1. Slow Down and Sleep More
Like any season, it is very important for kids to be well rested and getting the healthiest amount of sleep their little bodies need for proper development. Our bodies sense the hints the season sends us - with shorter periods of daylight in the winter, kids need more sleep. With less sun light this means less time for activities. Cancel those winter activities that keep our kids over scheduled and start relaxing more. Establishing a slightly earlier bedtime than in the autumn or spring will help their natural rhythms stay in sync with nature. We like to say "Wind down as the sun goes down". Start preparing your kids for bed about 45minutes before their actual bed time so they can mentally, and physically, begin resting themselves before actually getting in bed. By easing into bedtime we can help kids wind down and by the time they are in bed they are relaxed mentally and physically for the most restful sleep possible.
2. Don't Forget Your Water
Another important thing to remember for winter is hydration. Little bodies need constant and steady liquids every day and in every season - even when they don't feel thirsty. The heat and humidity of summer, combined with sweating, make thirst feel much more urgent and obvious. But their bodies (and ours too!) need to stay just as hydrated in the winter. As parents we need to remember to keep healthy fluids available for our kids throughout the day, even when they don't ask for them! Offer them lots of water in between meals to keep their hydration at healthy levels.
3. Extra Vitamins
Vitamins are important for every season - right? But they are especially important for the winter when our immune systems are lowered and infections are on the rise. With strong immune systems kids can more effectively fight off colds and flu and keep healthy during the winter. Vitamin D levels are important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Ideally you would get vitamin D through sun exposure but most places in the United States only allow for exposure to UV-B rays April thru Sept. With that being said, you can opt for a vitamin D3 supplement. In addition to vitamin D, vitamin C is also super important - and we get our vitamin C best through fruits and vegetables. Kids can also take supplements in order to keep their levels consistent (though absorbing vitamins from their natural sources is still better!). Our kids need to keep their resistance to infection strong all winter long - and to do that we need to make sure they get the right amount of vitamins C and D every day, and from sources that make these vitamins most absorbable for their bodies. Check our Favorite Picks for the vitamins we like. **One thing to keep in mind is that our bodies are sensitive to the right level of vitamin D. To properly and accurately guard against taking too much of this vitamin, you need to have your blood tested to make sure you know the correct level.
4. Seasonal Foods
Winter is a wonderful time for warm foods. The colder temperatures outside mean that kids need warm and comforting food for snacks and meals. Choosing foods that are grown locally and that are in season in your area. Broths, soups, stews should be served at meal times during the winter. Most foods should be cooked and less raw foods should be consumed. This will keep your youngest ones healthy and keep them warm and fueled for all the activities that quickly deplete their little energy stores. You can even get your kids involved in preparing healthy, organic warm meals while they enjoy the smells and warmth from the cooking process.
5. Wash Those Hands
Like every other time of the year, we need to make sure our kids learn to wash their hands several times every day. But winter is especially important because of how many colds, infections, and outbreaks of flu occur in the coldest season. Washing hands is also a great way to teach young children about how disease and infection can be passed between people. Getting them in the habit of regularly washing their hands is important, but it is even more significant to teach them why we are washing our hands and how it relates to protecting ourselves against germs.