Children’s Health Challenges and Support Strategies
Raising children is a lot of joy. It’s also a big commitment and comes with a lot of concerns. As a parent of four young children (David and Joshua 6, Joyful 4, and Shine 9 months), I know that. You want the best for your children, protect them, and support their health. In this article, I want to go over common children’s health challenges you may experience and offer you some tips on how to support your children’s health and well-being naturally and with ease.
In this article, you will understand common children’s health concerns your child may experience. I will go over common children’s root health cause factors to consider. I will offer my top children’s natural support strategies to improve your child’s health and well-being.
Common Children’s Health Concerns
We all wish our children went through life without any health concerns and problems. However, there are some common health concerns most children experience growing up. Here are some of the most common children’s health concerns:
Children need a lot of sleep. Infants need between 12 to 16 hours of sleep a day, including naps. Toddlers need 11 to 14 hours a day, including naps. Children between ages 3 and 5 need 10 to 13 hours of sleep, including naps. However, children can struggle with a variety of sleep problems, especially when they are young. A 2021 study published in BMC Pediatrics has found that 22.6 percent of children and 20.0 percent of adolescent participants had sleep problems (1).
They may experience bedtime fears, night terrors, nightmares, insomnia, bed-wetting during sleep, and sleep water. Some children may feel restless and not tired when bedtime comes. Others, no matter how tired they are, may act agitated or hyper. Some children have difficulty falling asleep without their parents being by their side. Some children wake up in the middle of the night, feel wide awake, and disrupt their parents’ sleep.
Sleep problems, just like in adults, can cause a variety of difficulties during the day. They may feel tired, irritable, or cranky. They may seem spaced out or have trouble concentrating. They may pass out sleeping unexpectedly, especially during car rides or after big melt-downs. They may fall asleep outside of nap and sleep times but then have trouble sleeping when they should.
Colds and Congestion
When children are born, they are born with an innate immune system they get from their mother during development. As they start growing after birth, they begin to develop their adaptive immune system, the immune system we all develop throughout our lives by being exposed to microbes and chemicals released by microbes.
As a 2015 review published in the Proceedings of Biological Sciences explains, because children’s adaptive system is still developing, they are at risk of getting sick from pathogenic viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites (2). Getting a cold with congestion, sneezing, coughing, and sore throat is common in children, especially when they start attending a new daycare or school and during the cold season.
Though colds and congestion can be uncomfortable, they are not a major concern. They go away quickly, and in the long term, make your child’s immune system stronger.
Skin Reactions & Injuries
Skin reactions and injuries are other common issues that children experience. No wonder us, parents, are a walking pharmacy with Band-Aids and other tools to tend injuries and skin reactions. Your child will inevitably experience some mosquito bites, bug bites, poison ivy, hives, allergic reactions, and rashes. Chafing and diaper rash are common. Sunburn can happen when spending time outside, especially with children with pale skin.
As your children run around, inevitably, they will fall and bump into things. Scrapes and bruises can be everyday occasions. Sometimes, bigger injuries that require stitches, a splint, or a cast may also happen. According to a 2014 study published in BMC Public Health, the most common reported injury that required medical care was an open wound at 45.5 percent, followed by fractures and burns (3).
Occasional digestive problems, such as tummy aches, hiccups, burping, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, are common in children. In some cases, they can become a more common issue. Some children may have problems with their appetite or experience reactions to specific foods.
Regular digestive issues may be a sign of an underlying issue. It’s common for parents to discover that their child is allergic to casein, dairy, gluten, or other foods. Persistent issues may also be a sign of Celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease (IBDs).
Since gut health is connected to the rest of the body, chronic digestive problems and gut imbalances can lead to other, non-gut health issues during childhood and into adulthood. A 2013 study published in Pediatrics has found that children with a functional abdominal disorder, similar to symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), become increasingly vulnerable to anxiety disorders in adolescence and adulthood (4).
Allergies and Eczema
Allergies and eczema are among the most common children’s health concerns. Stuffy nose and congestion during childhood may not always be from a cold or respiratory condition but allergies. Children may develop congestion, stuffy nose, red and watery eyes, hives, rashes, or itching from all kinds of things. Pollen, dust mites, and mold are common culprits of respiratory reactions. Bee stings and insect bites may also cause reactions.
