Cough. Sneeze. Sniffle.
With colder temperatures come seasonal sicknesses – but you can stay ahead of them by building your child’s immune system.
While there’s no way to guarantee your child won’t catch a cold, strep throat, the flu, or another illness this winter, there are many things you can do to boost their immune system and help them stay as healthy as possible.
Getting Enough Sleep
We all need sleep to refresh and recharge our bodies, including children. The amount of sleep a child needs each day varies by age:
- Infants– 12-16 hours
- Toddlers (1-2) – 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5) – 10-13 hours
- Grade-school children (6-12) – 9-12 hours
- Teens (13-18) – 8-10 hours
Ensuring that your child gets enough ZZZZs can be challenging, especially during holiday break when family schedules are off-kilter. You can encourage healthy sleep by sticking to a regular bedtime whenever possible. Turn off all screens, phones, and other electronic devices an hour or two before bedtime as well.
Eating a Healthy Diet
Again, this is often easier said than done. But one of the best ways to boost your child’s immune system is to provide them with nutritious snacks and meals.
While many supplements claim to boost immunity (such as vitamin D or zinc), none take the place of a healthy diet. In fact, many of their benefits can be found in healthy foods – for example, proteins, beans, and nuts are all natural sources of zinc.
Aim for your child’s diet to include:
- Lots of fruits and vegetables – Experts recommend that children eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Make them colorful! Red, orange, yellow, and green produce contain phytonutrients that help protect against chronic disease.
- Lean meat and other healthy proteins – Poultry, fish, eggs, beans, and nuts are excellent choices (as long as your child is not allergic).
- Whole grains – Whole-grain breads, crackers, and cereal without added sugar help ensure that your child gets enough fiber in their diet.
- Low-fat or nonfat dairy products – Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products contain the calcium your child needs to stay healthy and grow strong bones.
- Healthy fats – Foods like avocados, fish, and nuts contain healthy fats that promote good health.
If you have a child who is a picky eater or refuses vegetables and other healthy foods, ask your pediatrician if supplements are a viable option.
Just say no to Excessive video streaming and gaming marathons! Staying active also helps boost your child’s immune system, making them less likely to get sick during cold and flu season.
“Active” doesn’t have to mean going to the gym or playing a sport. Take your child for a walk, go to the playground, or do a fun aerobic activity (such as playing tag or a hula-hoop contest) as a family. Your child should be active for at least one hour per day.
Washing Hands and Other Good Hygiene
Everyone in the family, including children, can take simple precautions to stay healthy:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
- Never touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands first
- Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue or your elbow
- Stay away from anyone who is sick
- Avoid hugging, kissing, or shaking hands with others
It’s especially important to continue these habits after your child returns to school, where germs are even more likely to spread.
Keeping Current on Vaccines
A child’s immune system is not fully developed until they are eight years old, which means babies and young children are at greater risk of getting sick.
Vaccines boost your child’s immune system by helping it learn how to defend against different types of germs. Following the recommended vaccine schedule can protect your child from serious illnesses like measles, whooping cough, and many others as they grow.
The flu shot is also recommended yearly for children six months of age or older.
TrustCare Kids Is Here for You
At TrustCare Kids, our goal is to help your child Feel Better Faster® all year long.
TrustCare Kids offers pediatric primary care and urgent care from birth through college. Because kids often get sick beyond regular business hours, our pediatricians are available for weeknight and weekend care. Services include:
- Sick and well-child visits
- Vaccines and immunizations
- Flu, RSV, and COVID-19 testing
- School, sports, and camp physicals
- And more
We can help keep seasonal sicknesses at bay! Schedule an appointment with TrustCare Kids now.