Heading back to school is an exciting time for kids. New notebooks, a special first-day-of-school outfit, and a chance to see old friends and make new ones. But, lurking in the back of parents’ minds is the reality that the return to school means an increased exposure to germs, which can mean sick days for the whole family.
Kids are bound to fall ill every now and then during the school year, but there are measures you can take to help keep them as healthy as possible all year long. Read on for tips on illness prevention and what to do if your child does get sick.
One of the simplest tricks to staying healthy is proper hand-washing. As a parent, teaching your kids how to wash their hands properly can make a world of difference in avoiding illness. Both when and how we wash our hands is key. Be sure your children know to wash after using the bathroom, before and after eating, after blowing their nose, sneezing or coughing as well as after touching pets or animals. And be sure they know to wash all parts of their hands (not just their palms or fingers) with soap for at least 20 seconds. The CDC recommends that kids hum the tune of Happy Birthday while washing their hands to ensure they have spent sufficient time scrubbing.
Covering Your Mouth and Nose
Explain to your children that covering their mouth and nose anytime they need to sneeze or cough with the crease of their elbow can make a big difference in staying healthy at school. If every child in the class can remember this golden rule, far fewer germs are spread. And as mentioned above, if they do sneeze into their hands – handwashing is key.
A Daily Probiotic
Believe it or not, upwards of 70% of the immune system is housed in the gut, which means a healthy gut is foundational to fighting illness and staying healthy. Immune cells in the gut protect us and act as gatekeepers, determining what’s allowed to pass into the bloodstream and what isn’t.
Without a healthy balance of gut bacteria, immune system function can be dramatically compromised. One easy way to support your child’s gut and immune health is with a high-quality probiotic supplement. You can also try introducing fermented foods into their diet such as plain yogurt, unsweetened kefir and raw sauerkraut.
Healthy Foods at Home
Starting your kid’s day with a nutrient-dense breakfast that provides plenty of protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats is key for blood sugar regulation and creating the nutritional foundation for overall wellness.
Fresh veggies, fruits, proteins and good fats like avocado and nuts can go a long way in keeping your little one healthy. Avoid sending your children to school with snacks high in sugars and refined carbohydrates such as cookies, crackers and baked goods.
Plenty of Rest
Research shows that adequate rest makes a huge difference in how the body’s immune system functions. Getting your child on a sleep schedule that ensures they are getting adequate rest for their age is crucial for physical, mental and emotional health.
If your kiddo does come home from school sick, there are some simple ways to support healing. Continue with a probiotic to boost immunity, make sleep a priority, and make sure to given them nutritious, nourishing foods and plenty of water. Rest, time and lots of love is usually a fail-safe recipe for recovery.