The immune health of our children is top of mind as we move into cold and flu season. Having a strong immune system will mean our kids will be better able to ward off potential infections. And while we are all by now oh-so-familiar with protocols such as proper hand-washing and sneezing techniques, there are plenty other actions we can incorporate into our kids’ daily routines to bolster their’ immunity.

Make sure they get enough sleep and rest

Having a regular wind-down routine and set bedtime ― and nap times, if kids are younger ― helps set children’s body clocks, so they fall asleep easier. The Government of Canada recommends kids aged 5-13 get 9-11 hrs sleep each night.

Tips to try:

  • Keep bedtime the same on school nights, with a little leniency over the weekend when sleeping in might be an option.
  • Start the bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier, if necessary, to make ample time for soothing snuggles and reading.
  • Swap screen time for a warm bath ― children benefit from aromatherapy too. Try a kid-friendly formulation like the Honest Company Bubble Bath Lavender Dream to help them relax.
  • For kids who have a particularly hard time getting out of bed in the morning (we can relate!), invest in a sunrise-simulating alarm clock like this SmartSleep Sleep and Wake-Up light from Phillips. The realistic soft sunrise glow will fill their room slowly, allowing their bodies to wake up naturally until an alarm goes off at a designated time.

Ensure they eat a balanced diet

Healthy eating is important year round, but particularly as we head into cold and flu season. Steer kids away from processed foods that have little nutritional value and instead offer them whole foods in a variety of colours. Kids of all ages should avoid sugary drink choices like pop (their dentist will thank you!), and they should hydrate, hydrate, hydrate with H2O.

Tips to try:

  • Invite your child to add his or her favourite berries to a carafe of water.
  • Have kids select from a variety of fruit and veggie options at each meal.
  • Make eating fun: Use mini cookie cutters to cut shapes in watermelons, cucumbers and other softer produce items.
  • Balance treats and healthy choices. For example, you could toss a handful of chocolate chips onto waffles topped with a one ingredient nut butter and garnish with a sprinkle of nutrient-dense chia seeds. Get creative!
  • Experiment in the kitchen. If raw cauliflower wasn’t getting rave reviews from your offspring, try roasting it or coating it in breadcrumbs before cooking it instead.

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Limit their exposure to stress

When our kids are constantly anxious, (particularly if they’re privy to the 2020 news cycle), it impacts them emotionally and energetically. Kids can actually start to feel worn down as result of this negative impact on their immune system. While it’s important to stay informed and follow safety guidelines, creating a calm home environment for your kids is key.

Tips to try:

  • Have your kids help to pick out some fun masks and make sure there are always sanitizing supplies on hand, during the pandemic.
  • Practice mindful techniques, like deep breathing, not only in moments of stress but as part of a daily routine. That way your kids will automatically know how to calm themselves down.
  • Focus on gratitude. Our current reality can be scary and sad, but focusing on the things we are grateful for can help children shift their perspective and feel more hopeful.

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Have them get plenty exercise

Moving and expending energy every day is important for boosting the immune system. As indoor facilities shut down ― or operate at limited capacity ― parents are racking their brains to think of alternative ways for kids to stay fit. Thankfully outdoor activity is a healthy option.

Tips to try:

  • Enjoy a nature walk by taking your time to explore: Identify plants and animals and encourage your kids to jot down their findings in a nature journal.
  • Set up an outdoor scavenger hunt: Make a list of things that can be found outdoors (acorns, maple leaves, different types of bark) and let the games begin!
  • Throw a living room dance party. Kids can get in on the fun, choosing their favourite songs for the playlist!
  • Tune in to kid-friendly yoga livestreams or join your favourite activities via Zoom.

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Give them quality supplements

While a diet rich in whole foods will greatly contribute to their health and wellbeing, it can still be hard in winter for kids to get all the nutrients they need. Supplementation from trusted sources is important, as well as checking in with your healthcare practitioner to make sure you’re making educated choices for your family.

Tips to try:

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