Natural rubber latex and other materials may cause skin reactions, such as eczema. Food and certain medicines may also be a concern. In some cases, children may develop more serious asthmatic reactions of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. According to a 2001 review published in Pediatrics Child Health, genetic and environmental factors may both play a role in childhood allergies.
If there is a family history of allergies or eczema, children have an increased risk of developing the condition as well (5). Paying attention to your children’s symptoms and identifying triggers, allergies, and sensitivities are important for reducing symptoms, complications, and chronic inflammation.
Behavioral Problems & Trouble Concentrating
Children’s health issues are not always physical. You need to be aware of behavioral, emotional, and mental health concerns as well. Behavioral issues in children may include temper tantrums, being angry, arguing often, being spiteful, being resentful, physically acting out, or physically hurting others. Some children may have trouble concentrating or staying calm.
Behavioral and concentration issues are sometimes connected to early childhood emotional and behavioral disorders, such as attention deficit disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, learning disorder, conduct disorder, or other emotional issues.
A 2018 review published in the World Journal of Clinical Pediatrics has found that behavioral and emotional issues in childhood are often associated with poor psychosocial, academic, and occupational functioning, and may impact not only the child but the family and society (6).
Trauma, Bruises, and Pain
Bumps, falls, and other minor accidents are common in children. They may lead to minor bruises, cuts, scrapes, bleeding, swelling, inflammation, and pain. They may also lead to more serious trauma, fractures, and breaks.
As a parent, it’s best to keep an emergency kit handy to deal with your child’s bruises, minor injuries, and aches. I recommend keeping around the following:
- Epsom salt: A 2015 study published in Pediatric Dermatology has discussed the benefits of saltwater baths (7). Epsom salt baths can be very soothing for minor muscle pains.
- Essential oils: Peppermint and frankincense are cooling and calming when applied topically and massaged into the affected area. A 2011 study published in Vestnik Otolorinaringologii has found that essential oils may be helpful for respiratory symptoms as well (8).
- Arnica: A 2003 study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine has found that arnica gel may be helpful for reducing bruising after surgeries (9). Homeopathic arnica gel or cream can be very helpful for bruises and bumps.
- Ice or heat pack: According to a 2014 review published in Postgraduate Medicine, using ice and heat therapy may help to improve blood flow and to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling with acute injuries (10). Ice packs are great for swelling, inflammation, and pain. Heat packs can also be soothing for pain, especially muscle tension. A reusable microwavable rice sock is a great option for pain relief. You may also try a hot water bottle or infrared heating pad.
- PureWave massage tool: According to a 2019 review published in Children (Basel), pediatric massage therapy may offer benefits for a number of childhood health concerns (11). Applying massage at home may help with minor soreness and pain. The PureWave massage tool is fantastic for pain and soreness.
Children’s Health Root Cause Factors to Consider
If you want to reduce the risk and improve the symptoms of common childhood challenges, you have to consider some of the main root cause factors of children’s health issues. These children’s health root cause factors can increase the risk of childhood health challenges, worsen symptoms, increase frequency, and delay recovery. If you want to reduce risks and improve symptoms, you have to address these children’s health root cause factors.
Poor Nutritional Habits
Poor nutritional habits are one of the number one underlying root cause factors of common children’s health challenges children face. Establishing healthy nutritional habits starts at breastfeeding, continues as you introduce solids, and from then it’s an ongoing, daily practice.
Unfortunately, poor nutritional habits are common. Many parents are busy are choose unhealthy fast food, processed foods, and packaged meals. Candy, cake, and other sugary, unhealthy snacks are often used as a reward, celebration, and treat. On top of that, many of our daycares and schools are not providing nutrient-dense meals either but offer processed, unhealthy options. Furthermore, just like their parents, many children end up skipping meals or eating in a hurry without learning to chew their food and focus on their meals.
Poor nutritional habits will not only contribute to poor nutritional habits in adolescence and adulthood, but can increase the risk of health challenges in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. According to a 2013 review published in Pediatric Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism has found poor eating habits, including skipping breakfast, eating sugary food, drinking sugary beverages, and eating in front of the TV, are the main cause of obesity in childhood (12). A 2019 review published in Nutrients has found that a poor diet can lead to functional gastrointestinal problems in children (13).
A 2014 systematic review published in the American Journal of Public Health and a 2011 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition have found that poor nutrition can cause mental health challenges and behavioral problems in children (14, 15).
