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Boosting your kid's immune system for a healthier holiday season

12-07-2017

This time of year, life is busy. The craziness of the season can take a toll on the immune system, so it’s no coincidence that kids often bring home nasty colds right around the holidays. Schools are a hotbed for germs, and if there’s one thing that kids are good at sharing, it’s germs.

From the classroom to the cafeteria and bathrooms, germs are lurking everywhere. It’s important to take precautions while your child’s immune system is developing. Here are some tips on how to boost your child’s immune system, so you and your family can enjoy the holiday break sniffle-free.

It comes as no surprise that sleep is important to children in their developmental years. But how important is it? Sleep promotes growth and heart health and can increase your child’s attention span. During sleep the body produces proteins called cytokines that help fight infections. Recommended nightly hours of sleep vary by age:

Ages 3-5: between 10 and 13 hours of sleep

Ages 6-13: between 9 and 11 hours of sleep

Ages 14-18: between 8 and 10 hours of sleep

Encouraging kids to wash their hands is an easy way to reduce the spread of germs. Studies show that when it comes to children, only 8% of boys and 33% of girls use soap. Teaching them to use soap and wash their hands for at least 20 seconds is an important step to keeping them healthy. Also, teach your children to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with their fingers as this is a common way that children catch viral and bacterial infections.

Changes in your child’s routine, like holiday busyness, can cause stress which may weaken his or her immune system.

“Stress in children is more common that most people think and can cause changes in appetite, headaches, stomach aches, and bedwetting,” says Dr. Ellen Davis, CaroMont Pediatric Partners - Gastonia. “That’s why it’s important to create consistency, especially with healthy snacking and bedtime routines.”

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to make sure your child is performing at his or her best—and a balanced diet is a great place to start. A diet full of fruits, vegetables and protein promotes a healthy immune system, helps organs and tissues work effectively and keeps the mind sharp.

The average child gets between six and ten colds a year, so don’t blame yourself when they do get sick. Their immune system is still developing, and getting colds actually helps to strengthen it. Be careful not to be the cause of germs spreading in your child’s school; keep them home when they are under the weather and especially if they have had a fever in the past 24 hours.

Visit the doctor when your child is sick to get a correct diagnosis. Treating your child’s illness properly can help lessen the severity and stop the spread of germs.