Simple, natural tips for keeping kids healthy and giving them the advantage in fighting the every day school germs!
Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.
Every momma’s goal come the start of the school year…
Escape the back to school bugs!
I admit, it creeps in the back of my head as well. Within those first few weeks of school the emails start rolling out warnings of this bug and that being passed around the classroom, and it’s enough to make you want to send your kid to school in a bubble!
Of course our kids do not live in bubbles, and in fact, an occasional cold bug is a great thing to let their bodies “clean house” and build immunity.
There are definitely some things we can do however, to give our kids the “upper hand.” We can help their bodies fight off bugs more efficiently so that the bugs either don’t even show up as a full on cold, or so that they don’t last as long.
Here are our household secrets in keeping our houseful of kiddos healthy *all* school year long!
First and foremost, it is important to remember that school aged kids are kids. Not adults. School days are long at every school age. In addition to school schedule, packing in a bunch of extra activities at the end of the day can really drain their bodies. If activities after school are a “must”, then it really ought to be made up for on the weekend with naps and early bedtimes. Period.
Growing kids need downtime and play to recoup. Taxed adrenals from lack of sleep and stimulating days don’t allow the immune system to do its job effectively. Plan in what is absolutely necessary, and literally schedule in bedtimes and playtime if after school activities are a part of their week.
Back to school bugs are pretty much a given to be passed around within the first few weeks of school. We have escaped the throws of those first few weeks of the back to school cold being passed around by boosting our systems a good month before school starts and continuing through the fall.
Get the kids outside for fresh air after school and open the windows at home to air everything out! YES in the middle of winter too! The kids breathe stale, inside shared air all day at school and need to play outside and breathe some fresh air. You would be surprised at what even the winter sunshine can do for their demeanor and health – outside light and fresh air is important!
Keep in mind that bugs are going to happen!
It’s inevitable and sometimes a good thing for their body to do some housecleaning with a bug. If the illness is a recurrent thing, it’s time to stop and take a look at what might be a root cause keeping their body run down, but a few bugs in the course of a school year isn’t the end of the world.
So here is our immune system booster line-up!
1. Cod Liver Oil
Well sourced cod liver oil is a fantastic source of the right ratios of vitamins A and D which nourish the immune system. High doses of vitamin D by itself is not recommended as it is balanced best in the presence of vitamin A. This is why cod liver oil is a great source of getting your vitamin D during the cold, dark fall and winter months.
Cod liver oil is also a good source of omega 3. Omega 3’s fight inflammation in the body from stress and stressors (like being sick!) and help the body heal. I have doubled up on cod liver oil during the first day or 2 of the onset of a cold and really felt like it helped knock the virus and inflammation out faster.
How we take cod liver oil in our house
You can find our favorite quality sourced cod liver oil here (Use the code GENERATION 10 checkout and get my RGN reader 10% discount!). We follow the WAPF dosage recommendations. 1/2 – 1 teaspoon 3 months old to 12 years old, and 1-2 tsp 12 years old and up. I do double up the cod liver oil for a day or 2 during illness.
2. Whole Food Sourced Vitamin C
Vitamin C can do some pretty amazing things to aide our immune systems in fighting bugs. It reduces inflammation and boosts the fighting power of our immune system to make the bugs have a shorter duration.
The sourcing on the C truly does matter, and if the back of your bottle says that the C is “ascorbic acid” as its source, you will want to take a peek at this article about why a whole food sourced C works better and is safer.
How we take vitamin C in our house
My favorite source for a whole food based vitamin C is this brand. I also use THIS whole food vitamin C spray for my toddler who can’t swallow capsules yet, and I LOVE the convenience of it! My girls take 250-500mg of vitamin C every day, though keep in mind every child is different and has different needs. Start out small and be sure they are doing well on it. I do double their C during illness.