Mental health and behavioral issues linked to poor nutritional habits may include but are not limited to depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, conduct problems, and problems with peers. Poor nutritional habits included eating too much sugar, saturated fat, processed food, or junk food, restricting food, binge eating, and emotional eating.
Stressful Environment and Physical/Emotional Trauma
Growing up in a stressful environment and experiencing physical or emotional trauma can have a major impact on a child’s physical and emotional development and health. It may have an impact all the way to adulthood. There are different types of trauma: large ‘T’ traumas and small ‘t’ traumas.
Large ‘T’ traumas major traumatic events that can be difficult to cope with and may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health challenges. Small ‘t’ traumas are events that are not threatening but can still disrupt emotional functioning and can be difficult to cope with for children. Small ‘t’ traumas can still lead to mental, emotional, behavioral, and physical health challenges, especially when these small ‘t’ traumas add up or the child is not experiencing enough support from parents, teachers, or friends.
Some children experience large ‘T” traumas, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, neglect, bullying, major accidents, major natural disasters, war, or terrorism. However, all children will experience some small ‘t’ traumas that may be emotionally difficult for the child.
These may be an interpersonal conflict with a friend, losing a favorite toy, unkind words from a teacher, friend, or family member, relocating to a new school or now city, or minor injuries. Children may experience stress because of financial troubles in their family, marital difficulties or divorce between parents, school stress, and so on. Ongoing stress, stressful situations, and small ‘t’ traumas can become particularly difficult when ignored and when children are not supported by parents, teachers, or other loved ones.
Stress, living in a stressful environment, and trauma can lead to emotional, behavioral, and physical health issues in children. A 2012 study published in the Journal in Caring Sciences has found that stress can lead to worry, fear, fast heartbeat, headaches, fatigue, chills, and sadness in children (16). A 2019 study published in Frontiers in Pediatrics has found that stress can cause digestive issues, including flares and symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBDs) in children (17).
A 2014 review published in Children (Basel) has found that chronic negative stress may increase the risk of depression, PTSD, behavioral issues, obesity, heart problems, lung issues, and cancer (18).
According to the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, going through major traumatic experiences, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, neglect, parental divorce, addictions issues at home, incarceration of a parent, mental illness of a parent, and other factors can increase the risk of a variety of health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression, anxiety, addictions, and more (19).
Poor Sleep Habits
Getting plenty of restorative sleep and naps is incredibly important in childhood. Yet, so many children struggle with not enough sleep, poor sleep, and poor sleep habits. According to a two-year, 2016 – 2018 study published in 2021 in the MMWR and Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, about close to 60% of children between age 4 months and 17 years get less sleep than recommended (20). Certain factors, including living below the federal poverty line, mental health issues at home, disability and special needs, adverse home-life situations, and lower educational status of the caregiver, can increase the risk of poor sleep.
However, poor sleep habits of children happen frequently even in households that don’t struggle with these problems. Poor nutritional habits, such as too much sugar and sugary drinks, can increase the risk of poor sleep habits and poor sleep. Stress can contribute to poor sleep as well.
Not having a sleeping schedule or a chaotic schedule of a parent can also lead to poor sleeping habits. Sitting too much in front of the TV, video game, and other electronics can also cause an issue. Some kids don’t do well with having light in the rooms. Others may be afraid in the dark or sleeping alone.
Unfortunately, poor sleep habits in children can lead to health challenges. According to a 2020 study published in BMJ Paediatrics Open, sleep issues in infants can lead to behavioral and emotional issues in toddlers (21). A 2017 study published in Academic Pediatrics has found that poor sleep between age 3 and 7 may lead to cognitive and behavioral issues later in life (22).
According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Medical Science, sleep issues, including sleep apnea, can decrease the immune health of children (23). A 2018 study published in Clinical Pediatrics (Philadelphia) has found that poor sleep in children may increase the risk of gastrointestinal problems (24).
Gastroenteritis is a common infection of the intestines. It may be caused by bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections. It can lead to abdominal cramps and pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It may be mild, lasting for less than a day or may last for several days. Gastroenteritis and other tummy issues are quite common in children, and many go through more than one bout of infection a year.
According to a 2019 report published in American Family Physician, acute gastritis in children leads to 1.5 million doctors office visits, 200,000 hospitalizations, and 300 deaths a year in the United States (25). In most cases, these infections are not serious and can be managed at home. Avoiding and treating dehydration is the most critical aspect of care.
