Summer is coming to an end and the list of things we have to get done before the new school year is getting longer and longer. School supplies, new clothes, immunization forms, carpool arrangements, and after school activities, the list goes on and on. As parents, we can quickly become overwhelmed with the stress of the transition back to school. Then the anxiety sets in about how they are going to adjust physically and emotionally to the challenges of a new school year. As we prepare them for school, we often don't think of how to prepare their immune systems. I know what you are thinking, another thing to worry about. This list is actually a very simple but important guide to keeping our children healthy during the new school year. As the children return to school and share their tales of summer fun, they also share viruses and bacteria. Implementing a few simple rules can really help build your child's immune system and keep him or her healthy during the school year.
A Good Night's Sleep.
Sleep is extremely important to maintaining good health and strong immunity. When our children are run down and tired, they become more vulnerable to becoming sick. School aged children need up to 11 hours of sleep. Preschoolers need a total of 13 hours of sleep per day. As we approach the last few weeks of summer, it is time to start to prepare our little ones for the up and coming school year. The summer months of late night bedtimes and no schedules can make back to school a difficult transition, especially for toddlers. So start early. Begin to slowly have your child go to bed earlier. We recommend starting bedtime preparation 15 minutes earlier each week for the month of August. This will help to accomplish a more seamless transition.
Noshing on a Healthy Diet.
A well balanced diet is the key to a healthy school year. Certain fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients such as vitamin C and carotenoids, which can help to boost your child's immune system. Strawberries, blueberries, oranges, green beans, and carrots contain antioxidants and phytonutrients that can help to increase your child's production of infection-fighting white blood cells and interferons which will help them fight off illness. Use these last few weeks of summer to try new things! Let them go to the store with you and pick out their own snacks for the upcoming school year. Allowing them to become involved in their own diet will motivate them to try new things.
Teach them Hand Washing.
The research has shown that the most effective way to prevent the spread of illness is to wash our hands. Good hand washing habits start at home. Make sure your kids wash their hands often and with soap. They need to understand the importance of clean hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and arriving home from school. If the school allows it, have your child carry disposable wipes in their backpack for quick cleanups. It is equally important to teach your child that if they are sick, they must cover their mouth before sneezing or coughing. Good hygiene is the key to decreasing the spread of germs in the classroom.
The Healing Power of Elderberry.
A lot of parents struggle with illness when their child first goes to school. Parents are always asking me if there is any supplement they can give their child to help prevent illness. Although there is no magic medicine to help prevent illness, elderberry has been used since the ancient times to help promote immunity and alleviate symptoms of the common cold. This can be used similar to a daily vitamin. There are many ways to incorporate this natural supplement into your child's diet. I love the idea of making an elderberry syrup for pancakes and waffles. Please remember there are contradictions and limitations to elderberry syrup so it is imperative that you discuss with your doctor whether it is appropriate for your child to start taking this supplement. Children under the age of 1 should not take elderberry. Please make sure your doctor goes over the appropriate dosing with you.