Tips for reducing sick days for children this winter

With the temperature dropping and the daylight hours becoming shorter, energy levels and moods can take a dip as the ‘winter blues’ set in. Winter is also associated with an increase in the prevalence of common colds and flu among children, which often means more sick days. Tea4Kidz partner dietician, Mbali Mapholi, has shared some nutrition-based advice to keep the little ones healthy and at school this winter.

“Child sickness in winter can be difficult because of the loss in school time and the costs associated with managing sickness in the home, as well as the challenge of caring for sick children when parents and caregivers work full time,” said Mapholi. “Getting nutrition right at this time of year can play a key role in reducing those sick days.”

She explained that there are simple ways to boost a child’s immunity that doesn’t necessarily involve costly supplements: “Nutritious food and drinks contain a range of different vitamins and nutrients that are key to supporting the body’s natural immunity. We should always start with what we are putting into our body from a food and beverage point of view when we want to boost our body’s natural defences against colds and flu.”

Mbali Mapholi’s 3 simple tips to boost children’s immunity

1.       Feed them the rainbow

Fruit and vegetables are packed with nutrients – vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, and more. Fruits, especially seasonal fruits such as citrus, are packed with vitamin C, which plays a key role in boosting immunity. Orange-fleshed vegetables such as butternut, gem squash, pumpkin, and sweet potato are packed with vitamin A and carotenoids which have been shown to benefit immunity. Feeding children a variety of vegetables and fruits with different nutrients not only boosts their immunity, but also plays an important role in mental health and lifting their mood.

Easy and delicious Rooibos butternut soup

·  500ml water

·  3 Tea4Kidz Original Rooibos teabags

·  500 ml chicken or vegetable stock (Dissolve 1 stock cube in 500ml hot water)

·  1kg or 1 whole butternut, medium (peeled & deseeded)

·  1 Tbsp cooking oil

·  1 finely sliced, medium onion

·  1 tsp (5ml) salt

·  1 tsp (5ml) ground black pepper

·  125ml cream (optional)

Method:

·   Boil water and add to teabags to brew for at least 5 minutes.

·   Sautee onions with oil until cooked, then add butternut, Rooibos tea, stock and seasoning.

·   Boil until soft and the liquid is reduced, then set aside and blend. 

·   Add cream and serve with warm bread of choice.

Dietitian tip: Add avocado to a warm slice of bread with sprinkle of your seasoning of choice for that extra nourishment to serve with this soup.

2.       Keep children hydrated

Drinking water in winter can be difficult because it’s cold, which means a risk of dehydration and a dip in mood, exacerbating the symptoms of common colds and flu. Here are some tips for keeping children hydrated this winter:

· Add Rooibos tea to a child’s daily winter diet, like the Laager Rooibos Tea4Kidz range which is caffeine-free, naturally sugar-free, available in a variety of flavours, and with 2 flavours that are vitamin C-enriched – perfect for boosting immunity.  Rooibos can be served with or without sugar, honey or milk.

· Offer plenty of vegetables and fruit as these contain water which is great for hydration. Vegetable soup can be a great addition to a child’s hydration this winter.

· Try infused water by adding fresh fruits, vegetables slices and herbs to room temperature water as a way to entice children to drink.

3.       Get enough sleep

During sleep, the immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when a person has an infection or inflammation, or is under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease the production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when children don’t get enough sleep. Some advice for encouraging sleep includes:

·  Using Rooibos tea as a sleep antidote for children, with or without milk. A bonus is that the Laager Rooibos Tea4kidz Apple & Berry flavours and Peach & Apricot flavour are enriched with vitamin C to help support the child’s immunity.

·  Ensuring the child is comfortable and that their bedroom, pyjamas and bedding are at the right temperature to reduce fussiness and restlessness during sleep time.

·  Taking a warm bath before bedtime can encourage a better night’s sleep for children.

Laager Tea4Kidz has a selection of flavoured Rooibos teas which provide South African children with a healthier, immune-boosting drink option. The brand supports moms, dads and caregivers by providing healthy recipes and great activities to bring families closer together. For more information, visit www.joekels.co.za, @Tea4Kidz on Facebook, or @laagerrooibostea on Instagram.