Most people think of fall as a magical time when the leaves turn glorious shades of red and orange. When the air starts to chill so we get to pull out our sweaters. When shorter days lead to cozier nights at home.

But me? All I’m thinking is how I’m going keep my family healthy this season.

Okay, I love fall, too, but think about it. The kids are back in school getting exposed to who knows what kind of germs all day long (and if you think your kids are really washing their hands at school, think again).

And of course holiday travel season is coming up, too, which means you’ll be jammed into a plane breathing the same recycled air as 200 of your fellow cough-y, sneezy citizens.

So to make sure I actually get to enjoy fall for all the good stuff it brings, I do everything I can to support my kids’ immune system so they have the best chance of staying healthy (side benefit: that means I have a better chance of staying healthy, too!).

Here are my five favorite tips for kids:

 

Start with the basics: feed them real, healthy food

Your kid has a better chance of fighting off bugs if what they’re eating is giving their body good fuel. Yes, I’ve had those stressed-out mornings where the lunches I “made” for my kids were, well, less than optimal. But come sniffle season, I do my best to be more thoughtful about including as many real foods in the lunchbox as possible: whole fruits, sugar snap peas, tofu and avocado. I keep the processed stuff to a minimum as best I can.

Don’t let them skimp on sleep

With the days getting shorter, getting kids to bed on time is easier at my house, and I hope it is at your house, too. Though I have friends with older kids who complain that homework plus after-school sports and extracurriculars wreak havoc on their good intentions. And that’s tough, because getting enough sleep is crucial for kids when it comes to staying healthy. Your kid needs between 10 and 14 hours of sleep per day depending on their age (Oh, to be a kid again!). The quality of the sleep is important, too: keep the room dark as possible—no nightlights if your kid can handle it—and no plugged-in devices.

Be good to their gut

There’s been A LOT research in the past decade about how our microbiome—or what we’ve always called our gut—actually plays a huge role in keeping us healthy. When school starts, I get serious about probiotics for my kids. Probiotics are the “friendly” bacteria that help us digest food and protect us from “bad” bacteria and viruses. Giving them probiotics daily is like putting money in the “stay well!” bank. And it’s super easy, too.

It’s okay to chill

I tend to forget myself, but being a kid these days is A LOT! Homework. Texting. Sports. Lessons. Dances. Not-getting-invited-to-dances. Kids can get as stressed out as we do. And, in fact, their little bodies act just like ours: their stress hormones shoot up and overpower their immune system response (meaning they can’t fight bugs as well). So I dial things back for my kids when I can. I get out the coloring books and put on some good music. We all pile into my bed and snuggle up for family reading time. It’s good for the body and the soul.

Add some supplemental support

Even when I do my best to keep my kids healthy, I feel better when I add some natural supplements to our routine during sniffle season. In addition to a good multivitamin, my go-tos for extra support are vitamin C, zinc, and elderberry. And my kids LOVE Mommy’s Bliss new elderberry syrup and gummies. Pro parent tip: our gummies are so good, you can pop them in the lunchbox and kids consider them a treat.

BOTTOM LINE
  • Support your kid’s immunity so they’re ready for cold season
  • Good food, good sleep, good gut
  • Tame the stress
  • Get supplements for added support