The start of another school year is just around the corner, and with it comes shiny new notebooks, backpacks, and clothes for those ever-growing bodies. Aside from perhaps feeling a bit sentimental as you contemplate just how quickly your little ones are growing up, what isn’t quite so touching is all the germs they are sure to encounter.
Fortunately, there are several ways to keep your entire family as healthy as possible this year. Kids will get sick (especially in a school environment), but there are some easy and effective methods to keep illnesses to a minimum. Here are six back to school health tips for you and your kids.
Plenty of Rest and Early Bedtimes
Kids can get agitated without adequate rest (like adults), but studies show that lack of sleep can also lower immune function. Depending on the age of your kids, they need eight hours of sleep, and many need more.
Coming out of summer can be a hard transition to earlier bedtimes, so it’s smart to make bedtimes earlier each night for two to three weeks before the start of school. This way, there’s not a sudden change in bedtime, and your kids will be physically and mentally more adjusted.
Same goes for early wake-ups. Begin waking your kids a little bit earlier each morning so that the first day of school isn’t a shock to the system.
Healthy Meals and Snacks
Nutritious foods are essential for staying healthy, and this goes for every member of the family. Research shows the link between healthy meals and improved academic performance. These healthy meals and snacks are also essential for immune function.
Shoot for half of your child’s meal consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, and try to incorporate as much variety and color as possible. Be sure also to get a serving of protein (deli sliced turkey or chicken, string cheese, plain yogurt, and natural peanut or almond butter are good choices). Stick to whole grain instead of white bread to ensure they get plenty of fiber and don’t suffer from energy dips and spikes.
Up to Date Vaccinations
Check in either with your school or your pediatrician to make sure every family member is up to date on their vaccinations before the start of school. Visit the CDC website for an easy-to-read immunization schedule.
Practice Good Hygiene Habits
Sometimes, it’s easy to overlook basic hygiene habits, but remember that germs are lurking in classrooms and school cafeterias. Teaching simple hand washing and other hygiene practices can make a huge difference.
Get your kids into the habit of washing their hands before meals and snacks and after using the bathroom. Advise them to avoid sharing foods and drinks with their classmates. You can also send them with a kid-friendly hand sanitizer, especially if they’ll be on a field trip or anywhere where hand washing isn’t possible.
Many kids today tend to be overscheduled, and (just like for adults) this can wear them down. To stay healthy both physically and mentally, allow your child time each day to simply be. This should be time to play quietly (without screens, preferably), read, nap, or do any other activity that is creative and unscheduled.
Have a Child-friendly Medicine Cabinet
Getting sick is sometimes unavoidable, so keep some natural remedies, OTCs, and food in your medicine cabinet. Our list of child-friendly products to have on hand include:
- Children’s daily vitamin. A children’s vitamin may be helpful if your child doesn’t enjoy eating their fruits and vegetables.
- Probiotics. Probiotics not only support healthy digestive function but have also been shown to play a major role in immune health.
- Emergen-C Kidz. Formulated for kids, this immune booster contains vitamin C, B vitamins, and electrolytes.
- DiaResQ. Children’s DiaResQ is food for special dietary use that safely relieves diarrhea by providing important nutrients to promote digestive health.
- Oral rehydrating solution. Replace lost fluids with an oral rehydrating solution. This could be Pedialyte, electrolyte powders, or a homemade solution.
Follow these back to school health tips to keep your entire family as healthy as possible, all year long. Have a happy and healthy school year!