However, we must note that gut microbial balance is critical in childhood. When bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections are frequent or chronic and cause major microbial imbalance, it can lead to more serious and chronic health issues in children.
According to a 2021 prospective cohort study published in BMJ Open, gut microbiome imbalance and gastrointestinal infections can affect child growth (26). According to a 2018 study published in Current Opinions in Pediatrics, gut microbiome health can affect the health of the immune system, nervous system function, growth, and the risk of asthma, IBDs, and other chronic diseases in children (27).
Food sensitivities and food intolerances are quite common in children. Some of the most common food sensitivities in children include lactose, dairy, wheat, gluten, fructose, and additives. However, your child can be sensitive to a less usual suspect.
Additionally, children may also deal with food allergies. According to a 2018 study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 7.6 percent of children have food allergies, 2.2 percent of children are allergic to peanuts, 1.9 percent to milk, 1.3 percent to fish, 1.2 percent to tree nuts, and 0.9 percent to eggs (28).
Food sensitivities can lead to stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, and other digestive discomfort. They may also cause hives, rashes, and skin problems, and other health issues. A 2019 study published in Medicina (Kaunas) has found that sensitivity to cow’s milk may lead to atopic dermatitis in children (29). A 2018 study published in Nutrients has found that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may cause digestive issues in children (30).
Nutrient deficiencies in children can also increase the risk of health issues. Common nutrient deficiencies in children may include but are not limited to vitamin D, magnesium, omega 3 fatty acids, and zinc. A 2010 study published in the London Journal of Primary Care has found that vitamin D deficiency in children is common and may increase the risk of diabetes, seizures, pulmonary tuberculosis, and immune health issues (31).
A 2009 study published in Pediatric Research has found that vitamin D deficiency in children may increase the risk of pediatric infections and immune function problems (32). A 2011 book published by the University of Adelaide Press has found that magnesium affects the central nervous system and magnesium deficiency in children may increase hyperactivity and symptoms of autism (33).
According to a 2011 study published in Lipids and Brain, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the cognitive development of children (34). According to a 2019 study published in Brain Sciences, omega-3 deficiencies are common in children with attention-deficit and hyperactive disorder (35). A 1998 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that zinc deficiency may affect cognitive and motor development, neuropsychologic functioning and activity, and cognitive performance in children (36).
High Toxic Load
Environmental toxins are everywhere, in our water, air, food, and products. They affect all of us, and they can seriously affect your children’s health. According to a 2011 cohort study published in Physiology and Behavior, mold exposure may affect the cognitive development of children (37).
A 2020 systematic literature review published in Tobacco Induced Diseases has found that having exposure to secondhand smoke may affect the growth outcome of children (38). A 2006 review published in Acta Pediatrica Supplement has found that cadmium may cause a variety of issues in children, including neurologic problems, lung and immune health issues, developmental issues, endocrine issues, HPA dysfunction, and immune health problems (39).
A 2020 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that maternal glyphosate exposure may increase the risk of autism-like behavior in children (40). A 2010 study published in the Canadian Family Physician has found that lead exposure may lead to cognitive and motor problems, attention deficit, hyperactivity, brain and neurologic problems, anemia, and abdominal pain in children (41).
A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has found that mercury may cause developmental health issues in children (42). A 2020 prospective cohort study published in Environment International has found that arsenic exposure through water or food may increase the risk of cognitive problems in children (43).
Children’s Health Natural Support Strategies
Addressing common root cause factors behind children’s health challenges is critical for improving your child’s health. Here are the top children’s health natural support strategies I recommend for improving your child’s health and wellness.
Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition Plan
Poor nutrition habits and nutrient deficiencies are common root cause factors that play a role in children’s health challenges and may cause issues in the long run as well (12). A 2019 review published in Nutrients has found that a poor diet can lead to functional gastrointestinal problems in children (13, 14, 15, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36). Following an anti-inflammatory nutrition plan can help.
A 2019 study published in Pediatric Annals has found that an anti-inflammatory diet can reduce the risk of obesity, improve academic performance, support cardiorespiratory fitness, lower the risk of diabetes, reduce the risk and symptoms of asthma and allergies, support liver health, and reduce symptoms of ADD/ADHD (44). A 2017 systematic review of randomized controlled trials published in Biological Research for Nursing has found that an anti-inflammatory nutrition plan may reduce obesity in childhood (45).