3. Quality, Whole Food Sourced Multivitamin
Since our soils are so depleted of minerals and vitamins, which in turn make our food supply less than robust, a multivitamin is a good idea. A quality whole food sourced multi-vitamin is hard to come by though! I don’t want the synthetics, and a bunch of other junk like dyes added either! Kids need a chewable or powder until they can swallow capsules, and I have used THIS brand for years. We follow the dosing directions on the back of the box. (Don’t forget you can use your RGN reader code at check-out for 10% off! GENERATION10)
4. Quality Probiotic Rotation & Fermented Foods
By now I think everyone has heard the phrase “all disease begins in the gut,” and it couldn’t be more true. The beneficial bacteria in our guts are the immune system’s first line of defense. Probiotics keep the intestinal lining strong and secure, providing a barrier to fight against pathogen attacks. Keeping the flora in the gut balanced means having more good bacteria present than bad.
We love probiotic rich fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, and pickles in our house. Sometimes they just aren’t at every meal we are eating, however! I have found it best to keep up on our gut flora by using quality supplements which also present our guts with different varieties of bacteria to keep everything happy.
How we use probiotics in our home
My girls take 1 dose (depending on the brand we are rotating) of probiotics every day, and I rotate the brand to give them a variety of bacteria strains. We use Just Thrive, PrescriptAssist, and Garden of Life for Kids. (Don’t forget if you click through those links and purchase through Perfect Supplements to use my code GENERATION10 at check-out to get your RGN reader 10% discount!).
A quick baby and toddler note! When I had babies in the house, I just poured the powder in the cap right on my baby’s or toddler’s tongue. You can stir the powder into food like yogurt, smoothies, or even a spoonful of cod liver oil if you wish!
AT ONSET OF ILLNESS OR IF THERE IS SOMETHING “GOING AROUND” THE CLASSROOM
1. Elderberry Syrup
Elderberries are powerful virus killers and immune system boosters! When I get teacher email warnings of flu spreading, hand foot and mouth outbreaks, or other viruses, you better believe that elderberry syrup is coming out! You can bottle up elderberry goodness in elderberry syrup or tincture form and it is super easy to take because it tastes really good!
How we take elderberry syrup in our home
2 weeks before school starts I like to give the girls 1 tsp of elderberry syrup per day through the first week or two of school starting. If I get warning emails of flu or other viruses, I will do the 1 tsp per day for a good week or 2. When my kids are coming down with something or are home ill, we do 1 tsp of elderberry syrup every waking hour until they perk back up.
2. Boosted Vitamin C
You can pop up to the Vitamin C section in the preventatives section of this post to read about why the Vitamin C is so crucial in fighting illness, but just wanted to review here that during the onset of illness or illness, I double their vitamin C dose until they perk up from being sick.
Years ago, I had a chiropractor friend where we were living at the time explain the benefits of having kids adjusted at the onset of illness to help them recover faster, and I have been amazed at how true this is. I have gone through a couple colds with the girls where we haven’t gotten to the chiropractor, and they just seem to linger longer.
I asked our family chiropractor if he could explain why chiropractic is good for the immune system, and his response made so much sense I asked if I could quote him!
Proper alignment enhances circulation and drainage of fluids. It also optimizes nerve function to help calm the body’s stress response (sympathetic nervous system), and enhance the body’s healing response (parasympathetic nervous system). This has been shown to not only reduce illness, but help children recover from illness quicker.
– Dr. Levi Pulver, DC
I also want to mention that I have noticed regular, “well visit” adjustments seem to keep my kids on top of things especially during the school year. I take them for an adjustment monthly whether they are sick or not. It is a simple, non invasive step to keep the connections at the spine firing where they should be to keep every organ system operating well. (If you are looking for a chiropractor in your area that works with kids well, I love using this site to search.)
4. Germ Targeted Essential Oils
Essential oils were fairly new to me when my daughter started school a number of years ago, but I have come to realize just how effective they are! I have been without them during illness and really could feel how much faster my kids got better when germ targeted oils were diffusing during illness.
How we use germ targeted essential oils in our home
We do not diffuse germ targeted essential oils all year every day. That is not how they were intended to use. I diffuse germ targeted essential oils during the first week or 2 of school starting, during school bug outbreaks, and when my kids are ill. I have found them super effective especially diffusing them in their room overnight – when they wake up acting like a whole fresh new kid you know something is working! I love that!
Our favorite germ targeted essential oil blend is THIS kid safe blend. I am a huge fan of using oils that are safe for kids – many germ targeted blends are great for adults but not intended safe for kids. This Kid Safe blend was created to be safe for kids and it really works!
