7 NATURAL WAYS TO BOOST YOUR CHILD’S IMMUNE SYSTEM
I can almost hear the collective sigh of relief across the nation now that school is back! Or if you have a baby or toddler you might be skipping out of day care actually excited to go back to work because it means that you are able to go to the toilet without someone trying to unravel the entire toilet paper roll. But being back at school or day care means that the chances of your child getting sick or just plain old snotty nose syndrome is increased dramatically. However, there are a few simple tips I’ve put together that have helped my Harlow Moon and might also help your little ones too. Here they are in no particular order, although I must admit I think number 1 is pretty darn important. Here goes…
- PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENT
There was a time not so long ago that I hadn’t even heard of probiotic supplements. Seriously! So if you are wondering what the heck they are don’t stress, I’ve been there. Basically probiotics are live good bacteria that you ingest in capsule or powdered form on a daily basis to help your gut and body function properly. They help you strengthen your immune system and the resistance to allergies, amongst other things. Probiotics can also be found in fermented foods like yoghurt, I have a video that talks about probiotic and gut health in greater detail here.
Probiotics are not hard to come by, you can pick them up at the supermarket, chemist or health food store and they come either refrigerated or stored at room temperature. For Harlow, I find it much easier for her to take a powdered probiotic that is stored at room temperature mainly because we travel and stay at other people’s houses a lot so it gets hard to always keep the probiotics chilled. I add powdered probiotics to her morning or evening bottle, just ensure that you don’t add it to super hot liquid as the bacteria will die.
- MANUKA HONEY
Manuka honey is kind of nature’s miracle honey from New Zealand that is loaded with anti-bacterial properties and have been scientifically proven to kill bad bacteria and anti-biotic resistant ‘super bugs,’ so you often find it added into wound dressings and creams as well as drinks and lozenges to fight throat infections. I started giving Harlow Manuka honey after she had turned one as it isn’t suitable for babies under one years of age, so please don’t go giving your new born Manuka honey!
There are all sorts of grades of Manuka honey depending on its potency and it can get very expensive. But there are tubs out there for around about $20 for 250g, which is a MGO 30+ blend, it’s the one I have been using and have found it to work well and it lasts a long time. I started giving Harlow Manuka honey when she was sick with a cough and a cold that just wouldn’t go away for what seemed like months on end. I got to the end of my tether and introduced about ½ teaspoon everyday to her morning or evening bottle and after a few weeks combined with probiotics I noticed a big difference, now I just give it to her to maintain general health.
In an ideal world you would breastfeed your baby for as long as you are comfortable and able, for every woman this is a different amount of time. I don’t want to preach to women about how long they should breastfeed as you already have so many other pressures on you, this is your decision. I exclusively breast fed Harlow for about 7 – 8 months and then introduced an organic formula around this time and I noticed a significant drop in her immune system when I did this but unfortunately I had to go back to work and that was my reality. Harlow started weening herself off the boob around 9 months and we both felt ready to stop altogether by about 10 months. This is my story and everyone’s is different, mumma’s milk really is the best option but don’t beat yourself up if you are trying your best and can not do it any longer for any reason. Mumma’s guilt isn’t healthy either!
- TEA TONICS & BROTH
I think that in every culture there would be a slightly different tea tonic that your parents make you when you are sick. For me it was lemon, honey and ginger and it’s something I still make for my family and myself when illness hits. I recently heard of an ayurvedic blend popular in India, which is turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper and honey for sweetness. It was traditionally made with raw cow’s milk but you could also make with coconut milk. The black pepper might sound strange and spicy but it makes the active ingredient in the turmeric become bioavailable, which means that your body will metabolise it and reap the benefits of turmeric properly. So you should add a little black pepper to your smoothie too if you use turmeric. Obviously some kids are not going to want to down these, but if you introduce it early enough and make it sweet they might!
Another tonic that is bit of a buzzword at the moment is bone broth, slow cooked beef or chicken bones with veggie off cuts simmered for at least 4 – 8 hours, strained off and then seasoned with a little tamari or salt and apple cider vinegar and you have an incredibly gelatinous and healthy broth that you could drink on a daily basis for optimal health. I make this and store in little 100ml containers that I can freeze and defrost for Harlow to have in her bottle. Let me tell you, she loves the stuff. You can also buy organic bone broth if you can’t be stuffed making it yourself from places like My Goodness Organics. Another good alternative is homemade chicken soup to soothe the soul!
- SLEEP AND REST
We all know how grumpy we get when we are tired or not well rested, the same goes for our immune system. We are more vulnerable to picking up bugs and viruses when we are exhausted so it’s super important for children to be well rested. This is hard for a number of reasons, you might not have a good sleeper (which in turn creates an even worse sleeper!), you might be a super busy person with your baby strapped to your back trying to get things done or you might not be down with setting a routine. The idea of creating a sleep routine did scare me at first, because I don’t have a set routine myself, but it really does help with developing good sleep habits. Your routine doesn’t have to be to the minute, or even hour, but I found developing sleep cues and doing the same thing every night – dinner, bath, quite time, getting into sleeping bag, read a story, lights out with comforter, really has made Harlow into a great sleeper.
- EATING WHOLE FOODS AND VEGGIES
It really goes without saying that what we eat has a huge affect on how we feel. You’ve heard it before, “ the food you eat can be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” (Ann Wigmore, whole foods advocate) Plant based foods should make up majority of your children’s diet but getting kids to eat veggies can be hard. I find that roasting veggies is a really great and easy way to serve things like pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato and beetroot, the natural sweetness and sugars caramelise and become utterly delicious even for the discerning toddler palate. For steamed and boiled veg like peas, broccoli, asparagus and other greens I like to add a little fat like a pure butter or olive oil after cooking as the fat not only makes it taste better but it increases the vegetables bioavailability, meaning your body absorbs more of the nutrients from the vegetable. Grating up raw veggies and cooking them up with a can of tomatoes or pasata is a great way to make a quick veggie sauce which you can then add to brown pasta, rice or other wholegrain that your child will eat.
- ESSENTIAL OILS
I only really started getting into essential oils about 6 months ago when a friend introduced me to the awesome and powerful natural benefits these little bottles of love have to help boost your immune system as well as a myriad of other great things including reducing the chemical load in your home. I’ve created a little rub, like my own version of Vick’s, using eucalyptus, peppermint, oregano and defractionated coconut oil, or any other carrier oil and rub this into the base of Harlow’s feet if she gets sick. I also have a blend called “On Guard” that contains oils like orange, cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary and clove which acts like a defence against flu, colds and viruses, you can diffuse in your home or blend with an oil and rub on daily. Essential oils are pretty powerful and when giving them to children you really need to get your head around the blends and they must be diluted with carrier oil. If you are interested in essential oils contact me and I can hook you up with someone who knows loads more than me.
Lastly, as you all know I am not a medical professional but I don’t think I need to be to suggest some natural alternatives. Of course you should always check labels, talk to experts, use common sense and tune into your instincts before trying out something new. Some of these suggestions might gel with you, others might not but when you are dealing with an unhappy and sick child and are clutching at straws it might be worth trying some of these tips out. I’d love to know if you have more natural health suggestions (and I know there are waaay more!) check in with me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter because everyone wants a happy child! x