Immunity Boosting Tips in Kids
Maggie ZHUANG, Family Medicine Physician
More schools may reopen as the coronavirus spread has been basically curbed. It’s true that gathering lots of people together indoors day after day leads to the inevitable exposure to a multitude of bacteria and viruses. How do you protect your school-aged (or daycare-aged) kids? There are healthy habits you can adopt that will boost your child’s immunity.
Healthy diet is essential to build a good immune system. To keep kids well, balance dietary calories with physical activity to maintain normal growth. Maintain a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh veggies, whole fruits, fish and whole grain food. Consume low-fat or nonfat milk and dairy product daily. Limit juice intake, fast food, simple sugars and highly processed foods.
2. Exercise as a family
Children should be active for at least 60 minutes each day, consisting of moderate or vigorous aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, running, skipping, biking, swimming and playing basketball. Hopping, skipping, push-ups or pull-ups are also good muscle and bone strengthening exercise.To get your child into a fitness habit, be a role model and exercise with them!
3. Limit screen time
Your child now spends almost half of the day in front of the computer or television as classes have been moved online. Studies show that the more time children spend in front of a screen, the higher their risk of obesity. High screen time is also related to depression, poor sleep and school performance. Guidelines generally recommend limiting screen time to no more than one to two hours of quality programming daily.
4. Get adequate sleep
Studies show sleep deprivation can lead to reduction of immunity. School aged child needs more than 9 hours; 11 hours per night is ideal. Inadequate sleep is associated with behavioral problems, poor school performance, high blood pressure and obesity. If your child does not sleep during day time, then make him/her sleep early during night.
5. Good dental care
Good teeth help improve overall health. School-age children should see a dentist twice a year for a checkup and cleaning. Sugary food and beverages should be limited. Brush the teeth twice a day. Flossing daily is also recommended.
6. Guard against germs
Fighting against germs protect your young ones from getting sick. Good habits like washing hands frequently, before and after a meal or after handling pets, using the bathroom, blowing their nose etc. are important. If you are going out, then carry hand sanitizers along with you.
7. No smoking at home
Kids are more susceptible to the harmful effects of passive smoke as they breathe faster. Secondhand smoke increases a child’s risk of bronchitis, ear infections, and asthma. If any of your family members is into smoking, then stop it for the sake of your kid. If you are finding it hard to quit smoking or at least trying to reduce your smoking each day, then try to keep your smoking habits out of your house.
8. Take vitamin D
Studies have shown up to 50% of children have insufficient levels of vitamin D. The AAP recommends 400IU of vitamin D daily for all children. Many experts believe that this dose is inadequate particularly for those who live in northern climates or have little sun exposure.
9. Get vaccinated
Vaccine is the best way to acquiring immunity against infection. There are two sets of immunizations recommended in school-age children, one is at 4-6 years of age and the second at around 12 years of age. Besides the primary vaccines, influenza vaccine is recommended annually for all children older than 6 months of age. Check out if your kids have got the scheduled vaccine.