I decided not to put the nourishing menu in the “preventatives” section, even though that is exactly what it is, because I didn’t want it to get skipped by. Children’s fuel makes a difference in their body operating correctly, including the immune system…period.
But wait! Before you write this section off because your kiddo might not be the best eater, hear me out!
Eating well for their immune system doesn’t have to mean boring veggies they might turn their nose up to. I think the biggest thing we can do is get the sugar and processed food out, and get the nutrient dense items in.
Ensuring they are getting adequate amounts of friendly fats will help their hormones and sugars stabilize, which will keep their immune system functioning.
- Lots of pastured butter, lard/tallow, coconut oil, used in your cooking and serving of food.
- Bone broth is a daily goal of mine to get into my kids during the school year. Whether in a tea cup with butter at breakfast, or in their school thermos in the form of a kid friendly soup like tomato soup, broccoli soup, chicken noodle soup, or butternut squash soup, daily bone broth replaces missing minerals in the diet, nourishes the gut lining with collagen, and is an overall comforting addition to their day.
- Nettle Infusions are another great way to replace missing minerals in children’s diets which will help organs and systems in their bodies operate more efficiently. The infusions are also hydrating and kid friendly in taste. It packs up in the water bottle for school to drink easily. It is a great mineral rich boost at lunchtime!
- You can use immune booster smoothies once or twice a week for breakfast. If your kids really love smoothies you can try these green smoothies for kids as well to change things up.
- You can browse the meals in the Recipes tab at the top of the blog, and you can also get a collection of my family’s favorite staple meals in my new book Nourished Beginnings . The recipes in the book are meals my girls have grown up on, and are on our table weekly!
Great tips, ESPECIALLY about needing rest. I see so many kids go, go go from 6 am to 9 pm with no time to just unwind! School bus trips, all day in school, then activities right after coupled with at least an hour of homework makes it so hard on them!
Thank you Heather!
These are great tips, Renee! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experiences, as well as specific products that have been helpful to you.
Thanks a lot for sharing this information! Can you please double check the link for the whole food sourced multi vitamin… When I clicked on it, it’s opening to a vitamin C spray.
Also do you give Prescript Assist to your 5 year old? I am asking because I use this same brand for myself but wondering if I can give this same to my 5yr old.
Thanks a lot!
Hi Swarna! Thank you for catching that! I fixed it! And yes I give the PA to all 3 of the girls!
Thanks for getting back to me!
You are my inspiration and got my son used to swallowing capsules… Dessicated beef liver capsules and pure radiance vitamin C! Thanks😊
That is so great Swarna!
[…] that first year of school with just a couple minor colds, and I was sold. Yes there is a whole lot more to kids staying healthy during the school year than just elderberry syrup. But with as young as my first born was, and as unexposed as she had been […]
Hi, which diffuser would you recommend? I’m new to essential oils.
Hi Nina! This is the diffuser I have the girls’ rooms :: http://amzn.to/2gqhWkp and this is the one I have in my room and the living room :: http://amzn.to/2gEm03z
[…] certainly don’t live in a bubble, and as diligent as I work at keeping the girls’ immune systems built up to fight the bugs efficiently, once or twice a winter the immune system has to clean house and we have a bug sweep through. (I […]
[…] let your healthy preventatives routine slip up if you are away from home or have some changes in the schedule. If you live in a northern […]
Great post that I keep coming back to every time my little one comes down with a cold.
I have been using Garden of Life brand products for years now but I recently found out it was bought by Nestle!
The owner of Perfect Supplements is concerned about it as well.
Also, Prescript Assist is no longer available, since they completely changed the formulation of the product.
What is your take on that, Renee?
I would very much appreciate it if you can share if any of the supplements linked in this post have changed.
Thank you! <3
I mean if you are taking different supplements than the one linked above. Thanks
This is amazing. There’s so much info and so much I haven’t heard about before. Thanks for putting this together!
Such great tips, Renee! I need to get back on the cod liver oil wagon. I’ve been off due to an extreme hatred of the stuff. Haha. Also gonna check out your vitamin C, I just ran out of mine.