A 2018 study published in Public Health Nutrition has found that an anti-inflammatory diet may improve cognition and academic performance in children (46). A 2021 study published in Pediatric Rheumatology has found that an anti-inflammatory diet may reduce joint pain and joint problems in children (47). A 2020 study published in Environmental Research has found that an organic anti-inflammatory diet may reduce glyphosate toxicity in children (48).
Support your children’s health with an anti-inflammatory diet. Avoid giving them sugar, such as candy, cakes, and sugary drinks. Avoid refined vegetable oil, additives, artificial ingredients, overly processed foods, junk food, and unhealthy fast food. Provide them with anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense whole foods such greens, vegetables, sprouts, fruits, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry and eggs, wild-caught fish, and wild game. Buy organic food and focus on home-cooked meals as much as possible.
Provide them with balanced meals and snacks to meet their macronutrient and micronutrient needs. Healthy fats are very important for children for healthy development. I recommend lots of avocadoes, olives, olive oil, grass-fed butter and ghee, coconut oil, and coconut butter.
For carbohydrates, I recommend fruits, such as berries, apples, and bananas, and starchy vegetables, such as carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes. For protein, I recommend pasture-raised and grass-fed animal protein. Allow them to explore food with joy to find what they love and make them feel good.
People often ask me what Angel and I are giving our children. An example of a lunch I shared recently maybe some grass-fed cheese, roast beef, wild-caught salmon, olives, and carrots. Sometimes they get celery, cucumbers, bell pepper, pickles, hearts of palm, sauerkraut, artichokes, or other veggies. For dessert, they get fruits, such as berries, apples, and oranges. They also love paleo and keto protein bars and sometimes we make healthy desserts or snacks that you can find on my website under recipes.
If you want to see more examples, you can follow me on Instagram. I share our and our children’s meals and our grocery trips regularly. We talk about healthy nutrition choices with our children regularly with appropriate language. They understand that healthy food is important to make them strong, smart, and healthy.
Avoid Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivities and intolerances can lead to a variety of issues in children, including digestive issues, skin problems, fatigue, and chronic, unexplained issues (28, 29, 30). Avoiding food allergies is critical for children. Watch your children’s reactions to food, and if you are noticing symptoms, it’s time to look for food sensitivities.
There are various food sensitivity blood tests out there to start with. The best one I could find and often recommend to my patients is the Advanced Food and Chemical Sensitivities test. However, they don’t test for all food, and false results are not unusual.
You may try muscle response or pulse testing, but it can be difficult with young children. Additionally, I recommend an elimination diet to spot food sensitivities in children for certain. If you notice reactions, remove common food sensitivity culprits, such as dairy, wheat, gluten, sugar, eggs, fish, shellfish, fructose, tree nuts, and legumes. Remove anything else that you may suspect. After 2 – 3 weeks, reintroduce foods one by one 3 days apart. Watch for any reactions, including delayed reactions, to spot food sensitivities. Remove any problematic foods from their diet right away.
Food sensitivities can change over time, so it’s a good idea to test once a year or if symptoms re-appear. You may try to reintroduce a food after a long time has passed to see if they are still sensitive. However, I recommend removing sugar, wheat, gluten, and foods with additives for life regardless of their reactions. These are highly inflammatory foods that shouldn’t be in your child’s diet.
Reduce Digital Screen Exposure
Digital screens are increasingly around us. It’s not only TV anymore but computers, laptops, tablets, and phones. Tablets and laptops are increasingly used at schools. Online learning became a norm during the pandemic. It is also tempting for parents to just turn on a cartoon or give their children a tablet to play with to stay quiet or calm down.
Unfortunately, too much digital screen time pause potential risks to your children’s cognitive, psychosocial, behavioral, developmental, and physical development and health. A 2021 cross-sectional analysis published in Frontiers in Psychiatry has found that 45 percent of children are exposed to digital screens before their first birthday, and 20 percent spend up to one hour in front of the TV (49). Researchers found that digital screens may replace valuable activities important for the development of children and may affect language development, socioemotional development, sleep, and obesity rates in children.
A 2020 study published in the Italian Journal of Pediatrics has found that digital screen time may affect the behavior of children between ages 3 and 6. Too much digital screen time may lead to anxiety, depression, attention problems, hyperactivity, withdrawal, aggression, and somatic problems (50). A 2018 study published in Paediatric Child Health has found that digital screen time before the age of 5 can affect the developmental, psychosocial, and physical development and health of children (51).
