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Back to School: Tips for Boosting Your Child’s Immunity and Preventing Illness

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Coraline started preschool last week. Whoa. I look back through the Mama Greenest archives and am totally awestruck that the little tiny baby I was convinced would never come out is now three and going to school. They say time flies, but no one fully impresses upon you that it flies at warp speed.

There were tears the first day, of course (I saved mine for the parking lot), and tears the second day, too. But by the third day my big girl gave me and hug and a kiss and walked right on into the classroom without so much as a backwards glance. My heart could have exploded I was so proud. I was really amazed at the change I noticed in her even after the first day; she was so peaceful, engaged, and happy when I picked her up. A number of my friends even commented how she seems like a different child. I’m so excited to see how she grows over this next year.

One thing I’m not so excited about, however, is this new germy environment she’ll be exposed to. I’ve never been one to get OCD about germs, but I distinctly remember getting violently ill at the tail-end of my first week working at a preschool up in Maine. I was mortified to have to call in sick on only my fifth day, but the school director just laughed and said that they always assume the new person will be out on their first Friday. Coraline seems just fine so far, but her pediatrician — Dr. Joseph Malak of Bambini Pediatrics — did recommend that I start giving her a Vitamin D supplement along with probiotics to boost her immune system. Those are just a few of the ways you can give your kid’s immunity a turbo charge for back to school. Here’s a few more:

Make sure they’re getting plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation makes even adults more susceptible to illness, as well as cranky messes.

Push the fruits and vegetables at meal times to ensure they’re getting phytonutrients, which help increase infection-fighting white blood cells. Vitamins A and C are particularly helpful.

Keep stress levels low. Try this mindfulness exercise for young kids: Fill a small glass almost to the top with water. Seated, hold the glass with one hand at chest level. Slowly, without spilling any water, extend the arm and then bring it back to the chest. Have them do this for one full minute. The concentration required will be calming, and help teach the benefits of meditation.

Wash hands with triclosan-free antibacterial soap frequently. And teach your toddler to cough or sneeze into their elbow; at Coraline’s school they call it a “cough catcher,” which the kids seem to easily latch on to.

» What to do when your kid is sick
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