Before I had kids I rarely went to the doctors. I wasn’t a regular at the chemist either, and now I am a “frequent flyer” at both. Having four kids brings with it, among many trips to the shoe shop, many trips to the doctors. Lately I feel like I’ve spent more time at the local medical clinic than at home. The kids have experienced multiple ear infections, a nasty viral tummy bug, warts (yuk!) and molluscum (also yuk!).
In Melbourne we are seeing the first signs of winter – the season of dread. Conversation at the school gate has turned to runny noses and tummy bugs, and the dreaded gastro is doing the rounds. In the last two weeks of term I had a sick child home from school eight days in a row! Luckily the school holidays are providing time for rest. I am determined boost my kids’ immune systems and and keep them healthy for Term 2. Here are my top six tips to keep your kids healthy.
Tips to keep your kids healthy
Make Sure They Get Enough Sleep
I am a huge believer in the importance of sufficient sleep. Sleep is important for the whole family since it helps set our metabolism and resets our mood. Getting enough sleep is especially important for kids because it helps them grow. Plus, it helps the body recover quickly from illness or fight off infections.
Many of you know that my seven-year-old suffers from nighttime anxiety. This anxiety interferes with her sleep so we have tried a number of “calming down” activities such as breathing exercises, magnesium (spray or Epson salts in the bath) essential oils (lavender) and lots of cuddles in bed.
This is a no brainer, really, but getting them to eat healthy food can be a challenge. I have found that instead of telling children to eat healthy foods, explaining to them why it is important has more of an impact. If they know that certain foods will make them taller and bones stronger, they will want to eat them. I am forever banging on about “brain food” and consequently my girls have developed quite the taste for oily fish such as tuna and even sardines!
Not everyone likes the same food in our family (sound familiar?) so I have to vary it quite a bit. Fortunately they all enjoy a healthy lunch. I ensure their lunchboxes are packed with a wholegrain wrap (salad) fruit, vegetables and hummus, protein like cheese and lean mean and a little “healthy fat” like avocado.
A child’s brain is composed of 80% water, so staying hydrated is particularly important for optimal cognitive development. I have one child who isn’t great at remembering to drink water, so I am forever reminding her. Explain the importance of H2O to your kids and teach your child to look at their urine to make sure it is more clear than yellow. If they spot yellow, then they should grab a big glass of water.
Limit Sugar Intake
I take the “anything in moderation” approach to most things relating to parenting, and food is no exception. I tend to adopt the 80/20 rule and my girls are allowed occasional treats. But sugar just has this habit of sneaking into their diets more than it should. I am making a big effort to minimise the amount of sugar they consume in a bid to keep their health in check. Sugar interferes with the body’s immune system by binding up the antibodies that the immune system needs to fight viruses. A child who’s eating a high sugar diet is going to get sick more often. Right now we are implementing SFD’s (Sugar Free Days) in our family, and it’s working a “treat”.
In Australia it is recommended that kids aged 5-12 need to do at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, but can benefit from up to several hours of physical activity over the course of each day. We walk to and from school daily, and they do lots of running at school, not to mention ballet and swimming once a week. But in the holidays, especially in the colder months, it can be hard to coax them outdoors. Parks are not my favourite place in the world, but I do enjoy nature trails and getting them out on their bikes and scooters.
Gut health is SO important and so recently I’ve introduced a probiotic into my girls’ diets. They see, very susceptible to tummy troubles and since taking a probiotic we’ve noticed a difference. Also, I am ensuring they get enough fibre and waters in their diets as we all know constipation can cause tummy pains and it’s the first question doctors ask when a child presents with tummy pains!
*This post was brought to you in partnership with Blackmores Health.
Do your kids get sick very often? What tips do you have to keep your kids healthy? Any advice?