12 Best Ways to Boost your Kids Immunity
As society starts to get back to this new state of normal, the inevitable is that there will continue to be cases of Covid-19 for a while. We know now that there’s no exact end-date to this pandemic. The very best we can do is keep ourselves as healthy as possible. The hard part is we can always feel what is going on with our own bodies but it’s so hard to know what’s happening with our little ones on the inside. Keeping them safe and healthy is at the top of the list over the next couple of months as we all emerge from our homes more and more. And so, I decided it would be a good time to put together a list of the 12 best ways to boost your kids’ immunity.
There are a lot of great immunity-building supplements for adults, but with kids, it gets tricky. We can’t just load them up with supplements since their little digestive systems can’t really handle that kind of thing yet. So what can we do? We can go at it with the angle of food, drinks, and good hygiene. I know we have all seen a million videos on washing hands and social distancing so don’t worry…I’m giving you a list that goes beyond those practices we all already know. Let’s break it down into those three categories, starting with the top immunity-boosting ways to get your kids the right food they need.
Diet is So Important!
When we hear about getting ‘good greens’ into our kids’ diets, that is much easier said than done! And those ‘good greens’ tend to be the ones they hate. Of course, right? My list of foods does not include these greens because you all know what they are already. Broccoli, spinach, and kale are at the top of our ‘I’ll get you to eat this’ mommy goals. What I will do is give you a trick to get these super greens into those little bellies easier. The trick is French Toast. Yes. That’s right, the yummy sweet breakfast every kid can’t say no to. But instead…you say ‘we’re having french toast for dinner!’
Take all those super greens, chop them up as finely as humanly possible, mix them in with the eggs, and you have Super French Toast. I have successfully hidden mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, spinach, and all the other greens into this special supper. And if you want to save it for lunch, you can chill it and cut it into french toast fingers for an easy-to-go lunch solution or snack! Okay – now that you have that new little trick under your sleeve, let’s get to the other good stuff.
Although it can be hard to get kids to like garlic, it is a very important element in boosting their immune system. Garlic is globally known for its medicinal properties. But here in the US, we usually just associate it with a nice tasting pasta sauce. Most of the health benefits come from the sulfur compounds that are formed in garlic cloves when they are chopped or crushed. The best compound that comes from the crushing or chopping of fresh garlic is called allicin. The thing is that it is only present in freshly chopped or crushed garlic for a short amount of time. So when garlic is cooked or when you buy it in a jar, this compound is long gone. However, there are studies that say aged garlic extract is great for heart health. But since we are sticking to kids’ diets right now, we aren’t going to touch on that for the sake of being focused.
One clove of garlic is full of amazing vitamins and minerals including B6, Vitamin C, Manganese, Fiber, Calcium, Copper, Iron, and Potassium. So how much does your little one need? Depending on their size, you can start with a very little bit, like 1/4 a clove for a toddler. The taste can be a no-no for them, so I say start small and see how they react before trying to cram a whole clove in their mouth!
Garlic has a ton of health benefits, the lists I’ve seen really go on and on. But the number one thing that all the lists cover is that it helps boost the immune system. Hint-hint, sneak it in using the french toast trick! If you want to know more about the benefits of garlic and it’s other properties, Healthline has a great full article on it!
You’re a Sunflower
This one might surprise you! I know a lot of schools have banned peanut butter, almond butter, and almost every other butter in the world. But Sunbutter has prevailed as a safe option. And that’s great because sunflower seeds are absolutely full of immune-boosting nutrients. With the list being made up of Vitamin E, phosphorous, B6, magnesium, and selenium, it truly is a superfood.
Interestingly enough, there have even been studies done that have found the potential to fight viral infections using sunflower seeds in the past. It was tested mostly on the H1N1 (swine flu). The selenium in it is an important mineral our bodies need to fight infections and stay healthy. Although we all need this mineral, there is a suggested level for children of different ages according to Healthline
For the daily recommendation, it goes as follows:
- Newborns to 6 months old = 15 mcg
- 7 months to 3 years = 20 mcg
- 4-8 years old = 30 mcg
- 9 to 13 years old = 40 mcg
- Over 14 = 55 mcg
If you don’t want or can’t give your kids Sunbutter or some sunflower seeds, other options that have a good amount of selenium are Brazil nuts (which can be graded and used as fake ‘parmesan cheese’); yellowfin tuna, cottage cheese, cashews, and baked beans.
