How To Keep Your Kid’s' Immunity Strong
Has the last year got you thinking even more about your child's health and immunity? Us too, and as the weather warms up, the coronavirus vaccine rolls out, and more people are venturing from the house, we are ready to rejoin the world in the safest way possible. That's why Good Buy Gear tapped into the expertise of Dr. Anne Hawkins of Harpeth Pediatrics to answer some burning questions us as parents have about how we can help our kids stay healthy.
"Although this year has been incredibly difficult and overwhelming for everyone due to the coronavirus pandemic, children are amazingly resilient," says Dr. Hawkins. That said, she suggests that, "The best way to boost your child’s immune system is by getting back to the basics with a healthy diet, a healthy sleep routine, regular exercise, good hand washing and avoiding harmful exposures such as second-hand smoke."
In fact, the doctor says to skip the extra vitamins and instead rely on classic methods to keep kids healthy and immunity up. Read on for more tips from Dr. Hawkins on this subject. A lot of the answers are simpler than you may think.
Sleep Is Important
Ever since we were little kids ourselves the concept of sleep being good for the body and brain has been drilled into us. Our mothers weren't wrong, and neither are you when you tell your little one they need a good night's sleep.
"Sleep is our natural way to repair and restore the body," says Dr. Hawkins, adding that in general, infants need around 16 hours of sleep daily, and toddlers and preschoolers need between 10 to 14 hours each day. "Sleep deprivation can make your child more susceptible to illness because of a reduction in infection fighting cells."
She suggests establishing a regular sleep routine that includes a safe sleeping environment. This starts with a comfortable bed, whether that's a crib, toddler-sized set up or twin bed. Procuring a good bed or crib isn't hard, there are plenty of great quality options such as the Million Dollar Baby Classic 4-in-1 Convertible Crib for around $215 (retails for $400) and the Delta Children 4-in-1 Crib for around $63 (retails for $175). And of course, you need cozy sheets for whatever bed or crib you pick out.
Another way to secure a safe sleep space is to put in a bed rail for younger kids when they move to a "big kid" bed. Good Buy Gear carries an array of gently-used and open-box options such as the Regalo Hide-Away Bed Rail for around $9.99 (retails for $33) and the ComfyBumpy Bed Rail for $38 (retails for $50). You can also set the space for sleep success with blackout curtains to block the sunlight and for some kids, a noise machine helps a lot too.
Think About Food
As many of us are aware, food is important. Yes, some days are more of an anything-goes sort of meal, but in general, it's good to try and feed yourself and your kids healthy and balanced breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
"When offering a child a wide variety of all food groups with a full range of colors, you will be providing your child appropriate levels of the vitamins and minerals they need to have a healthy immune system," Dr. Hawkins told us, adding that fruits and vegetables really do provide nutrients that can help fight acute infections as well as prevent chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. "It is also important to include foods that contain calcium and vitamin D as well as healthy polyunsaturated fats to promote growth and brain development."
For babies, she says, "Breastfeeding can be a great way to lay the foundation for a healthy immune system since breast milk is full of maternal infection fighting antibodies that help lower the baby’s risk for infections such as diarrhea, pneumonia, meningitis as well as lowering his/her risk for allergies."
Breast pumps can really help moms get the most out of their breast milk supply, and extra can be kept for later use in the freezer. That said, formula feeding can offer parents support when they need it. It’s important to note that you never need to be all in on one side—combo feeding is a beautiful solution too. There’s no right or wrong way to feed your baby, it’s personal and depends on the needs of your family.
"Getting regular exercise has been shown to improve the ability to fight infection in adults and this holds true in children as well," says Dr. Hawkins. "Exercising as a family can help build good routines as a child that can continue into adulthood."
For younger kids, says Dr. Hawkins, playing is such a vital part of their learning process and helps children build relationships with others, learn how to organize as well as manage emotional stressors. Stress, she adds, lowers our immunity. With older children Dr. Hawkins recommends regular cardiovascular exercise, which, she says, is important to reduce their risk of obesity or heart disease in adulthood. And again, this type of movement limits stress.
Great ways to get said exercise aside from running around the park or back yard include playing with a jump roping, games of catch or tag, a hula hoop and more. If looking to work off energy and stay active inside, consider a small trampoline or the Playskool Sit 'n Spin.
Get Good Gear
Good Buy Gear carries plenty gently-used and open-box baby gear items that can also help in the quest to stay healthy. For example, when shopping in a store, use a cloth cover over the shopping cart. This allows sticky fingers to roam all over, including in their mouth because, let's face it, they always end up there, without fear of germs spreading.
Don't forget about a well-stocked diaper bag either. Fill this handy sack not only with baby necessities, but sanitation wipes, hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray. Older kids could bring along a kid-friendly tablet, a device that helps them focus on something stationary instead of touching everything.
Kids and the Coronavirus
"Thankfully the data has shown that children are at very low risk for severe disease or death from coronavirus," says Dr. Hawkins, who adds that mask-wearing and washing hands are still important ways to reduce the risk for infection. "It is equally important to maintain the social and emotional connections with others for their mental health," she advises. "Having small groups to play with on a regular basis can be a safe way to keep the connection."
Make sure to maintain some normal routines for your children, especially for older kids. Immunity is built up not only by the aforementioned things, but by lowering stressors and curbing depression. This pandemic has been hard on everyone, and while the majority of children don't get sick from the coronavirus, they still suffer in other ways. That's why we need to make sure they are active, happy, healthy and loved, now and always.