Reducing screen time is critical for your children’s health and development. Don’t let them ‘be’ on digital screens all they long and avoid using digital screens as a way to distract, calm, or quit your children. Keep your children accountable. Put hand-held devices out of reach. Reduce your own use of phones, tablets, and other technology to show a good example and to stay engaged with your child.
Instead of ebooks, try to use real books and activity books or hands-on learning. Use digital screens as little as possible and always with a purpose. Spend time playing outside as much as possible. When indoors, choose playtime with physical toys, dancing or other physical activities, coloring, arts and crafts, or reading time. Team sports and other group activities will help them develop friendship, collaboration, leadership skills, and the ability to go through challenges as a team.
When watching TV or using digital screens, do it together. Talk with your child, have a discussion, and engage in bringing in real-life experiences, build language skills, and build cognitive skills, such as thinking, memory, and attention. You may put on a program that engages them in an activity, such as singing, dancing, or other movements. My children enjoy singing and dancing along with Christian worship songs. It enhances their cognitive, emotional, and spiritual development while allowing family time.
Encourage Time in the Sun, Nature & Playing
Vitamin D deficiency is quite common in children. It can lead to an increased risk of immune system problems, pediatric infections, diabetes, seizures, and other health issues (31, 32). One of the best ways to improve vitamin D levels is to spend time outside in the sun. Beyond optimizing vitamin D levels, spending time outside and in nature has many health benefits.
They will breathe in the fresh air. While playing and running around outside, they will get some exercise without effort improving their physical health and reducing the risk of weight problems. Spending time outside in nature may improve their relationship with nature and our planet. A 2020 review published in Frontiers in Psychology has found that developing a connection to nature can improve the behavior and happiness of children in a sustainable manner (52). It may improve imagination, creativity, mental health, and sleep.
Make sure your children spend several hours outside every day if possible. Break it up and spend some time outdoors in the morning, mid-day, and afternoon. Run around, play catch, hide and seek, or other games. Play in the sandbox. Collect some rocks, leaves, or other treasures. Learn about nature together by observing flowers, trees, rivers, and animals. Plant a garden together or go vegetable or fruit picking. Don’t let the weather stop you, play in the snow, jump in puddles, bundle up, and go for a walk.
Optimize Sleep Habits
A 2016 – 2018 study published in 2021 in the MMWR and Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report has found that about one-third of children get less sleep than recommended (20). Poor sleep and poor sleep habits may affect the cognitive, emotional, behavioral, immune, digestive, and overall health and development of children (21, 22, 23, 24). Optimizing your children’s sleep habits can support their daily energy, immune health, emotional well-being, cognitive development, behavior, and physical health.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Caring Science has found that pre-sleep habits, the duration of sleep, and sleep schedules are all important when it comes to sleep (53). Researchers found that digital screen time can interrupt the sleep/wake cycle, sleep patterns, and sleep schedules in children. Reduce digital screen time as much as possible and avoid it completely several hours before bed and nap time.
Establish a routine and stick to it every day. Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day. Keep nap times at the same time as well. Establish a daytime and pre-sleep routine that your child knows and is comfortable with. If your children are in daycare or school, make sure that you understand their nap schedule and daily activities to create a supportive morning, evening, and bedtime routine complimenting their schedule outside of the home. Try to keep to the same routine during the weekend as well.
Provide them with a nutrient-dense diet and avoid food too close time bedtime. Spend time outdoors and have physical activities throughout the day to use up all their physical energy. Ensure that the time before bedtime is relaxing without digital screens, sugar, or too much excitement. Read a bedtime story and cuddle up before going to sleep. Time for mindfulness, gratitude, and prayer in the evening is a great idea to establish calm, safety, and connection.
Make sure that your child feels safe and comfortable in their bedroom. Check the lights and the noise level in their room and make sure it’s appropriate for sleeping. Dark rooms are ideal, if your child doesn’t feel comfortable in the dark, use some small nightlights. Keep the noise level down, including noise coming from other rooms.
Remove Toxic Household Products
Environmental toxins can cause chronic and serious health challenges in children (37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43). Reducing your child’s exposure to environmental toxins and removing toxic household products is critical for their health. Ensure that they grow up in a mold-free environment. Check your house for mold, including hidden mold in bathrooms, kitchens, basements, under the carpet, and behind wallpaper.
