Immunity Support for Pre Schoolers

Has your little one recently started at day care and now it feels like they are snuffly and snotty all the time? When kids first start at childcare centres it can be quite a shock when they come home regularly feeling off colour – this inconvenient and unpleasant cycle is an issue for many families.

When a child starts group child-care it can be normal for them to get exposed to between 8 and 12 bugs in the first year. As well as having a more susceptible immune system, toddlers in day-care centres are more exposed to immune threats. They are in close contact with their class mates and usually haven’t quite mastered skills of sneezing into an elbow, nose blowing, covering their mouth when coughing, or washing hands regularly.

Don’t be too concerned about this, as research seems to show that the immunity that children build up in pre-school will help them when they start school.

However, we’ve put together a few tips to support you through these early years.

Good nutrition

Foundational to a healthy immune system is healthy food choices. The easiest rule to follow is avoid packets in lunch boxes. If the childcare centre provides the food, then follow up with great nutritional support at home. Aim for half of their plate to be vegetables, even it is hidden in other parts of the meal or blended up to be disguised. Protein is important for the immune system so ensure good quality meat or other sources are eaten. Aim for whole-foods and homemade so you can control how much sugar, artificial colours, sweeteners, and flavours they are eating.

Start as early as you can exposing the taste buds to different tastes and textures. And don’t give up – keep putting broccoli on their plate even if they swear black and blue that they will never ever eat it. Don’t force it, but create an environment where it is normal for the family to eat lots of veggies, even if your toddler chooses not to partake at this time.

Fermented foods like yoghurt or kefir are a great addition for supporting digestive and immune health. Probiotics are live microorganisms that play essential roles in the body. Specifically, for children, they can be supportive of normal healthy skin, immunity, and a happy tummy. Ideally the yoghurt will be unsweetened (fruit can be added for flavour).

Essential oil support

There are many ways to keep the home healthy and limit exposure to problematic microbes, and essential oils offer flexibility in that they can be applied in multiple ways. Essential oils are very concentrated parts of plants, and only small amounts are used. Here’s a few suggestions!

Make ‘Keep Bugs Away’ room spray

For cleaning toddler’s toys, as a toilet seat spray, wiping door handles, spritz bedding and clothes, and to freshen the air at home.

In a 50ml spray bottle, add ½ tsp baking soda with 25 drops total of the following oils:

  • Lavender 10 drops
  • Tea Tree or Manuka 10 drops
  • Peppermint 5 drops

Ideal oils for the diffuser

To support the wellness of the family, having essential oils vaporising through the house can be supportive of many areas of health. To support immunity, try a few drops of any of the following oils in your diffuser:

  • Lavender
  • Tea tree or Manuka
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemon
  • Oregano
  • Roman Chamomile

Adequate sleep

Those little people are growing so fast, that sleep is an essential component to their wellbeing. Toddlers need about 14 – 16 hours of sleep (including a nap) each day. Each year, toddlers can grow approximately 5 – 8 cm and increase their weight by 2 – 3 kgs. All this growth, as well as the constant movement and interaction with the world takes a lot of energy! So, it is no wonder that if they miss a nap, they are a little cranky. Helping to overcome bedtime challenges with a good sleep routine, and by avoiding stimulating foods (MSG, Food dyes) and activities involving screens are two simple supportive bedtime rules. The blue light from tablets, phones, and TVs can keep our hormones thinking that it is day time. To support the whole family’s sleep, keep lights low and screens off for at least an hour before bed.

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