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How to Boost Your Child's Immune System

Preventive Care & Tips

Group of healthy children running

We all want our children to stay as healthy as possible, especially with the seemingly-endless cycle of common colds and stomach bugs that circulate around schools and day care programs. While there’s no perfect recipe for boosting your child’s immune system, helping your child maintain a healthy lifestyle by paying attention to their to diet, sleep, stress and activity levels will all work to support their immune system and help them ward off disease and infection. Read on for four tips on how to boost your child’s immune system.

1. Promote a well-rounded, healthy diet at home. Eating lots of fruits and veggies is a great immune booster for kidsi and maintaining balanced diet that incorporates foods from all the necessary food groupsii is important for establishing a strong nutritional foundation. If your children are picky eaters, you might want to have a few tricks up your sleeve—try upgrading banana bread with shredded carrots or zucchini, adding a handful of spinach to a fruit smoothie before blending and adding tomatoes, avocado or arugula to grilled cheese sandwiches.

2. Take time to chill out. Chronic stress can disturb our immune, digestive, cardiovascular and sleep systems and, over time, can lead to serious medical conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.iii Help your children manage their stress by keeping a calm environment at home. Don’t overschedule and give them plenty of time to rejuvenate with playtime. Make sure that they know they can come to you with any problems that they have and that you’ll be a good listener! Engaging in mindfulness activities as a family like deep breathing or exercise are also great ways to help your child manage stress at home.

3. Make space for exercise and activity-time. One important ingredient to take into consideration when you’re looking at how to boost your child’s immune system is activity. Exercise plays a huge role in maintaining good health, especially when it comes to cardiovascular health, blood pressure and weight management.iv Make sure your child is staying active by turning off the video games and encouraging them to play outside.  Make fitness a priority as a family by walking or biking instead of driving when possible.

4. Get enough zzz’s. Children aged 6-12 need 9 to 12 hours of sleep per night and teenagers aged 13-18 need 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night.v Getting adequate sleep is important to maintain a functioning immune systemvi as well as for preventing type 2 diabetes, obesity and attention or behavior problems.vii Promote healthy sleep habits by establishing a bedtime routine and keeping screens out of the bedroom as one immune booster for kids.  

Looking for more wellness tips? Be sure to check out the Children’s Advil Tips & Resources center for information on topics including fever, cold and flu and pain relief.

SOURCES

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i. How to boost your immune system. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system. Accessed 04/30/20. Referenced text is highlighted in sourcing document.

ii. 6 Signs You Have a Weakened Immune System. Penn Medicine. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2020/march/weakened-immune-system. Accessed 04/30/20. Referenced text is highlighted in sourcing document.

iii. 5 Things You Should Know About Stress. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml. Accessed 04/30/20. Referenced text is highlighted in sourcing document.

iv. How to boost your immune system. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system. Accessed 04/30/20. Referenced text is highlighted in sourcing document.

v. Do Your Children Get Enough Sleep? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/children-sleep.htm. Accessed 04/30/20. Referenced text is highlighted in sourcing document.

vi. How to boost your immune system. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system. Accessed 04/30/20. Referenced text is highlighted in sourcing document.

vii. Do Your Children Get Enough Sleep? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/children-sleep.htm. Accessed 04/30/20. Referenced text is highlighted in sourcing document.