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Supporting your child’s immunity this winter: simple steps for a healthy season.

Winter means colder weather, and with that change, a higher chance of illness. It’s crucial to support your child's immune system during this time, ensuring they stay healthy and resilient right through the season. 

Here’s a few habits you can focus on, daily. 

  1. Prioritise Sleep

Sleep is essential for children's bodies to heal and regenerate. Lack of sleep can lead to a chronically low inflammation state, increased stress response, and immunodeficiency, all of which can harm your child's health. Ensure your child gets enough rest each night to keep their immune system strong (for a guide to optimal sleep hours, check out this link).

  1. Eat The Rainbow

Gut health is one of the most critical factors in immune support, with 70-80% of immune cells residing in the gut. Supporting the microbiome over the winter period is crucial, and the best way to do this is through a diet rich in colorful foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables, packed with essential vitamins and minerals, can help maintain a healthy gut. Don't forget to keep your child hydrated with plenty of water, which is also vital for overall health.

  1. Embrace The Sunshine 

Vitamin D plays a significant role in immunity modulation. Even in winter, getting your kids outdoors for some (very) fresh air and sunshine can help boost their vitamin D levels. Encourage them to run around and play, as exercise supports immunity by inducing "good stress" and improving the production and distribution of immune-fighting cells. 

  1. Practice Good Hygiene

Teaching and practicing good hygiene with your children is a powerful way to prevent illness. Encourage regular hand washing, making it a fun and accessible activity. Teach them to wash for 20 seconds - play their favourite jingle during this time! -covering fronts, backs, sides, whole palms, and thumbs. Ensure they wash their hands after using the toilet, before eating, after touching pets, and when they get home from school. 

By following these simple practices, you can do your very best to support your child's immune health this winter. A few thoughtful changes can make a big difference in keeping your family germ-free/snot-free/not-bed-ridden. 

Sarah is a Paediatric Intensive Care Nurse at a very busy children's hospital and co-director of PAEDS education, whose sole mission is to empower people with lifesaving education to keep kids in the country healthy and safe.