9 Easy Ways to Boost Your Child’s Health

nine easy ways to boost your childs health 9 Easy Ways to Boost Your Childs Health

As parents we know how tough it is when little ones are suffering from illness or discomfort (or when they don’t sleep well!!).

Fortunately, there are some (rather unexpected) things you can do to boost your child’s health (and they are easy to do!).

1. Throw Some Salt in the Tub

Due to depleted soil and water levels, many people (including children) are magnesium deficient. If your kids are eating a healthy diet, you probably don’t need to supplement Magnesium, handful of Epsom Salts and a tablespoon or two ofSea Salt to their bath is a great way to gently boost their magnesium levels, and it will also help them relax and wind down before bedtime (so they sleep better!).

Especially for kids with allergies, eczema or asthma, this small step can often make a big difference (and in some cases, these children may need additional supplementation as well- this article explains how to look for symptoms of low magnesium and why blood tests are not a good indicator…)

The natural Sea Salt or Himalayan salt contains a lot of trace minerals and is soothing and naturally cleansing to the skin.

2. Ditch the Nightlight

To paraphrase Robb Wolf… “Your kids will be peeved when they find out you are trying to give them cancer.”

In short, exposure to artificial lights has been linked to cancer and a host of other problems. Artificial light completely halts normal melatonin production and interrupts the sleep cycle. The time during sleep is vital for tissue repair and cell growth, and interrupting the delicate hormone cycle during sleep has lasting effects.

In fact, one night of lost sleep or interrupted sleep has been shown to give a healthy person the insulin levels of a pre-diabetic. Loss of sleep or bad sleep also interferes with the pituitary gland’s proper function and the leptin cycle, both which can have tremendous consequences on a growing child.

While lack of sleep or artificial light during sleep isn’t single-handedly causing the rise of childhood illnesses and obesity, it certainly isn’t helping either!

At our house, I’ve removed the night lights and all other devices that have blue, green or red light at night (digital clocks, etc.) and just put motion activated regular light bulbs in the bathroom and hallway. Our room has blackout curtains because a light outside our window is constantly being motion activated by our animals, but I’ve just left natural curtains on their windows to let in the natural light of the moon and the sun as it comes up. We also have a rule of no TV or computer for them after dinner time so their natural hormone cycles can start kicking in.

I’ve personally noticed that the children sleep much better this way and are up much less to get water or use the bathroom. Here are some other tips for improving sleep quality.

3. Let Them Play Barefoot… in the Mud

In an age where we have the means to keep our kids clean and their feet protected by “safe” rubber soles, it’s hard to think that perhaps these methods might not always be in the best interests of our kids.

As counter-intuitive as it might sound to us as parents (and as completely intuitive as it will sound to most kids) there are naturally occurring compounds in dirt that boost Serotonin levels, which will also contribute to healthy sleep (see above). On top of that, by interacting with dirt, kids are naturally exposed to a host of  natural bacteria and pathogens that actually help strengthen the immune system. There is even some evidence that regular play time in the dirt helps keep kids from developing allergies and asthma.

Additionally, exposure to dirt can help babies’ natural iron and zinc production, even before they start solid foods.

On a separate note, some recently emerging information has shown that barefoot contact with the dirt, grass, or sand can help reduce the overly positive charge that our bodies electrons can get from being indoors and exposed to EMF and other forms of electricity all day. The earth’s negatively charged electrons can help balance this out and (surprise) also improve sleep!

4. Have Fun in the Sun

As I’ve said before (and here) we often shelter our kids from the sun and slather them with sunscreen to their own detriment.

From a previous post:

“Wearing any sunscreen blocks the body’s ability to produce Vitamin D, which is vital for hundreds of reactions in the body (including cancer prevention).

Most sunscreens also contain toxic chemicals that can be more dangerous than moderate sun exposure. As I mentioned in a previous post:

Despite the push for more awareness about sun exposure, and the advice to use sunscreen whenever we go outside, incidence of skin cancer, especially melanoma, is rising dramatically.

In fact, skin cancer rates are rising by 4.2% annually, despite the fact that we  spend less time outdoors and wear more sunscreen.”

On top of that, kids especially have a need for enough Vitamin D, which is important for their immune function, proper hormone development and bone and muscle growth. Even a low SPF sunscreen blocks the body’s natural ability to produce Vitamin D and often exposes kids to a host of chemicals.

As long as your kids are eating a healthy diet that won’t pre-dispose them to inflammation and burning, healthy sun exposure is important! For the times you’ll be out longer than their sun tolerance allows, just cover them up with a hat and layers, or use a homemade natural sunscreen.

5. Let them Eat Cake Fat

Conventional wisdom says that we should limit our intake (and our children’s intake) of saturated fats and instead give them “healthy” fats like vegetable oil. As children as young as nine are getting heart disease, this seems direly important, except that the research doesn’t support it (and those kids probably aren’t sleeping in darkness, eating real food, and playing in the dirt…). Sadly, limiting saturated fats, especially in kids, is likely to do much more harm than good, as there isn’t even a proven link between these fats and heart disease and kids need them for proper growth!

