Today we have Nursery Collective Eco Mama & Wellness Coach Sig Chapman sharing her top tips on how to boost your child’s immune system this winter, naturally!
Winter isn’t coming – it’s here. Having a sick kid really isn’t fun and on top of that can impact the wellbeing of the whole family. So, what can you do to combat the germs coming in from day-care, kinder and school, and boost your child’s immune system this winter?
The good news is that there are some simple and natural ways to help boost immunity and help them stay healthy in the cold and flu season, so if they do get hit with any nasty bugs, it doesn’t linger and they recover quickly. These are my secrets to increase immunity, keeping my kids healthy during winter.
1) Boost Your Child’s Immune System: Start with a good diet
Focus on feeding them a variety of seasonal, local, whole foods. I know kids can sometimes be fussy, but having lots of immune building foods, veggies and fruit makes a huge difference. Try adding things like almonds (Vitamin E, manganese), berries, spinach, broccoli (Vitamins C, A, E), salmon, sweet potato (lots of Vitamin C!) and eggs (naturally occurring Vitamin D).
A balanced diet, where you keep sugar at a low and increase the foods that promote good gut bacteria is vital. Sugar reduces your immune system and creates an inflammatory response within the body. During winter I often make a (room temperature) green smoothie for my kids every day – with a few of these things in it. I also add a supergreens powder and sometimes a probiotic to it too.
2) Avoid getting sick by boosting gut health
I am a firm believer that good health starts in the gut which results in a strong immune system (and good brain function!). How are your kids tummies? Do they complain of sore tummies often, are they constipated, do they eat a very balanced diet?
Why is gut health so important? For our internal system, the gut is our first line of defence (our skin does the defending externally) when bugs enter our body. And the most common way they get into our system is usually through your child putting hands in their mouth, up their nose or rubbing their eyes. The germs get ingested and if their gut bacteria aren’t able to destroy them at the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, then they pass through and get into their bodies.
Two of my favourite natural remedies that support the health of your child’s digestive system include:
a. Probiotic foods and supplements – foods to support the growth of gut flora include fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, kim chi), miso, kombucha (my kids love this!) and yoghurt. A good probiotic can help restore the balance of good bacteria in their gut – and especially important after antibiotics. I started my kids on one from when they were both about 6 months old and it helps so much with gut health and overall immunity. (Also for yourself too! Especially if breastfeeding as that will help bub’s immunity too). . Check with a naturopath/wellness practitioner to what suits your family.
I also make gut-healing, immune gummies for them with orange juice, raw honey, gelatin powder and adding the doTERRA On Guard (protective blend) and Wild Orange essential oils (1-3 drops).
b. Bone broth – it heals and repair the digestive system while giving little bodies all the nourishment they need to stimulate strong immune responses. It’s also perfect for when kids are sick and don’t feel like eating as it incredibly hydrating, healing and soothing – plus tasty!
3) Use Vitamins & Natural Remedies to Boost Your Child’s Immune System
I also give daily Vitamin C and Echinacea as an immune booster (Plus a good quality multivitamin too). When they are sick, you can give a high dose Vitamin C powder (avoid the tablets as typically full of sugar) – add some of that into a glass of water (or orange juice if you want to) and get them to drink that a few times a day. You can also add some colloidal silver (natural antibacterial) into that too.
Honey has antimicrobial effects and works to relieve irritation, reduce inflammation and also provides immune-boosting antioxidants. Raw organic honey or manuka honey is great. I use it in a few things like making natural gummies, on oats, natural cough syrup etc.
Elderberry is great for respiratory infections and coughs and some swear by leaving a cut onion in some sugar in the bedroom to help ease coughs too.
4) Boost Your Child’s Immune System: Sleep + Stress Avoidance is Key!
Like us, kids get run down especially when they have had a big day (stress increases cortisol, which basically means your body is in that “flight or fight” mode. When they are in this mode for long periods of time, it lowers your immunity).
In our household, at the first signs of being run down, it’s straight to bed! Making sure they are getting enough rest (even downtime if yours have given up naps) and helping them find ways to slow down is vital. I know this is sometimes tough for working parents, but I do believe in the long run, this will shorten the overall duration of illness. We do quiet time and I use my essential oils to help with anxiety and sleep – Lavender, Balance (grounding blend), Vetiver (Mother Nature’s sleeping pill haha!), Cedarwood, Marjoram etc.
5) Boost Your Child’s Immune System With Essential Oils
There are a lot of oils that can be used to help with immunity and respiratory support, but you do need to ensure you are using a brand that is therapeutic grade and pure. I love doTERRA essential oils and have been using them for years for my family. I use the oils in many ways for immune support and tend to be my go-to for overall wellness as well.
Daily, my kids get a drop of On Guard (immunity blend with cloves, cinnamon (two foods that have the most naturally highest antioxidants in them), wild orange, Eucalyptus + Rosemary) on the soles of their feet before school/daycare.
I have my own DIY hand sanitiser with on guard, I clean with it, use it in my laundry etc so there is always some sort of immunity protection happening.
I also make a homemade chest rub – you can make it using stuff you have – coconut oil (so solid and then melts when applied), some beeswax (but don’t have to) and some essential oils – I use Easy Air, peppermint and Eucalyptus (obviously using safe dilution ratios for the little ones).
I also make a “flu bomb” roller blend with on guard, lemon (detoxifying), oregano (natural antibiotic), tea tree (anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, viral etc) and frankincense (helps inflammation) diluted with coconut oil and roll that onto their feet before bed.
I also diffuse On Guard with Easy Air (respiratory blend) and lavender at night during flu season and it helps to cut down the time of sickness and help alleviate coughs, runny noses and sleep better.
Other essential oils you can add to the diffuser are:
– Ginger (an expectorant which supports the release of mucus),
– Cypress (will help remove excess fluid),
– Cardamom (a lung tonic that helps strengthen the lungs),
– Marjoram (an antispasmodic making it great to use during winter if a cough strikes. It eases Bronchial muscle spasms and also acts as an expectorant helping us to cough up those gross phlegm balls. It’s also a pretty awesome sedative and will send you off into sweet dreams)
– Eucalyptus (can open the airways and support clear breathing.) Can do some steaming – get a bowl of hot water, 1-2 drops eucalyptus and some tea tree essential oil (or even in the base of the shower), put towel over your head and breathe in to help with congestion.
Written by Sig Chapman
Sugandha (Sig) Chapman is a Holistic Health + Mindset coach, mama of two cheeky kids, and founder of The Glow Revolution and My Organic Child. Both have been built on the belief that if you want to give light to others you must first find the glow within yourself and that kindness is the ultimate thing we can teach our kids. My Organic Child is a hub for organic style, natural parenting and conscious living for modern mums. There you can also find some favourite resources and tips about anything relating to gentle parenting, holistic health + wellness, baby led weaning, eco and non-tox living, creativity + motherhood and simple living while trying to find balance in the chaos