That Big Fruit Next to the Mangos
(That You Never Really Buy)
Ah, the papaya. It’s green on the outside, bright orange on the inside, weird shape, and you look at it like it’s an alien in the produce section. Well, guess what? It is LOADED with Vitamin C. And by loaded, I mean one medium-sized papaya has double the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C. This doesn’t mean your kid needs to actually have that much Vitamin C and eat a whole papaya every day! It is just a great fruit to buy and cut into chunks to add to smoothies or give slices as afternoon snacks.
On top of Vitamin C, papayas also contain a great amount of potassium, magnesium, and folate. If you’re hesitant to make your little ones try a new fruit like papaya, here is an awesome recipe for Papaya Bars that you can substitute the sugar for coconut sugar to make a little healthier!
My Love For Turmeric
You have probably guessed by now that I love this spice. I’ve written a couple of other posts that have boasted about its benefits including one about how it can help adults with weight loss…but it’s also amazing for building immunity. It is actually the thing that gives turmeric its bright color, called curcumin, that carries its immune-boosting benefit.
The trick with getting the medicinal properties that turmeric has is using its extract versus the powder version. The powder is great for curries and turmeric lattes because it gives it that specific taste. But the powder contains a very small amount of curcumin. In order to get the most out of it, I suggest getting the extract and putting less than 1 gram of extract into a smoothie for your little one. For adults, over 1 gram is recommended, but your kids don’t need that much. This one is great because it is alcohol-free and certified organic.
Drink it Up
Let’s move into the drink section of boosting your kid’s immune system. While I already mentioned a couple of things you can put in smoothies (papaya and turmeric) – this list is more aimed at juices to make them. I think juicing for kids is really important since it’s hard to get vitamins from veggies into their daily diet.
Here are four juices and tonics to give to your kid to help boost their immunity. I would suggest mixing it up, so maybe like one of these drinks every 2-3 days.
- Watermelon juice
- It can be bought at most grocery stores and is a huge immunity booster. If they don’t like the taste of straight watermelon juice, you can always mix it with a little lemon and maple syrup or coconut sugar. Making it kind of like a watermelon-lemonade.
- Strawberry and Mint
- If you mix 3-5 strawberries with a couple of mint leaves and just a splash of maple syrup if the strawberries are sour. Either use your juicer if you have one or put them in the blender and then through a strainer to remove the seeds and any large flecks of mint.
- Beet, Carrot, and Ginger
- This can be more of a tonic for kids, too much beet can be hard on their digestive systems so just do a quarter or half a beet at most. Same as above, either juice or blend and stain. Trader Joes has great Ginger shots that you can buy in little bottles. If you just put a little splash from the bottle, that is enough to get the immune-boosting benefits for your little one!
- Caffeine-free Green Tea
- Make sure you are buying Caffeine-free and not decaf. Decaffeinated means there is still a little bit of caffeine in it and they don’t need that! This green tea by Bigelow is fully caffeine-free. Again if they don’t like the taste of it straight, you can put a little coconut sugar in it or use the lemonade idea.
Healthy from the Outside
How many times have you seen ‘how to properly wash your hand’ videos in the last few months? A thousand times? A million times? We’ve watched everyone from doctors to celebrities show us videos of them washing their hands properly. And yes, it is a large factor in keeping us and our little ones clean and healthy. However, there are a lot of other things we can do to the external parts of our bodies that can help boost our Immunity from the outside in! Let’s explore four ways to boost your kids immunity through external practices.
Our health is affected not just by what we eat and drink, but by what we breathe, too. Amongst other things in our environment. To purify and add immune-boosting essential oils into our air at home, we can add lavender, orange oil, lemon oil, or eucalyptus oil to diffusers. Make sure to put it on the other side of your kid’s room opposite their bed. They shouldn’t have the mist from the diffuser anywhere close to their face while they sleep. If it’s too close, it can cause them to become congested from too much dew landing on them…aromatic scents are best breathed in when they are dissolved into the air.