If you have mold, get it professionally removed or move to a mold-free home. Reduce the risk of mold by controlling moisture levels, reducing moisture leaks, addressing any flood issues right away, and using a dehumidifier in humid areas (eg. bathroom) and during hot, humid months. Use a high-quality HEPA air filtration system or Air Doctor to reduce mold toxins and other toxins and allergens from your indoor air and improve indoor air quality.
Use a quality water purifier and give your children purified water over tap water. Replace chemical-filled conventional cleaning, body, and beauty products with organic, natural, and homemade options. Reduce the use of plastic, especially BPA. Use alternatives made with cloth, wood, bamboo, ceramics, and glass. Instead of plastic bags and bottles, pack your children’s lunch in silicone bags and boxes. Avoid synthetic and allergy-triggering clothing and choose organic cotton.
Avoid exposure to second-hand smoke. Reduce exposure to polluted city air and spend plenty of time in nature to breathe in the fresh air. Avoid over-the-counter and prescription medications unless absolutely warranted. If your children need dental care, go to a biological dentist that avoids toxic materials and harmful procedures, such as fluoride treatment and mercury fillings.
Improve Gut Microbiome
Digestive problems, such as tummy aches and bouts of nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting are common in children. Gut microbiome imbalances and gut infections are some of the top root causes of children’s health challenges (4, 25, 26, 27). They may lead to digestive troubles, increased infections, poor immune health, asthma, growth issues, nervous system problems, emotional and mental health challenges, other chronic symptoms, and chronic conditions.
Improving your children’s gut microbiome is important not only for their digestive but their overall health. I recommend following an anti-inflammatory, gut-friendly, and nutrient-dense diet and avoiding food sensitivities and inflammatory foods as outlined earlier. I recommend that your children eat probiotic-rich fermented food, such as sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, coconut kefir, and coconut yogurt. Additionally, I recommend using a high-quality, child-friendly probiotic blend designed specifically for children.
For children, I recommend NDF Tummy. This blend supports healthy bowel movements, digestive health, reduces stomach aches, and supports speech, communication, and sociability. It was designed with children in mind. Natural Detox Factors (NDF®) is our micronized chlorella. It sticks to heavy metals, chlorine, BPA, and pesticides and carries them safely out of the body.
It includes a powerful probiotic blend safe and appropriate for children, including lactobacillus rhamnosus, bifidobacterium bifidum, bifidobacterium infantis, bifidobacterium longum, lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus reuteri, lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus helveticus, lactobacillus casei, lactobacillus salivarius, lactobacillus paracasei and micronized chlorella (NDF®). For children 50 lbs or less, I recommend 1 ml 1 – 2 times per day, and for children 51 lbs or more, I recommend 2 ml 1 – 2 times per day.
Support the Liver and Drainage Pathways
Gut infections and exposure to environmental toxins can pose serious health challenges in children (4, 25, 26, 27, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43). Supporting the liver and other drainage pathways to detoxify the body is critical when it comes to supporting your children’s health. Unfortunately, liver problems are not unknown to children.
According to a 2018 article published by the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, based on autopsy results, 1 in 10 children has fatty liver (54). Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a serious health issue and is often linked to obesity and may increase the risk of diabetes and other metabolic conditions. According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, obesity can negatively impact liver health as early as age 8 in children (55).
Make sure that your children follow an anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense diet, meet their nutrition needs, don’t snack mindlessly, and don’t overeat. This will support their digestion, ensure a healthy body, and reduce the risk of obesity and related liver issues.
Make sure they move their body throughout the day and drink plenty of water as well for hydration and detoxification. Provide them with foods that support healthy liver function, such as blueberries, cranberries, grapefruit, grapes, beets, beetroot juice, prickly pear, cruciferous vegetables (eg. broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, cabbage, etc.), nuts, fatty fish, olives, and olive oil.
Get Rid of Gut Infections
Gut infections are common in children (4, 25, 26, 27). They may not only lead to digestive symptoms, but emotional, behavioral, and physical health challenges. Getting rid of gut infections is very important for improving your children’s health. Of course, following an anti-inflammatory, gut-friendly, nutrient-dense nutrition plan and taking probiotics designed for children is important. But to address gut infections, you may need more.
