Immune Boosting for Kids: A How-to for Parents to Avoid Cold & Flu

As parents, we all want to see our children flourish, thrive, and, most importantly, stay healthy. However, the journey from the schoolyard to home often comes with unwelcome guests—coughs, colds, and viruses. The good news is that building a robust defense against common childhood illnesses doesn't require extraordinary measures but rather consistent, wholesome practices.

In this blog, we explore how you can bolster your child's immunity through the best supplements, practices, activities, and foods, helping them to spend their time off from school with vitality and not illness.

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Immune Health: A Primer

Preventing colds and staying healthy depends on a healthy immune system. So, let's first understand what we're working with. The immune system is like a protective fortress, defending the body against invading germs and foreign substances. It's your child's first line of defense against illnesses, and its strength largely depends on their overall well-being.

The immune system is made up of a complex web of cells, tissues, and organs that communicate with each other to produce proteins and other chemical messengers. This process helps the body determine pathogens from friendly cells, and then mounts the appropriate defensive response.

Related: All About MCAS: When Mast Cells Go Haywire

Is it possible to 'boost' your child's immunity?

Contrary to popular belief, It's not possible to 'boost' immune function—at least not in the literal sense of the word. However, many of the key components that promote a healthy immune response are often lacking in modern life. 

There are many aspects of our everyday life that can make kids susceptible to viral infections, the common cold, and the flu such as (1):

When we talk about boosting immune function, we're really talking about restoring balance to the underlying mechanisms that allow for healthy, normal immune function. We want to remove any barriers that could possibly interfere with your child's healthy immune response.

How to Support Immune Function in Children

For most parents, following these foundational practices are all you need to give your child the protection they need from cold and flu viruses.

Nutrition: The Foundation of Immunity

The food your child eats can play a key role in their immune health. The best foods for immunity include those that are rich in vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin D. These foods include fruits and vegetables like citrus, berries, spinach, and broccoli, as well as sources of lean protein such as chicken, fish, and tofu. A balanced diet can boost your child's immunity, making them less susceptible to illness (2).

Vitamin C: Nature's Defender

This powerful antioxidant helps protect cells from damage and boosts the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections. Encourage your child to consume vitamin C-rich foods such as citrus fruits, strawberries, and bell peppers.

Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is essential for a well-functioning immune system. It regulates the immune response and helps the body recognize and fight pathogens (3). Ensure your child gets adequate sunlight exposure and consumes vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish and fortified dairy products. Adequate vitamin D may even help your child sleep better.

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Zinc: A Tiny but Mighty Mineral

Zinc is vital for the development and function of immune cells. It helps reduce the duration and severity of colds (4). Incorporate zinc-containing foods like beans, nuts, and whole grains into your child’s diet.

The Gut-Immune Connection

About 70% of your child’s immune system resides in the gut. A healthy gut microbiome is essential for optimal immune function (5).

Probiotics: Nurturing the Microbiome

The gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, and a balanced gut microbiome is crucial for immune function. Include probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables in your child’s diet.

Fiber: Food for Gut Bacteria

A diet rich in fiber supports a diverse and healthy gut microbiome, strengthening the immune system (6). Encourage whole grains, legumes, and plenty of fruits and vegetables in your child’s meals.

Lifestyle and Activities

In addition to what your child eats, there are several practices that promote a healthy immune system.

Regular Exercise: Moving for Health

Physical activity helps improve circulation, allowing immune cells to move freely throughout the body. Encourage your child to engage in age-appropriate activities they enjoy, from dance to sports. Children who spend more time exploring nature and playing outside also tend to have a stronger immune system (7).

Quality Sleep: The Ultimate Recharger

Adequate sleep is vital for a well-functioning immune system. It allows the body to repair and regenerate. Ensure your child follows a consistent sleep schedule, with the recommended hours of sleep for their age.

Stress Management: A Calm Mind for Health

Chronic stress can weaken the immune system. Teaching your child stress management techniques can be a valuable skill. Activities like mindfulness, yoga, or hobbies they love can help reduce stress.

Hygiene: A Shield Against Infections

Young kids are often in environments where it’s easy to spread germs. Teaching your child proper hygiene practices can help prevent the spread of illness.

  • Teach kids to properly wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Respiratory infections are often spread by droplets expelled after a cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching their face, especially their eyes, nose, and mouth.

Supplements for Boosting Immunity:

Supplements can be a great way to give your child extra vitamins and minerals that they may not be getting from their diet alone.

While a healthy diet of whole foods should always be the foundation of a child’s nutrition, there are instances when supplements might be necessary, especially if dietary restrictions are in place.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s support a balanced immune response (8). They can be obtained through fish oil supplements or algae-based supplements for plant-based diets.
  • Vitamin C: Depending on your child’s diet, consider a supplement to help them stay healthy during the winter months.
  • Magnesium: Minerals, including magnesium, are required to activate some immune cells (9). 
  • Elderberry: May reduce the duration of cold & flu symptoms to 3-4 days (10). Elderberry is most likely most effective at first onset of symptoms. 
  • Multivitamins: A child’s diet might sometimes lack certain essential nutrients. In such cases, a good multivitamin can provide the necessary nutritional support.

Shop: Suppys Chewable Multivitamin for Kids

Remember that supplements should be taken under the guidance of a healthcare professional to ensure the correct dosage and suitability for your child.

What to remember about boosting your child’s immune function.

Protecting kids from frequent illness and cold viruses is a combination of good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and regular hygiene practices. It’s about setting the foundation for a lifetime of well-being. By incorporating immune-boosting foods, maintaining a balanced lifestyle, and instilling good hygiene habits, you can help your child thrive and spend their time away from school with boundless energy rather than being under the weather. Remember, the aim is not just to prevent illness but to nurture resilience and vibrant health in the growing years.

Boosting immunity doesn’t happen overnight, but by being consistent and persistent, you are investing in your child’s future health and wellbeing.


Holistic Medicine, Immune Health, Immunity

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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.
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