Back-to-school season is finally here. As many students return to in-person classrooms after a far-from-normal school year last year, parents may be concerned about contagious germs that kiddos will undoubtedly encounter on the playground, classroom, cafeteria or school bus.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, most children get six to eight colds per year, which is about two-thirds more colds than adults experience annually. Young immune systems haven’t built up as much resistance yet, and viruses can spread quickly in environments where kids are in close contact, like school.
To avoid sick days this school year, below are five back-to-school tips for keeping kids and their immune systems healthy and strong.
Teach healthy habits. The first step to ensuring your child stays healthy is to teach them healthy habits. As we learned during COVID, proper hand washing is essential to preventing the spread of illnesses. Kids should thoroughly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds (or the length of the alphabet song) after using the bathroom and before eating. They should also blow their nose into a tissue and sneeze and cough into their elbow. While sharing is something we teach our kids to do, sharing things like water bottles, utensils, hats and clothing should be avoided.
Keep up with check-ups and vaccines. As school starts again, it can be easy for things to slip through the cracks, but it is important to schedule annual pediatrician appointments. Seeing a doctor regularly will allow them to screen your child for any potential concerns, as well as ensure they have all the required immunizations needed for the upcoming year. This includes a yearly flu shot; it’s recommended that every member of a family receives a flu shot by the end of October. The influenza virus can pose a much higher risk for children, whose immune systems are still developing.
Boost immune and digestive systems with probiotics. The beginning of the school year can be challenging to a child’s immune system—variations in their environment and fluctuations in their eating habits can create stress on their bodies. Introducing a probiotic with vitamins can help support their gut health and immunity. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that promote good digestion, inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, boost immune function and increase resistance to infection. Instead of the typical capsule probiotics, there are kid-friendly fast-melt probiotics that taste great and dissolve instantly in their mouths. Look for probiotics enhanced with vitamin D3 for immunity.
Make healthy food choices. The foundation of a strong immune system is nutritious food. From a young age, kids need a well-balanced diet to help them stay energized throughout the school day and boost their brain function. Fruits, veggies, protein and fiber are all essential to fuel growing children. We all know kids can be picky, but you can encourage healthy eating by letting them pick between two nutritious options, sneaking veggies into a dish they already love and modeling by example.
Armed with these tips, your kiddo will be prepared to stay safe and healthy throughout the upcoming school year.
Justin Marsh is the CEO of Arthur Andrew Medical, a Scottsdale-based manufacturer of enzyme and probiotic based dietary supplements. Arthur Andrew Medical’s products are rooted in science with no processing agents or fillers. They are dedicated to conducting extensive research and clinical applications with dietary supplements for the advancement of natural health alternatives.