Back to School Immune Boosters for Kids

Aug 27, 2021 7:00:00 AM

Written By:
Dr. Stephanie O'Neill

back to school immune boosters

With many kids nationwide gearing up to head back to school in the fall, many parents are focused on immune health.

This year’s back-to-school list looks a little different, with masks and hand sanitizers being prioritized in some areas. However, general immune support for kids hasn’t changed, and focusing on keeping kids healthy can make a difference for the entire family as summer comes to an end and germ season begins.

With a focus on good hygiene practices, proper nutrition, targeted supplementation, and key lifestyle factors, your little ones can head back to school with a robust immune system.

basic hygiene for kids' immune health

It’s important to stress the importance of hygiene to young children so they can develop good habits into adulthood. The basic practices of good hygiene include hand washing, using the elbow to cover the mouth when coughing, having regular baths or showers, and brushing teeth.

Children should be reminded that hand sanitizer should not be seen as a replacement for hand washing. Proper and frequent hand washing is necessary to avoid the overuse of chemicals and unnecessary disruption of the microbiome.

We asked three reputable physicians for the fundmental steps to a stronger  immune system. Get their answers in our guide. 

nutrition for kids' immune health

Healthy foods and balanced nutrition are foundations of a healthy immune system. Unfortunately, many conventional kids’ lunch items are packaged and processed, and don’t offer much nutritional value in the form of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, healthy fats, and protein.

Make sure to pack lunches with as many fruits and vegetables as possible, and vary these choices by including colorful plant foods with a myriad of immune-supporting nutrients. Brightly colored foods like bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and others are high in free radical-fighting compounds, and are great back-to-school immune boosters.

Specific foods that are excellent for a strong immune system include guacamole, nuts, hummus for healthy fats and B vitamins, and fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso soup, and plain yogurt for gut health (avoid yogurt if your child does not handle dairy well).

Avoiding immune-suppressing foods like refined sugar and carbohydrates is also highly beneficial.

Omega-3 fats are foundational for immune health, and fish is a great source of them.* If your children won’t eat fish, you might consider supplementing with an omega-3 product, like a kid-friendly fish oil.

supplements for kids' immune health

It’s always best to put together a supplement plan for your kids with their integrative pediatrician. However, there are several immune support products that many children can benefit from, especially if they are picky eaters and are not obtaining enough vitamins and minerals from diet alone.


Omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, B vitamins, and probiotics may all play a key role in a child’s immune boosting supplement plan.* Probiotics support gut health, and it’s well documented that a healthy gut and immune system are closely linked.*[1]

It might be important to include a multivitamin if your child doesn’t get an adequate influx of vegetables and fruits. While it is ideal to obtain as many nutrients as possible from whole foods, a multivitamin can help fill any nutritional gaps (especially with picky eaters).

lifestyle for kids' immune health

Last but not least, certain lifestyle factors—like sleep and stress—can make or break immune health heading into fall.

Sleep is closely linked to a healthy immune system, and poor sleep can have a profound impact on kids’ attention, focus, mood, and more.[2] Many children have a different schedule over the summer than during the school year, so start slowly adjusting your child’s bedtime and wake-up time as you approach the first day of school, to allow for a smooth transition.

Just like adults, kids’ gut and immune health is profoundly impacted by high levels of stress. While your children might be excited to go back to school, returning to these routines can be a stressful event. Try to allow consistent, unstructured time for your children to relax and play independently, avoiding scheduled or obligatory activities during these moments. Teaching your kids about age-appropriate stress management techniques is also helpful, like deep breathing, a relaxing wind-down nighttime routine, and other strategies to manage stress.

Regular exercise is also closely linked with an improved ability to manage stress.[3] Go on walks together, let your kids participate in sports they enjoy, and seek other ways you can stay consistently active as a family.

final thoughts

As school approaches, help your kids feel empowered to take charge of their own health by teaching them how to support a healthy immune system. Education is power, and this goes for little ones too. With healthy foods, exercise, downtime, sleep, proper hygiene, and supplements when needed, your kids can head into fall healthy and happy.

New call-to-action


[1] Wu, H. J., & Wu, E. (2012). The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut microbes, 3(1), 4–14.

[2]  Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., & Born, J. (2012). Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Archiv : European journal of physiology, 463(1), 121–137.

[3] Childs, E., & de Wit, H. (2014). Regular exercise is associated with emotional resilience to acute stress in healthy adults. Frontiers in physiology, 5, 161.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.