Unfortunately mild illness and infection are facts of life with young children, as they are exposed to common “bugs” as they grow, explore and interact with the world around them. Our children’s ability to fight and recover from illness is largely dependent on how well their immune system is functioning. A healthy immune system is crucial to their overall health and wellbeing, and also protects them from bugs that they are exposed to.
Fortunately there are many ways we can help to support our children’s immune systems – through diet and lifestyle, as well as natural therapies.
Children’s diets can be a source of concern for parents. Many parents worry that their children aren’t eating enough, or not eating enough of the right thing. As many as 8 out of 10 Australian parents worry about their children’s eating habits – and a third of parents worry that their kids aren’t eating enough. Young children will never voluntarily starve themselves, and fussy eating is quite normal. Establishing health eating early will help your child remain strong and healthy.
Children’s brains continue to develop throughout their childhood – with some areas not being fully developed until the mid-teens, and some not finished developing until adulthood. Concentration and learning are separate brain processes, but they are related, and one is needed by the other. Our brain, like the rest of our body, requires good nutrition, and it can be supported with brain-friendly foods.
Glucose, an important carbohydrate, is the major fuel needed for the brain. Whole grains, legumes and lentils, pears, berries and apples are good sources of this. Fresh vegetables and fruit provide a good range of antioxidant nutrients to protect against free radicals. Choose a combination of coloured veggies such as orange, red, yellow and dark green. Berries, kiwi fruit and pomegranate are good fruit choices.
Fish, nuts and seeds these provide essential fatty acids for healthy neuron membranes. Lean red meat, chicken, fish and tofu: these contain protein and provide amino acids needed for synthesis of neurotransmitters, the messengers of the brain.
An increase in sedentary activities such as watching TV, DVD’s and playing on computers, tablets and mobile phones is linked to a greater risk of children being overweight, and obese.
This is partially due to the increased sedentary time, taking away from the time children could be physically active – but children who watch more than 2 hours of TV per day are also more likely to have an unhealthy diet – snacking on foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat while watching TV. Encouraging your children to be active every day and providing a balanced diet, with healthy snack options will have a positive impact on your kids’ health and wellbeing.
Blackmores Toddler Milk Drink
There are a number of nutrients that may be helpful for your growing children – below are some of the beneficial nutrients contained in Blackmores Toddler Milk Drink
- Iodine- which contributes to cognitive function
- Iron, zinc and vitamins C,A & D – to support healthy immunity
- Vitamin D and calcium- for growing bones
For good health encourage your children to eat a healthy, balanced diet based on fresh, whole foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.
- Include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains
- Ensure your children are eating adequate amounts of protein - ideally from lean meat, dairy products, chicken, fish (especially oily fish such as salmon, and tuna), nuts, seeds and eggs. Protein is necessary for tissue growth and repair, and is needed for healthy immune function
- Include yoghurt and bitter (usually well hidden) foods in the diet
- Avoid any known allergens – some of the most common problem foods include artificial colours and flavours, sugar, wheat (gluten), cow’s milk (casein) and salicylates
- Avoid fried and processed foods
- Avoid sugar, and sugary foods such as: as lollies, chocolate, soft drinks, cakes, sweet biscuits, and sports drinks. Sugar acts as an immune suppressant, and can have a negative effect on children’s concentration, behaviour and weight
Special tips for fussy eaters
- Be persistent – research has shown that you may need to offer a new food to your children up to 10 times before they will try it
- Be a good example – children learn to behave by watching their parents. Be a good example, eat a wide variety of healthy foods, and eat with your kids
- Establish a mealtime routine – try to eat meals at the same time each day
- Stay calm – try not to worry that your child might not be eating enough – kids will not starve themselves
- Make meals fun! Try cutting foods into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Serve vegetables with a favourite dip or sauce. Present a range of brightly coloured foods attractively on a plate, and let your little one choose what order to eat them in
- Be creative! If your child refuses eat vegetables – be sneaky and hide them in things like spaghetti sauce, meatballs, casseroles and soups
- Try not to yell, nag or threaten children around foods and eating. Make mealtimes enjoyable, and include the whole family
- Don’t use dessert, lollies, chocolates or the promise of other treats as bribes to eat. If you need to resort to bribery – use non-food rewards
Adequate sleep and rest is essential to children’s health and wellbeing. Sleep repairs the body and refreshes the mind. A lack of sleep can cause tiredness, and have a negative effect on concentration, memory, and physical coordination
Children, like plants, need sunshine. Try to have your children experience at least 15 minutes of sun exposure per day
Limit screen time
It is recommended that children should not spend more than two hours per day in front of small screens such as TVs, computers, iPads, and mobile phones.
Children need to play outdoors in natural environments such as parks, beaches and the countryside as much as possible. Playing outdoors in natural environments may improve children’s learning, behaviour and concentration
Regular physical activity is necessary for healthy growth, development and wellbeing.
- Aim a minimum of 30-60 minutes of exercise every day
- Include a variety of moderate and vigorous exercise into your kids’ week. Moderate exercise includes activities like brisk walking, bike riding, skateboarding and dancing. While vigorous exercise is things like football and netball
- Get involved - regularly participate in physical activity yourself (not only will this be good for your health – but research had found that shows parental involvement in physical activity can increase your child’s participation
- Get the whole family involved - go swimming and for walks together, play sports like football, soccer and cricket in the backyard, go bike riding, and take the dog for a walk together
- Take your child to a kids yoga class - yoga can be beneficial for children’s concentration, behaviour and attention