Here are 6 things you can start doing today to keep your little ones healthy throughout the Winter Season.

Keeping your kids healthy throughout the flu season seems like an impossible task with them being exposed to so many people in their busy schedules.  There is daycare, school, after school activities, indoor playgrounds, and the never ending birthday parties but it can be done with a little vigilance.

Decreasing colds, flus and stomach flus means less time away from their favourite activities and school.  Not to mention no one likes to see their kids suffer.

1. Wash their hands and encourage them to wash their own hands even when you are not around to police:

  • This may seem overstated or obvious but it is the most important tip because it can protect you and your kids from all sorts of diseases.  Washing their hands frequently and at least for 20 seconds with hot soapy water will destroy most viruses so that when they rub their eyes or eat their sandwich, they are less likely to get infected.  AND get rid of the antibacterial soap from your home.

2. Eat Immune-Enhancing Foods:

  • Vitamin C is definitely a cold-fighter, so eating foods high in Vitamin C such as berries, oranges and other citrus foods is beneficial.  If it is difficult getting citrus fruits into them then a chewable Vitamin C is a great option too.  Some other foods that also boost their immune system are garlic, yogurt, and most fruits and vegetables.  Make sure you get a variety of colors in your fruits and vegetables.  Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables are also known to boost your immune system.

3. Get Outside and soak in the Sun:

  • Winter is the hardest time to get kids to go outside but it can be very beneficial.  Trying to spend some time outside on a daily basis will help with their immune system and will have the added benefit of getting Vitamin D.  Most Canadians are deficient in Vitamin D and research has shown that this “Sunshine Vitamin” can help boost the whole family’s immune system and decrease colds and flus and their duration.

4. Getting Enough Sleep:

  • Getting the little ones into bed even ½ hour earlier each night can be of great benefit.  They don’t need to sleep ½ hr earlier but being in bed and relaxing can help the immune system function optimally the next day!

5. Decreasing Activities in the Winter Months:

  • This one is related to the last point.  If you notice your kids are complaining of being tired or having difficulty waking up in the morning or just being cranky it might mean they are doing too much.  Kids need time to do nothing and that helps them to stay healthy.  If you notice this then just cut down their activities for a short period of time until they recuperate.  These all might be subtle signs that your little one is getting sick or fighting something.

6. Keep their Immune System Sharp:

  • Having their immune system on high alert, especially if they are prone to colds and flus, is a good idea throughout the season.  The flu shot doesn’t do this, all it does is prime your immune system to remember a specific strain of the flu virus.  But for broader protection, consider supplements such as Echinacea or Elderberries that give their immune system a head start.

image1Dr. Zarlashta Popal ND is a Naturopathic Doctor who has been practicing since 2004 and has been with Maple Health Care and Rehab since 2009.  She is a mother of three young kids who knows how difficult it can be to keep the little ones healthy.  She has a special focus in Women’s Health and Pediatrics.

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