Winter has now set in and it can be difficult during this season to keep our little ones' immune systems healthy and happy! Michele Wilson of Frankie Apothecary makes organic skincare products for babies' and children’s sensitive skin. She shares with us her experience and tips to help avoid some of the nasty bugs that pop up with the arrival of cooler weather.
Winter wellness by Michele Wilson
Winter is now here in all its wet, windy glory. Things in our whanau have changed so much since this time last year. Eva is now in school and Frankie is in preschool two days a week, which means more exposure to nasty bugs. Frankie Apothecary is keeping me occupied, and with Dad back on night shifts, we’re all a bit busier and more tired — so it’s really important to make sure we stay as well as we can this winter.
From experience, there is very little we can do to treat bugs and colds, so this year I’ve chosen to instead focus on keeping our immune systems in tip-top shape. Here are a few of the tweaks I’ve found work well for us recently.
Good quality sleep is one of the best ways to boost our immune systems. My children go to bed earlier in the winter months and enjoy a warm Epsom salt bath followed by a massage. A gentle massage before bed can be very effective for helping babies and young ones sleep deeper and longer. For my girls, having their little backs and chests massaged by mum has become a lovely nighttime ritual.
We also use our Frankie Apothecary Breathe Easy natural chest rub. It’s designed to help the whole family sleep deeply through the night, with an essential oil blend of eucalyptus, peppermint, cypress and lemon. Kanuka is included for its traditional use as a decongestant according to Rongoā Māori, and the organic beeswax and hemp seed oil base is incredibly moisturising.
As a family we stick to a very nutritious, non-processed diet, but I try to up the vitamin C and zinc-rich foods during winter. That means lots of leafy greens in smoothies, and lots of kiwifruit, oranges, lemons, grapefruit and feijoas in my daughters’ juice and snacks. Leftover dinner or warm vegetable-rich soups for breakfast is my best tip for getting extra veggies into little ones’ tummies. Where possible, we try to grow as much fresh veggies in our garden so these are easily accessible through the seasons.
Bone broth is an integral part of my family’s diet in winter and is a very economical way of getting in a super high dose of minerals. The glycine in bone broth has been shown to help promote a better night’s sleep, and is a powerful immune booster.
Frankie has drunk a warm mug of broth every morning since she was small. Eva is a wee bit fussier, so I add the broth to all of her meals and she’s none the wiser. Bone broth is also a powerful gut healing probiotic, and you will undoubtedly see improvements in your skin if you suffer with eczema in the colder months.
Kombucha is another great immune support, and we always have a batch fermenting in our home. In winter, we love adding lots of lemon and ginger.
While you can find both bone broth and kombucha at any good organic supermarket, they are very easy and economical to make at home. Like anything, it’s getting started which takes the most time and effort!
Our vitamin D levels drop in winter, and spending so much time cooped up inside, and in close proximity to others, is a recipe for bug catching.
Rugging up warm and heading out into nature for a family walk will increase levels of vitamin D and energy, support mindfulness and mental wellbeing, and will tire little ones out for another great night’s sleep!
If the weather really doesn't allow, we do some gentle yoga stretching together in the lounge, which usually leads to some pretty funny two-year-old copycat poses! Cosmic Kids Yoga has a lot of great videos to enjoy together.
There are a lot of excellent supplements for kids, but the only one that I currently give to my girls is a good quality fish oil. I love Nordic Naturals Children's Omega-3 DHA from 100% wild arctic cod, as it supports both cognitive development and immune function.