I love this Stone Diffuser from Vitruvi. It’s small, quiet, and sleek and can fit easily on top of a little side table or changing table. The oils that you use in it can be switched out every week to get the optimal benefits from each one. If you’re having any problems with mosquitos where you live, the eucalyptus oil can act as a bug deterrent as well as an immune booster!
An extra tip for mamas with newborns: to help with sleep training, rub a drop of lavender on your palm, and wave it above your baby’s head as they are falling asleep. Do this every night for 6 to 8 months and they will learn that the smell of lavender means it’s time to go to sleep. This will help them throughout their childhood as they assimilate that scent in their diffuser with bedtime.
What we put on our skin and our children’s skin is really important. Most of us moms know to stay away from the big-name brands that just load their “baby-safe” products with everything but baby-safe ingredients! When they are in the bath, we usually use bubble bath or just squeeze their regular soap in there. But taking advantage of this soak time is key to helping boost immunity.
I’m going to list a few great products you can use at bath time to help boost your little one’s immune system while they do one of their favorite things! These are all-natural products that include clean organic ingredients. However, I suggest using a very small amount in the bath so you can monitor their skin. Although all-natural, every baby and kid is different and can still be sensitive to things that are plant-based and natural. Just start with small amounts and work up if you want.
- YouCare Organic Vegan Bath Bombs for kids
- Alaffia Coconut Camemolie bubble bath
- MogiMogi Oatmeal Bath Soak for babies
…And After the Bath
When you take a bath, your pores open up from the warm water and are able to soak in the healing effects of whatever you choose to add to your bath. But right after your little one exits the bath, the pores begin to close once they feel the cold air. To get the highest amount of nutrients into their skin from enriched lotions, you have to put their lotion on right after they get out of the bath and still have warm skin.
I really like baby and kid lotions that are made with simple and few ingredients. That way you know that if there’s a high amount of Vitamin C in the lotion, and maybe just 2-3 ingredients, they have the best likelihood to sink into their pores before closing up. Remember that their skin pores are very tiny compared to ours, so lotions will simply sit on top of the outer skin layer and rub off if they don’t soak in properly and quickly.
This One Might Amaze You
If you have read any of my parenting posts in the past, you know I am a big supporter of positive reinforcement. The power of positivity changes our brains. It has been scientifically proven that words can have a positive or negative effect on our wellbeing. This goes 10-fold for kids. It’s very important to keep your cool with your kids, beyond the obvious reasons of creating tension and stress in the house.
The words we speak and the way we say them actually send vibrations of energy (it has been proven by the Law of Attraction). Therefore, if we create an environment for our kids where every sniffle is followed up by us saying “oh no, you’re getting sick”, we are creating a physical reaction that brings the idea of sickness and unhealthiness. If you don’t believe this, it’s okay. I know this idea seems a bit new-age. But just as a lot of us have turned to meditation, mantras, our ‘power words’, this idea falls in line with those ideas.
You can do this simply by relaxing at first. Remember that kids are very resilient. They heal faster and easier than we do, and they don’t have the knowledge yet of the outside world. It is learned that a soar throat and a stuffy nose means ‘I must be sick’. It is possible to heal yourself with words, and also do the same for your kids. So as radical as this idea might sound, I encourage you to do some research on this! Go read about it to come to your own conclusion about it. Here is a great (free) resource to read, called The Energy of Words by Michelle Arbeau if you want to learn more.
Lastly, if you are on board with this, you can help your kids with their own mantras. You can add it to your bedtime routine or before dinner routine, simply help them make up a one-sentence mantra; for example: “I am grateful for my body, I am well and I am healthy”
Bringing it All Together
Whether you use one or all of these ways to help boost your kids immune systems. The most important thing is that they are safe. If you think you need to keep your kids inside for another 2 months just to be sure they stay as healthy as possible, then go for it! There are no rules when parenting, you know them best and you know what is best.
As always, thank you for reading and please feel free to leave your added immune-boosting ideas in the comments! I love hearing all of your ideas and it can only help others to spread tips and advice for parents.
Wishing you all good health,