The time of year that (some) kids dread and parents celebrate, has finally arrived. Once children head back to school, the house becomes a little more quiet throughout the day and parents can finally start to get things done. The trade off, however, is the increased chance of children getting sick now that they are sharing germs back and forth at school. Though this past summer was slightly more disease-ridden than usual, there is bound to be an increase in illness with children back in school. Therefore, the question that every parent asks is: How do I boost my child’s immune system to keep them from getting sick?
Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or supplement that will keep children from getting sick. Yet there are several strategies for keeping our bodies healthy that are important to remember as children return to school. Proper hand hygiene is one of the most basic and pertinent strategies for reducing illness. We carry thousands of germs on our hands that can enter our bodies through the mucus membranes in our eyes, nose, and mouth. This is the reason it is important to avoid touching these areas especially before washing your hands. Children should practice the proper technique of washing hands as well. After wetting the hands, lather them with soap and scrub for 20 seconds before rinsing and drying. You may have heard singing “Happy Birthday” twice usually equals 20 seconds. Tired of hearing that one over and over? Here are a few new song ideas to keep them entertained while they sing along:
- Chorus of Baby Shark: We know they’ll sing along to this one.
- The Alphabet Song: What better way to practice their A, B, C’s while also practicing proper hygiene?
- Chorus of Let It Go from everyone’s favorite, Frozen
- Row, Row, Row Your Boat: Changing the words to “Wash, wash, wash your hands, make them nice and clean” is a great way to switch it up from time to time.
- If You’re Happy and You Know It: Changing the words to “If you’re happy and you know it, wash your hands” is a great way to change up a classic tune for all ages!
Illness can be avoided with sufficient hand hygiene practices.
Adequate nutrition and hydration supplies the body with the necessary tools to keep the immune system supported and strong enough to fight off infections. There are no specific foods that have been proven to strengthen the immune system. Rather, a diet consisting of a wide variety of foods provides the body with sufficient amounts of important vitamins and minerals which in turn will boost our body’s infection-fighting ability. Principal categories of foods to include in our diet are fruits, vegetables, lean or plant-based proteins, and whole grains. Water consumption is equally as important to securing a robust immune system. Our bodies must be properly hydrated in order to function well and maintain balance within our muscles, tissues, and organs. Children need at least 8 cups of water or more daily. Daily water consumption can come from fluids that we drink but also the foods that we eat such as watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, cucumbers, etc. These foods will not only increase our fluid intake but are also a great source of vitamins and minerals.
Exercise is another vital part of staying healthy. Physical activity can increase the blood flowing throughout our body which keeps our infection-fighting cells ready and available to battle disease. Children should participate in at least 1 hour of activity daily. Lastly, an adequate amount of sleep can rejuvenate the body so that it is prepared and able to withstand the many illnesses that we encounter throughout the year. The recommended amount of sleep is between 8-10 hours per night.
Illness and disease will always be present in the community. Therefore, it is important to keep our bodies in good shape with proper hand washing and adequate nutrition, hydration, physical activity, and sleep. This gives our bodies a better chance at fighting off infections and, in the end, keeps us healthy and keeps our community healthy as well.