You won’t find it in the medical textbooks, but if you’re a parent boomeranging in and out of your paediatrician’s rooms with an endlessly sniffling baby or toddler, chances are you’ve heard of ‘crèche syndrome’. It’s a colloquial term referring to a cycle of infections, usually upper respiratory, that unfortunately, commonly afflict little ones regularly attending playschool or pre-school.
It’s not hard to guess why. Babies and toddlers have developing immune systems, and frequent exposure and close contact with a range of other children results in the quick and easy spread of pathogens, no matter how much cleaning happens in the environment. Infections often get worse in the winter when the children spend more time indoors and the bugs proliferate in the closed environment.
Snotty and a bit of a wet cough may not sound like the worst, but the reality is that these ongoing infections take a big toll on parents. There’s the naturally high levels of stress that parents experience when their children are unwell; there’s lost sleep and more often than not, lost working hours too. Most parents can take this in their stride when it happens once or twice, but ‘crèche syndrome’ refers to a spate of rolling infections over an extended time, and it can easily become desperately exhausting and costly. In addition, the symptoms are not always mild, and one seemingly slight sickness can lead to other issues including ear infections, serious chest infections and gastric infections. With rosy health as an important marker of our parental responsibilities, continuous sickness in our child can make us doubt our abilities.
The good news is that you’re not alone; you’re not a bad parent and, according to Michele Carelse, Founder and CEO of online natural health and wellness retailer, Feelgood Health, there are ways to break the debilitating cycle of crèche syndrome. She says, “Parents can consider the natural treatment route and they will find that there are various easy strategies to help support their little one’s developing immune systems. Also, for those parents concerned about the efficacy of antibiotics and the impacts of frequent antibiotic use, a holistic approach can be the way to go.”
How to prevent and treat creche syndrome naturally
There are many things a parent can do to protect and strengthen their kids' immune systems. With a strong immune system, infections can be fought better and faster, and the risk of secondary infections developing is much lower. Here are some of the best proven ways to build your child's immune system:
1) Good nutrition
Many kids are fussy eaters, so parents often end up feeding them 'easy' meals, which are often highly-processed and nutrient-poor. Nutrition directly impacts health and immunity - a lack of daily nutrient-rich foods can result in susceptibility to a host of infections and increase your child’s risk of nutrient deficiencies and related health conditions. It’s important to know and understand children’s dietary requirements and discover some of the many, easy ways to serve up nutrient-dense foods that your child will happily eat. If you find that you are still struggling to turn them on to regular healthy meals, then consider a kid-friendly nutritional supplement such as Solgar's Kangavites Multivitamins, which contains all the vitamins and minerals a child needs for growth, strong immunity and healthy brain functioning in a yummy chewable form.
There’s a well-researched link between the healthy gut biome and immune functioning. An increasing number of parents are becoming educated about probiotics and have started giving their kids probiotics on a daily basis, especially before and during flu season.
3) Diffusers and essential oils
Essential oils are commonly used for their antiviral and antibacterial properties. Take note that babies and toddlers are especially sensitive to essential oils being applied directly onto their skin, so a diffuser is the best way to get the therapeutic properties of the oils into your little one's respiratory system. Some of the best essential oils for respiratory infections are eucalyptus, tea tree oil, peppermint oil and rosemary.
4) Don't dry out phlegm
Contrary to popular belief, drying out a runny nose or a phlegmy respiratory tract may not be a good thing. Mucous and phlegm are appropriate bodily responses in the efforts to rid the respiratory tract of germs. Rather than drying out the respiratory tract, use a Colloidal Silver Nasal Spray which will help loosen mucous without drying anything out. The added benefit of doing this is that colloidal silver contains powerful antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and antibiotic properties.
5) Immune-boosting supplements
Natural herbal and homeopathic remedies made from plants have been proven effective in boosting immune systems and fighting infection.
Here is Michele’s top selection of immune-boosting natural remedies for children:
BaniFlu: This homeopathic ‘flu remedy can be used by the whole family, including children and babies.
KiddieBoost: Naturally strengthens immune functioning in children and promotes your child's natural resistance to illness. This antiviral and antibiotic alternative speeds up recovery from illness and is suitable for little ones over the age of 12 months.
Sniffly Sprinkles: Sniffly Sprinkles contains a selection of 100% homeopathic ingredients to relieve sneezing quickly, safely and effectively, as well as runny and blocked noses in babies and children. It can be used for new-borns and children up to the age of 12 years.