*This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own*
Back to school means back to GERMS!! UGH!! No one likes the runny noses and upset tummies that seem to go hand in hand with the school year. While you cannot prevent ALL illness from entering your home, you can take a few of my tips to give your kiddos (and you) the best chance at avoiding some of the viruses that seem to be inevitable from September-June.
Keeping Your Kids Healthy Tip #1-WASH HANDS
Seriously. This is really one of my best tips. As an RN and a former public health nurse I can tell you this is really the best way to prevent the spread of germs and prevent YOU from getting sick. Plain old soap and water.
The rule at our house is you have to wash your hands every time you enter the house. This stemmed from having a newborn with four school-aged kiddos who wanted nothing more than to hold their baby sister the moment they walked in the door. NUH-UH, not gonna happen. Nowadays, the kids still wash their hands every time they come home, in addition to before meals and, it goes without saying–or at least it should–after using the bathroom!
Keeping Your Kids Healthy Tip #2–Hand Sanitizer
Yes, hand sanitizer. I put a small bottle in each of the kids’ lunch boxes and they use it before they eat lunch at school. I also have a couple of bottles in the car which the kids use right when they get in the car after school to help keep those school germs out of the house. Hand sanitizer is NOT a replacement for proper hand washing.
READ THE LABEL. You want an alcohol-based gel without added fragrance or glycerin if possible. You do not want an anti-bacterial gel as that can kill off the good bacteria on your hands. Plus most of those contain triclosan, which is under investigation for safety. The Center For Disease Control (CDC) recommends using a hand sanitizer containing AT LEAST 60% alcohol. Personally, I prefer Purell® as it contains 70% alcohol and therefore gets rid of more of the common germs that make you sick (cold, flu..etc).
Keeping Your Kids Healthy Tip #3–Fresh Fruit and Veggies
This might go without saying but diet is so important for immunity. Proper nutrition is essential when trying to keep your kiddos healthy–especially during cold and flu season. I swear by fresh fruits and veggies. I used to pack the kids those prepackaged fruits in their lunches. However, after reading several articles a few years ago on the benefits to fresh fruit, I switched exclusively to fresh fruit and noticed a HUGE difference in their immunity. Yes, it can get a bit pricy, especially in the winter months here in the midwest, but the way I see it, the money I spend on fresh fruit and veggies is money I am saving on doctor’s visits and medicines.
Some of our staples are strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and clementines. Darker fruits and veggies are better. Even swapping out your usual lunch fruit/veggie for fresh berries once or twice a week will make a difference.
Keeping Your Kids Healthy Tip #4–Vitamins
Okay, I’m not a huge advocate for vitamins. I feel that most people get the proper amount of vitamins if they follow a healthy diet–which my kiddos do. However, here in the midwest, the winter months are LONG and DARK. So during these months the kids take a multivitamin that contains Vitamin D3. VitaminD3 helps bodies absorb calcium, regulate metabolism, and most important for our purposes here –maintain immunity. According the the US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health recommends 600 IU of vitamin D3 daily for kids ages 1-18. You can find vitamin D3 supplements alone or in combination with other vitamins and minerals. I prefer animal parade gold, as it also contains probiotics……bringing us to our next tip
Keeping Kids Healthy Tip #5–Probiotics
Your gut is one of your first lines of defense against illness. If you are not taking a probiotic you should be. You can take a supplement, but just eating greek yogurt or drinking a serving of Kefir will do the trick. If you are reading labels on yogurt, look at the label for active cultures. The more the better when it comes to keeping your gut healthy. The added benefit to probiotics is that not only does it help with immunity, it can also help with mild digestive issues as well.
My secret weapon when it comes to belly blues–Tummy Tune Up. It is a concentrated probiotic that comes in capsule form. When my kids get an upset stomach, I empty two capsules into a little plain apple sauce and mix. They take that and sip on a glass of water–nine times out of ten, within 30 minutes they are feeling much better. I take Tummy Tune Up myself whenever I feel my stomach churning. “Knock on wood”–it always works.
Those are my top 5 tried and true tips for keeping kids healthy. What are some of your best hints for keeping germs away? I’d love to hear them below!