I recommend NDF Happy, a supplement specifically created for children. Natural Detox Factors (NDF®) is our micronized chlorella. It sticks to heavy metals, chlorine, BPA, and pesticides and carries them safely out of the body. This supplement is created with green walnut hulls, lion’s main mushroom, micronized chlorella (NDF®), red clover herb◊ wormwood herb, olive leaf, solomon seal root, american ginseng root, eleuthero root, sweet wormwood herb (artemisia annua), clove bud, reishi mushroom, polygonatum root, licorice root, schisandra berry, grapefruit seed extract, and stevia leaf to support the gut health and overall health of children.
It’s full of trace minerals, vitamins, and chlorella factor to support the health of children. It helps to safely remove infections and pathogens, heavy metals, and chemicals and helps to replenish adrenalin preserves. For children 50 lbs or less, I recommend 1 ml 1 – 2 times per day, and for children 51 lbs or more, I recommend 2 ml 1 – 2 times per day.
Optimize Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D deficiency is very common in children and may increase the risk of immune health issues, pediatric infections, diabetes, seizures, and other health issues (31, 32). I recommend that your children spend plenty of time outside in the sun daily to optimize vitamin D levels. I also recommend that they are eating vitamin D-rich fatty fish, egg yolks, and beef liver regularly. However, sunshine and food are not enough. I recommend daily supplementation with vitamin D3.
Pairing vitamin D3 with vitamin K2 helps improve calcium absorption and inflammation control. I recommend taking a vitamin D3 supplement with at least 3,000-5,000 IU’s of vitamin D3 and at least 90 mcg of vitamin K2. I recommend a Liposomal Vitamin D3/K2 supplement.
Typically, taking 1,000 IU per 25 lbs of body weight will help you get your levels into a healthy range. You want to test their vitamin D levels at least 1 – 2 times each year and get your levels between 50-100 ng/ml. It has been hypothesized that a therapeutic level for major health conditions is going to be between 70-100 ng/ml. Working with a functional medicine practitioner and regular testing is the best way to ensure that your children are meeting their vitamin D needs.
Consider Using Magnesium
Magnesium deficiency is another common nutrient deficiency that can cause issues in children. A 2011 book published by the University of Adelaide Press has found that magnesium affects the central nervous system and magnesium deficiency in children may increase hyperactivity and symptoms of autism (33). A 2016 study published in the Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics has found that magnesium is important for the neurodevelopment and cognitive development of children and may be helpful with ADD/ADHD (56).
A 2013 study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics has found that magnesium is essential for the bone health of children (56). Magnesium may also help with relaxation and sleep. The best way to ensure that your child has adequate magnesium levels is to use a magnesium supplement. I recommend taking Brain Calm Magnesium.
Use Bioactive Carbons or Chlorella to Detox Daily
Since gut infections and environmental toxins can pose a health risk to children, supporting daily detoxification is key (4, 25, 26, 27, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43). Bioactive carbons and chlorella may offer some detox and health benefits to children. According to a 2021 systematic literature review published in the International Journal of Food Sciences, bioactive carbon may offer health benefits for children and may be beneficial for infants who are not breastfed (58). A 2020 review published in Supplements has found that using chlorella may offer antioxidant and immune health benefits and may support blood pressure, blood glucose, lipid, and overall nutrient levels (59).
I recommend using NDF Calm to support your children’s health. This supplement is specifically designed for children. It’s not just for detoxification, but it’s important for mental health and sleep as well. This supplement supports restful sleep, emotional health, balanced mood, and low stress levels. Natural Detox Factors (NDF®) is our micronized chlorella. It sticks to heavy metals, chlorine, BPA, and pesticides and carries them safely out of the body.
It is made with agaricus blazei mushroom, reishi mushroom, micronized chlorella (NDF®), red root, milk thistle seed, olive leaf, turkey tail mushroom, fragrant solomon seal root, eleuthero root, licorice root, polygonatum root, maitake mushroom, schisandra berry, and stevia leaf. For children 50 lbs or less, I recommend 1 ml 1 – 2 times per day, and for children 51 lbs or more, I recommend 2 ml 1 – 2 times per day.
Your children will run into some common health challenges while growing up. Though this is normal, it can be challenging as a parent as well. It’s important that you know how to reduce and address common minor issues, and support your child’s health to reduce the risk of major children’s health problems. I recommend that you try my children’s health natural support strategies I recommend for improving your children’s health and wellness.
If you want to work with a functional health coach, I recommend this article with tips on how to find a great coach. On our website, we offer long-distance functional health coaching programs. For further support with your health goals, just reach out—our fantastic coaches are here to support your journey.