – 10 to 13 hours
- School-aged children (6-13 years) – 9 to 11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17) – 8 to 10 hours
Ensure your children are in a routine that enables them to get the right amount of sleep for their age. It’s also a good idea to reduce screen time in the lead up to bed, as this can have a detrimental impact on sleep quality.
Keep them active
Exercise is essential for good health, helping to activate the immune system and contributing towards maintaining a healthy weight, so it’s important that children are active. Kids and adolescents should do a range of exercises to keep in shape.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for America suggest an hour of exercise per day, across these three types of activity:
Aerobic exercise should form the majority of your child’s exercise and should be done for 30 minutes at least three times a week.
- Moderate intensity exercise includes cycling or brisk walking, while running is classed as a vigorous intensity activity.
Muscle strengthening activities should be done at least three days per week, for adolescent children.
- Examples include gymnastics or activities like sit-ups and push-ups.
Bone strengthening exercise should be taken at least three days per week.
- Running is a good example of a bone strengthening activity, alongside things like soccer or jump rope.
To encourage healthy and active behaviors in your children, schedule regular family outings where you can enjoy quality time together and be healthy. Anything from a walk to an afternoon at the park can help to ensure your kids get some valuable exercise.
Lead by example
As a parent, it’s important to set a good example for your children when it comes to healthy behaviors. With that in mind, you should encourage healthy habits by participating in exercise and eating well, alongside your kids.
Another way to promote healthy behavior is to encourage your kids to wash their hands, especially after using the bathroom or handling food. Washing with soap and water helps to remove germs more effectively. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:
- Wetting your hands with clean, running warm or cold water
- Turning off the tap and applying soap
- Rubbing your hands together to lather the soap, remembering the backs of the hands, fingers and under the finger nails
- Scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds
- Rinsing well under clean, running water
- Drying your hands using a clean towel or air dryer
Introduce a vitamin
If you think your child may need some extra support at any time, give them a vitamin. Airborne® Kids Immune Support Gummies include vitamin C to support immune function*. They come in two fruit flavors that kids will love, and the children may also enjoy the convenient format.
You should consult with a pediatrician before giving your child a new supplement.
A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be a chore; follow these tips and make it fun for all the family!
*THIS STATEMENT HAS NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THIS PRODUCT IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE OR PREVENT DISEASE.
 World Health Organization, “Children’s environmental health”. WHO, Undated, http://www.who.int/ceh/risks/en/
 Morgan Griffin, R., “Immunity-Boosting Snacks for Kids”. WebMD, 2013, https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/immune-system#1
 “Ways to Boost Your Immune System”. WebMD, 2017, https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/10-immune-system-busters-boosters#1
 Boston Public Health Commission, “Health Effects of Sugary Drinks”. BPHC, 2013, http://www.bphc.org/whatwedo/healthy-eating-active-living/sugar-smarts/be-sugar-smart/Pages/Health-Effects-of-Sugary-Drinks.aspx
 Shroff, A., “What do you want to drink?” WebMD, 2018, https://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/food/video/video-fit-makeover-what-to-drink
 Children’s Health Team, “5 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Immune System for Life”. Cleveland Clinic, 2017, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/want-boost-childs-immune-system-5-tips/
 National Sleep Foundation, “How Much Sleep Do Babies and Kids Need?” NSF, Undated, https://sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/how-much-sleep-do-babies-and-kids-need
 National Sleep Foundation, “Electronics in The Bedroom: Why It’s Necessary to Turn Off Before You Tuck In”. NSF, Undated, https://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the-expert/electronics-the-bedroom
 Mayo Clinic Staff, “Aerobic exercise: Top 10 reasons to get physical”. Mayo Clinic, 2017, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/aerobic-exercise/art-20045541
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “How much physical activity do children need?” CDC, 2017, https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/children/index.htm
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Show Me the Science - Why Wash Your Hands?” CDC, 2015, https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/why-handwashing.html
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Show Me the Science – How to Wash Your Hands”, CDC, 2015, https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/show-me-the-science-handwashing.html