It never fails that the fall and winter season are full of nasty viruses which cause lots of sleepless nights. But my favorite immune booster for kids always helps reduce these occurrences.
Being a former teacher, I recall how many children go to school with a runny nose, coughing and sneezing, and possibly infecting everyone around them. Sharing pencils, taking turns on the computers, playing games together, and being in close proximity for so many hours they easily pass around these germs and often bring them home to the rest of the family.
Your best bet to combat this is having a plan to boost their immune system and being prepared for illness as soon as it shows up. It's actually easier than you think and you don't need to spend a lot of money either!
*Since writing this blog post in 2017 I have applied these methods to the whole family with success every school year!
I'm going to break down what I did last year that actually worked. I put together a plan and had some basic remedies on hand that I thought I might need. My daughter only caught a couple of mild colds and we didn’t have any of those terrible sleepless nights from her coughing or crying like we had so many times before. And the best part is this was all affordable!
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Daily immune support for kids
First, I focus on healthy habits.
I focus on sleep and diet here. She has to go to sleep at her bedtime no matter what. The goal is a minimum of 10 hours every night. I only allow juice once a day, and usually, it's for breakfast. I only send water in her lunchbox, along with healthy lunches and do not rely on school food. This means low sugar and no processed snacks, and always include at least 1 vegetable and 1 fruit.
I also include minimal supplementation.
The key to keeping this affordable is to get a high dose vitamin d supplement that lasts a long time and everyone in the family can take, and to make elderberry syrup yourself. (I've switched to giving her elderberry gummies which she loves, and you can find the recipe here).
It usually costs about $12 to make a batch of elderberry syrup that lasts several months as opposed to one 8 oz bottle for $19 at the store that lasts a few weeks, but right now elderberries are in high demand so they're double the price (still cheaper than buying it premade). It’s very easy to make and tastes good too.
Just know these are not available year round, I strongly recommend you order them now before they go out of stock because you will not be able to get them again for a very long time.
So to recap, this is what I do to boost her immune system:
- 1 tsp of elderberry syrup daily or 1 elderberry gummy
- vitamin D3 with K2 daily (from the sun or a vitamin d3 supplement)
- healthy food
- mostly water to drink
- get enough sleep
- lots of hand washing
So what is the best immune booster for kids?
So if you can only afford to purchase one supplement, start with adding in elderberry syrup. Like I said before she loves to eat them as gummies so I have been making them according to this recipe.
Immune support when you're already sick
When I notice a little sniffle or any inkling of an illness, I immediately start with the remedies. This is key. If you wait a few days, the illness sets in further and will hit harder and take longer to go away.
This is why you need to have the remedies on hand before. If you have to order or shop for them after your child is already starting to get sick you won’t catch it in time.
Signs of an impending illness are tiredness, sneezing (several times throughout the day but before a runny nose appears), watery eyes, aches and pains, or any unusual behaviors. Once I see any of these I begin the remedies.
Natural ways to boost children's immune system when sick
- Up the elderberry dosage to 3 times a day
- Up the vitamin C by giving more C rich foods (strawberries, broccoli, oranges, peppers, kiwi, cauliflower, mango, pineapple) or a supplement like this one
- Children’s herbal teas – I keep the Kid’s Cold Care and Tummy Comfort blends from Traditional Medicinals on hand at all times. These teas are amazing. I usually make a cup and give my daughter half in the morning and the other half in the evening. Sometimes I send it instead of juice in her lunchbox. I mix a little honey into it and sometimes add ice cubes to make it an iced tea. You could also just use any chamomile tea for tummy troubles but I highly recommend the Kids’ Cold Care blend. I notice it helps with my daughter’s congestion and cough every time.
- Diffuse essential oils: I will diffuse one or a few essential oils in the living area. My go-to oils are lemon, cedarwood, spearmint, frankincense, and lavender. These are all safe for children. Lemon and frankincense are great immune boosters, cedarwood and spearmint help relieve the airways, and lavender is calming and antiseptic. You could also add a couple of drops to a tbsp of carrier oil like coconut or olive and rub it on their skin instead of diffusing. I prefer to diffuse so that everyone in the house can reap the benefits.
- [Please do not diffuse or use any Thieves blends, peppermint, eucalyptus, or cinnamon on or around young children, regardless of how pure or amazing the brand is. Peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils are all avoided in younger children because they contain a chemical constituent called cineol 1,8 and menthol which stimulate cold receptors in the lungs and trigger a reflex in young children that slows down their breathing significantly.]
Usually, these methods here will stop the illness in its tracks within a day or two. But sometimes it develops and for those times I like to use homeopathy and bring out the “devices”. Here are some options. You don't NEED all of these, they are just options depending on your circumstances.
- Humidifier: If my daughter has a cough I always set up a cool mist humidifier. I have it on throughout the day and the whole night. This helps with the congestion and relieves coughing. Also drinking lots of fluids helps loosen the mucus.
- Steam inhaler: She is very prone to croup and excessive coughing and I’ve found that using a steam inhaler with colloidal silver or saline solution twice a day does wonders for her. Steam inhalers are very effective for respiratory ailments. I have my daughter use it several times a day for 5 minutes at a time and always notice a reduction in her coughing. If you do not want to purchase one of these you could do a steam bath (or just fill the sink with really hot water) for a few minutes instead and add some colloidal silver to the water (if desired) to inhale with the steam. The silver is not necessary, it just helps kill the germs. It's great for infections and first aid too so it's nice to have on hand.
- Saline nasal spray: For congestion, you could also use a basic saline nasal spray. Look for one without medications in it. I just use the steam inhaler so I don't need this, but it's another more affordable option.
- Homeopathy: This is where natural remedies can get expensive. I only keep a couple of these on hand- the main ones for cough, tummy troubles, pain, and anxiety. There are hundreds of homeopathic remedies and it can be very expensive to stock up on them. Keep it simple and stick to the basics for the common ailments. You just place 4-5 tablets under the tongue and let dissolve, then repeat every 15 minutes to 1 hour until symptoms improve. Here are the ones I always have on hand:
- Congestion: natrum mur or pulsatilla
- Cough: spongia tosta or aconitum
- Vomiting & diarrhea: ipecac
- Anxiety: chamomilla
I usually buy these from Amazon. Hyland's and Boiron are the brands you'll most likely see. They also make homeopathic blends for colds and other illnesses like pink eye. You can find them at your local stores like Walgreens too. These work well and are great last minute solutions but they are more expensive than single remedies and don’t last as long.
So there it is. My whole plan for keeping my daughter's immune system strong and combating colds when they do take hold. It doesn't need to be expensive and you don't need to spend hours making natural concoctions. Keep it simple and do what works for you and your family. And if you need to fall back on conventional methods and medicine, that's ok. Keeping your family safe and healthy is your goal, so do what you gotta do!
Do you have any other immunity-boosting ideas or methods? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.
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