5 ways to boost your child's immunity this winter | CareforKids.com.au®
HEALTH: 5 ways to boost your child's immunity this winter
Brrrr, there's definitely a winter chill is definitely in the air. And as soon as you brush off the winter woolies, cold and flu season also promptly lands. There's been some nasty bugs doing the rounds of schools and childcare centres in recent years and Australia is preparing for a record number of flu cases this winter.

Though you can't always completely avoid getting sick, there are several things you can do to boost your child's immunity to stave off those coughs and colds or, at least, reduce the severity when they do strike.

Top up with sunshine

Vitamin D is not only needed for bone and muscle development, it is also vital for a healthy immune system, because vitamin D arms and triggers T cells, which are the foot soldiers of our immune system. So, these cooler winter months are the perfect time to get out and top up with sunshine when the sun is less strong. Vitamin D also helps to boost mood in the winter months, so it's great for the whole family to get outdoors and soak up some rays. Don't forget it is still important to always wear sunscreen to protect from harmful UV rays.

Choose immunity boosting foods

When the body is well nourished, the immune system has the fuel to work efficiently when viruses do hit. Add garlic and ginger to meals and include plenty of fresh fruit in lunchboxes every day.

It has been suggested that sugary and fatty foods can suppress the immune system, so keep those to a minimum and reach for the veggies instead. Increase intake of vitamin C with carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, berries and oranges, and add vitamin D-rich foods such as tuna, fish, eggs and oats to the daily menu. And, what is often forgotten in the winter months is to stay adequately hydrated, water helps to fight off unwanted germs and flush out toxins.

Get plenty of sleep

Studies suggest that sleep deprivation can almost double the chance of catching a flu or cold, so ensuring everyone is getting enough sleep will greatly help to reduce your chances of coming down with a cold or flu. The Sleep Health Foundation recommends that infants need 12-15 hours a day, the average toddler needs 11-14 hours sleep, preschoolers need 10-13 hours, school-aged children need 9-11 hours, and teenagers need 8-10 hours sleep. And of course, don't forget yourself! Sleep requirements vary for adults, but recommendation are between 7 and 9 hours a night.

Keep active

Regular exercise boosts circulation, improves mood and regulates sleep, so a run around the park every day can really help to keep everyone fit and healthy through the winter months. Aim for at least an hour of exercise every day, making it outdoors ticks off the vitamin D input for the day also!

Teach good personal hygiene

Bacteria and viruses can't live for long on inanimate surfaces, so the primary cause of the spread of infection is nearby coughs and sneezes. The first line of defense is frequent hand washing.

Teach your child to always wash hands before eating by wetting hands, lathering with soap for 20 seconds and drying thoroughly. As nose, eyes and mouth are all entry points for viruses, also teach your child to avoid touching their faces or sucking thumbs, and educate them in not sharing bottles, straws and spoons. And of course (though this one often takes many reminders!), teach them to cover their mouths when coughing and sneezing, to use tissues to wipe their noses and then dispose of them in the bin.
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