The time has finally come…kids are back to school! As a mom of four little ones, I’m an emotional mess as my ‘babies’ are sent off to JK for their first day. They give me a kiss and run off without a look back, my older boys are also off running to see their friends after a ‘too short’ summer break. I stand on the sidewalk of the school with tears welling up in my eyes as all my fledglings have left the nest, and then a smile sweeps across my face…FREEDOM! Then, a most unexpected feeling washes through my body, worry…not for how my children’s days are going to unfold at school, but for what is waiting for them inside, exposure to viruses, bacteria, childhood illnesses, colds and flus, things they can’t even see.
It’s only a matter of weeks before you start hearing through the hordes of parents waiting for their children at pick-up that “Susie has a horrible cough”, and “Bobbie got the flu”. How can I be sure that these nasty bugs don’t infect my sweet little fledglings? I need to prepare their immune system for the oncoming battle.
Here are a few general tips for starting the school year off right:
- Plan Healthy Meals – make sure your kids eat healthy food at every meal. Protein will keep your kids full for longer and help maintain their energy and focus throughout the day. Some great examples for nut free lunches and snacks are, veggie sticks and hummus, rice crackers and bean dip, pumpkin seeds, cheese and crackers, Greek yogurt and even homemade oatmeal raisin cookies.
- Time to wind down – These days, kids schedules are filled with activities, sports, clubs and high expectations. Give your child time to unwind from school, even 10-15 minutes of quiet time to relieve stress and collect their thoughts and feelings from the day will help them cope with some of the stress. Also, make sure your child has a t least 60 minutes of activity and exercise every day.
- Nighty, night…sleep right – set a sleep schedule for your children. According to the National Sleep Foundation, children are not getting enough sleep, as much as 2 hours short per night. Shut down electronics 1 hour before bedtime and get into a bedtime routine of snacks, brushing teeth and reading.
- Pump up their immune system – in order to fight off the onslaught of bugs that our kids are subjected to daily, they need to know the importance of regular, and proper hand washing. Also, we need to send our children into school with an immune system capable of fighting for itself. I have compiled a list of supplements that will help your child to combat the common colds and flus that await them at school:
- Vitamin D3 is anti-viral – child dose is 400-800IU daily
- N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is anti-viral and mucolytic – child dose is 900-1800mg daily
- Probiotics are proven to prevent colds, flus and upper respiratory infections. They also decrease the severity and duration of colds and flus.
- Infants use HMF Natren – 1 scoop daily
- Child over 2 yrs use Culturelle – 1-2 daily, or Healthy Starter Kit – 1 cap from each bottle daily
- Echinacea increases the effectiveness of the immune system
- UNDA Echinsyr – child uses 1tsp 2X/day
- IM Matrix – child dose is 2 caps daily
- Deep Immune Kids – child dose is 20-45 drops daily
- Vitamin C is antiviral and mucolytic – child dose is 15mg/kg 3X/day
*These suggestions are most effective when put together in a plan, by your naturopath, for your child, as part of their daily health care regime.
By using just a few of these suggested ‘tools’ to help boost your child’s immune system, you can at least have some comfort that when the masses run out the school doors full of runny noses and colds, that your little ones bodies are already fighting the battle, and that their sick days will be greatly reduced.
Dr. Danielle O’Connor, ND Natural Care Clinic