If you have younger children, it may seem that they are constantly picking up colds and flus at this time of year. Children can pick up illnesses more easily than adults as their immune system develops. However, there are steps you can take to boost your child’s immunity and make them less susceptible to picking up that nasty bug.
Keep little hands clean:
Regular washing of hands is the best way to prevent the spread of germs. Encourage your little ones to wash their hands throughout the day; after the toilet, after sneezing or coughing, coming home from a public place, and before cooking or eating. Hands that aren’t properly sanitised can spread germs by touching the nose, eyes, and mouth.
Hand sanitizers are helpful when you are out and about, but the best way to remove germs is to wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
Encourage plenty of sleep:
Sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system and make kids more susceptible to picking up illnesses. Children usually need between 9 and 14 hours of sleep per night, depending on their age.
Did you know? During sleep, our immune system releases proteins called ‘cytokines’, which fight infection and inflammation. If we don’t get enough sleep, cytokine production is limited and can lower our immune system, leaving our bodies less equipped to fight infection.
Your child’s immunity protects them from disease, and their lifestyle could impact their response to a cold or flu. Studies show that regular exercise boosts the immune system and supports good health. Exercise improves blood flow, which allows cells and immune system matter to flow more freely throughout the body. School-age children should get about 60 minutes of exercise every day.
Watch out for stress levels:
Stress can raise cortisol levels in the body, which can significantly weaken the immune system, increasing the chance of a child picking up a cold or flu. Keep an eye out for signs of stress like mood changes, sleep pattern disruptions, stomach aches, or other changes in behaviour. Spend time listening to their worries and help them learn healthy ways to manage stress.
Up the fruit and vegetable intake:
Colourful meals that are packed with fruit and veg are also packed with the vitamins and minerals needed to keep your child healthy. Fueling your child's body with proper nutrition can set them up to fight off illnesses.
Consider a children’s probiotic supplement:
A probiotic is an active culture of healthy bacteria that strengthens a child's gut microbiome, boosting their immunity.
Find out more: Can probiotics help my child’s immunity?
If your child is susceptible to picking up illnesses, they may have recently been prescribed a course of antibiotics. Whilst antibiotics are necessary to treat some illnesses, they wipe out all of the bacteria in the gut microbiome, both good and bad. A probiotic supplement can replenish the good bacteria in the gut and, in turn, build back up a child’s immunity. Probiotics can also help to prevent other common childhood conditions, including colic, allergies, urinary tract infections, eczema, and digestive issues.
To learn more about our current Children’s common cold study or to apply to take part, click here.