'Tis the Season for Weakened Immune Systems
As the weather gets colder and the air gets drier, germs start to multiply. There are so many things going on at this time of year that can weaken your kids' immune systems and make our little ones so much more susceptible to getting sick:
- Less sleep. With Halloween followed by American Thanksgiving and then all the excitement that Christmas brings, our little ones are often getting less than ideal levels of sleep. This can compromise their little immune systems and make them more susceptible to getting sick.
- Halloween! Kids don't just get candy on Halloween night anymore—they're getting candy all through the month of October. Never mind that, as parents, it's hard to enter a store right now without practically running into a display of candy. All this extra sugar that the kids are ingesting right now can have a HUGE impact on their immune systems.
- Nutrition. With all the extra candy the kids are eating right now, it's likely that they aren't eating quite as many fruits and vegetables as they normally do. I know my kids aren't reaching for their apple and cucumber slices after school when they've been given a piece of candy from their teacher! This lack of good nutrients can take a toll on your kids' immune systems, too!
How to Keep Your Kids Healthy
With all the sabotage of your kids' immune systems going on this season, as parents, what can we do to keep our kids healthy?
- Make sure the food you do give your kids at mealtimes is dense in nutrients. My kids both love pasta, so I make a homemade pasta sauce for them (add 1 jar of tinned crushed tomatoes to some sautéed onion and garlic; add in some diced carrots, broccoli, and peppers; simmer till all the vegetables are soft; then puree). They love their dinner and don't even realize how many extra veggies they're eating! Another great way to get lots of different vitamins into your kids is by making them a smoothie as a breakfast or after-school treat.
- Turns out your grandma was right—chicken soup really does cure everything! Turns out chicken soup is good for you and your kids' immune systems for lots of reasons. Now you just have to get it into your kids. One of my kids will eat chicken noodle soup, no problem. The other one, not so much. So I toss in lots of noodles when I make them soup, and I just give one more noodles than broth. Give the kids a side dish with a bit of shredded cheese next to it, and I'm sure they'll gobble it right up!
- Hand washing! I have a rule in our house now: Whenever you come inside, you wash your hands. You can teach your kids to sing "Happy Birthday" or the chorus to their favorite pop song to encourage them to wash their hands for a little bit longer to really get all the germs off! Remember, when the kids see you following your own rule, they'll be even more encouraged to follow along, too!
But Most of All: Limited Sugar and Lots of Sleep
I know it's really, really hard, but the best things you can do this fall to make sure your kids stay healthy are to:
- Limit their sugar intake. Have your kids choose 1 treat to have per day. Sometimes I have the kids pick out a treat before school to set out on the counter so that they know they have a treat waiting for them at home. Once they've had their one treat, offer fruit and veggies when they start asking for snacks!
- Try to make sure they get all the sleep they need! Don't overdo it on the Halloween parties or other festive events. All those extra hours the kids spend staying up at night may come back to haunt you as days home from school with a cold!
These simple tips have worked for me and have really helped me limit the number of bugs my kids get during this busy, festive, fall season!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.