Go ahead and take a gander at why I’ve been MIA…. did my title give it away? Could I possibly need to boost my kid’s immune system already? Well yes, yes I do. Apparently, I didn’t do enough immune boosting before kindergarten started. So in less than two months, my son has missed five days of school! We’ve already had strep throat y’all, and it’s barely October! We just had our first cold front, and it’s not even flu season yet. What is happening?
The cool front did bring some seriously sunny, glorious weather to Austin, Texas but brutal allergens. So between the snot, my son out of school, and my laptop dying a painfully slow screen death, I’ve had my hands full. Don’t worry, I’ve been using my powers for good and got my Google degree on the immune system. Just in case you didn’t catch my sarcasm, Google would not give me a medical degree, so this is just my opinions and what my family is doing to fight the approaching winter funk.
Everyone said we would get sick a lot in kinder, but I’m already over it, and I’ve decided we’re not going down like that. So I did my research, and I’ve made a plan. Here’s exactly how I am going to boost my kid’s immune system and you can too.
SLEEP, EAT, PLAY, REPEAT
We know kids need a healthy diet, lots of playtime, sunshine, and sleep to stay healthy and fight illness. Sadly, most parents don’t realize how much sleep children actually need. The American Academy for Pediatrics says that children 3-5 years old should be sleeping 10-13 hours a night and children 6-12 years old should be sleeping 9-12 hours each night. That’s a lot of sleep. My son wakes up at 6:30am on school days so he has to be asleep by 8:30pm just to get the minimum sleep requirements for a 5-year-old. He personally, really needs more like 11 hours each night, that’s a 7:30 bedtime you guys. That’s not in bed at 7:30, that’s asleep by 7:30!
This is an area I’m failing in. Our nights are always different, and we love to make last minute plans. Like last Sunday, we skipped making dinner on time to take the dogs down to the lake for an impromptu skinny dip. Calm down, just the kids swam. I would never skinny dip before dark. ? We made it home late, and the kids had to shower and scarf down a picnic dinner (think healthy snacks chopped up on a plate) before bedtime. If my son needs to be asleep by 7:30, I missed the mark by an hour and a half. It’s time to make his sleep a priority. I have added alarms on my phone to keep our evenings on track. Sleep is too important to ignore.
VITAMINS & WATER
Right behind proper nutrition and adequate sleep, comes water and vitamins. I’ve started my kiddos on a children’s multivitamin and vitamin C. I’m hoping the vitamins fill in the gaps when I can’t get my babes to eat the proper whole foods. We’re always working on getting my people to eat a proper diet and it’s a constant battle!
I only allow my son to have one glass of milk a day, so the rest of the time my munchkins drink water. I send a 12-ounce thermos of water to school every day and aim for him to refill it once when we get home. Our goal for him is 24 ounces of water each day. Because everyone is different, it’s hard to say how much water a child needs but 24 ounces is over half of his body weight, so I figure better to have more than you need, than not enough. It’s easy to lose track of how much water your children have, so incorporate water into your daily routines!
I have always known gut health is important. As I’ve gotten older and especially fighting thrush when my daughter was a newborn, I’ve learned how vital it is to your health. But did you know that your immune system depends on the bacteria balance in your gut? There’s a ton of info out there on good and bad bacteria and the role it plays in your immune function. If you need the details, go ahead and get your Google on, then get your kiddos some probiotics.
Culturelle Kids is what our pediatrician recommended, and it has the most active cultures that I’ve seen in a children’s probiotic. I’ve learned the more active cultures, the better. Click the pic to order on Amazon, where I get mine. I sprinkle the packets into milk or stir into yogurt and my people never know! Added bonus, probiotics also fight yeast like nothing else! Get yourself one too!
This is a hard one for our family. While researching proper nutrition for the immune system, I read a lot about sugar. Of course, I know how bad sugar is for your body and I fight the sugar battle with my kids and the adults in their lives daily. Sugar is everywhere and added to everything. My kids adore ketchup, milk, yogurt, and deli meat, and guess what? All those foods have added sugar and that doesn’t even count the real desserts like the chocolate milk my son buys at school, the candy his music teacher rewards his class with, the cupcakes his grandmothers bring over or the treats we surprise him with.
Sugar has zero nutritional value, but more than that, it’s detrimental to your immune function. In fact, simple sugars can depress your immune system. Not exactly how I want to send my kiddos out into the world; sugared up and more susceptible to illnesses. This is an interesting article about the harmful effects of sugar. The sad part is that there is so much added sugar in our food that you can easily eat excessive amounts of sugar without realizing it, especially children.
I am making it my mission to limit the sugar in my kid’s diets. I’m reading labels, making more foods from scratch (the more processed the food, the more sugar and garbage it contains), educating my children on how food works to fuel their bodies and making treats truly special, not a daily occurrence.
These changes are going to be hard work. I’m sure I will be met with a lot of resistance and whining. But it’s my job as the mama to make the best possible choices for my children and our family. It’s my responsibility to teach my children healthy habits and create an environment in my their bodies that promote a highly functioning immune system. I’ve got to take action to get my son healthier so he can actually go to school. And I’m hoping if I implement these changes now, we might survive the cold and flu season a little stronger.
We’re on our annual fall road trip to Lake Havasu, so that means I’ve spent approximately 57 ga-billion hours in the car with two littles. Pray for me. I’ll be cracking down on these immune boosting ideas as soon as we resurface in Texas! Wish me luck and good luck to you mama!