Home » Wellness » How to Keep Your Kid Healthy for Back-To-School

The start of a new school year is busy enough without worrying if a cold or flu might cause your child to miss out on all the back-to-school excitement. Lesley Langille, mother of two and Registered Dietitian at the Centre for Family Nutrition and Sandra Hanna, community pharmacist and Vice President of Pharmacy Affairs at the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada have compiled a few tips to help ensure your child’s health gets top marks.

Child being walked to school by his parents

1. Remember, prevention is the best cure

The best way to ensure that your back-to-school plans don’t include illness is by being pro-active about your family’s health. “Get your flu shot. It’s my number one piece of advice and the number one advice given by Health Canada as well,” says Sandra Hanna. “In most provinces in Canada, people can walk into their pharmacy with no appointment and get their flu shots within minutes. It is generally recommended that children six months and older receive an annual flu shot.”

2. Take your vitamins

Another great preventative measure is upping your intake of vitamin C from things like fruits.  Whether or not you are sick, it can also provide a boost to the immune system. “Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of a common cold,” says Lesley Langille. For symptom management, ingredients like menthol may help with chest congestion.

3. Rest and wash up

Langille points out that regular hand washing and getting enough sleep are also important to immune health. “A lot of school lunches, like sandwiches, are consumed with the hands, so make sure kids get in the habit of washing hands prior to eating.” Setting a bedtime schedule can also help ensure your child experiences optimal health throughout the school year.

A professional can look at the symptoms and pick a product that makes the most sense for you and your kids.

Sandra Hanna, community pharmacist

4. Push proper nutrition

Eating healthy can help prevent illness, as well as assist with easing cold and flu symptoms. “The age-old cure of chicken noodle soup has some validity. Homemade chicken noodle soup not only helps flush mucous out but has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties,” notes Langille.

5. Suck on some relief

If symptoms like congestion and a scratchy throat strike, lozenges could offer some relief. “Though you should always consult your pharmacist, lozenges can lubricate the throat and provide a sense of comfort,” says Hanna. Kid-friendly cough solutions like HALLS KIDS can be especially helpful if you have picky children, particularly since they come in pop form, which kids love.

6. Consult a health care professional

Consulting an expert to ensure you’re doing what’s right for your child is key. “In all pharmacies, the cold and flu aisle is probably the most overwhelming because there are so many things to choose from,” says Hanna. “I would really recommend that people talk to their pharmacists. A professional can look at the symptoms and pick a product that makes the most sense for you and your kids. In some provinces, pharmacists can even prescribe for common ailments — professional health care advice that is convenient and accessible.”

Mother putting lunch in her young daughter's school backpack
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