Personally, I don’t let my kids consume any franken fats like vegetable oils, margarine, etc. (or eat them myself!) because they are chemically created, oxidize quickly, and have no place in the human body! At the same time, I give them as much (healthy) saturated fat as they like (and eat it myself) in the forms of raw organic butter, coconut oil, grassfed meat, etc.

While it is important to get saturated fats from healthy sources, these fats are not the enemy, and we need them for proper body function. They also are great at keeping kids satisfied after meals, improving hormone levels and for supporting brain and bone health.

Here is one of my kids’ favorite recipes and they are loaded with healthy fats: Chocolate Coconut Clusters. You can also just let them snack on wild-caught salmon, grass-fed beef, and hard boiled eggs to boost healthy fat levels.

6. Make Some Real Soup

Another highly beneficial food that has almost completely disappeared in modern diets is quality homemade soup with real broth and stock.

There’s a reason that chicken soup is the common food during illness… our mothers and grandmothers knew something that many of us have forgotten. Broth contains tons of minerals in easy to assimilate form, and are wonderful for immune health, skin, bone and muscle growth! Real broth (i.e. not the stuff in the BPA lined can or carton) is also very simple and inexpensive to make and there tons of different variations!

Broth can be consumed on its own as a liquid (especially wonderful during illness) or as the base for soups, stews, casseroles or other foods. Broth also contains high amounts of gelatin, which is great for muscle growth, skin health and brain development, and which is one of the supplements/foods I take every day. Gelatin is a precursor for collagen production and is especially helpful for those with skin issues or thinning hair. It balances out the high amounts of muscle meats that most of us consume and gives the immune system a boost.

Most kids naturally like homemade soups and stews, and when cooked soft enough, these are also great first foods for baby, especially since babies are naturally born with a leaky gut, which allows some particles and antibodies to transfer through the gut lining and help develop their immune systems. The gelatin in homemade broth helps naturally close the gut and prevent food sensitivities.

7. Balance Their Gut Bacteria

Babies are born with a sterile gut and (hopefully) pick up some beneficial gut bacteria from mom during the birthing process which allows them to begin culturing the billions of gut bacteria that make up the micro-system of their intestines.

Unfortunately, being born via c-section (or vaginally to a mom with less than ideal gut bacteria), taking antibiotics during childhood, or a poor diet during the early years can put little ones at a disadvantage when it comes to good bugs in their bellies.

Even though (all but one of) my kids were born naturally and I took steps to make sure my gut bacteria was optimal, quality probiotics are one of the supplements that my kids get every day. As healthy gut bacteria has been linked to stronger immune function, better digestion, and fewer allergies, it is one thing I’m not willing to skimp on.

My kids also consume lots of probiotic lemonade, water kefir “soda”, kombucha “soda” and fermented foods to help naturally boost gut bacteria (no constipation around here… TMI?).

I’ve also seen probiotics (along with Gelatin- see step 6) greatly improve eczema and allergies in several children.

8. Stop Pouring Chemicals On Them!

There’s been a lot of press lately about cancer causing chemicals found in baby products, but this problem isn’t limited to baby lotion!

Many products that we use on our kids from sunscreen to bug spray to shampoo, to bubble bath, to toothpaste have harmful chemicals that can be easily avoided by using natural options. To get you started, here are recipes for:

9. Get a Move On It

Kids have a natural tendency to move and get the right kind of exercise, and sometimes we ruin this natural drive by putting them in organized sports too early (my opinion anyway).

Most kids naturally love to sprint, do pull-ups (monkey-bars), climb things, and lift heavy things. They don’t necessarily need sports or exercise regimens to do the types of movement that naturally develops their muscles. Give them access to trees, monkey bars, ropes to climb, and heavy things to play with, and they will develop great muscle tone!

Personally, our backyard is “cluttered” with a treehouse with climbing wall, trampoline, mud pit, jungle gym, climbing ladder and rope, big containers that can be filled with dirt or sand for moving, and a huge sandbox.

So, I realize that I suggested that you let your kids get dirty while barefoot… in the sun… and feed them lots of fat… and even take away their comforting night light. Many of these things might be counter intuitive or counter cultural, but I’m confident they’ll contribute to good health for your little ones.

Do you already do any of these things? Think I’m crazy for suggesting them? Weigh in below!

Reader Comments

    • says

      Yep… I’ve actually got a virtual tour of my house/day in the life post in the works… just been hesitant to publish b/c not sure anyone would be interested…

      • Sahar says

        Can you recommend a way to detox my little one after she’s received her vaccines. Im concerned about the poisons in the shots that are injected into her bloodstream.Thank you for helping my family and I lead a healthy lifestyle!

        • Sage says

          Hi Sahar ! Well ,Most of the time shots do more bad than good. My cousin has autism due to vaccines and lead paint… If you have control over what shots your kids get, do whatever you can to get rid of as many as you can!!! My baby brother and sister have never had shots in there lives, and they a of the healthiest kids ive seen! So, only give your kids the necessary shots. But, if the deed is done lay bath will do the trick! Check out gutsy for details.

  1. Cassiemeadows says

    Awesome!! We try to do all of these here! I didn’t think about organized sports confining and not great but maybe I’ll think twice about it. I shared this on my fb!

  2. Karyn says

    I love this post – great ideas! I’m curious how you handle a few things. Do you have a suggestion for clocks; I need an alarm clock so my husband can get to work but I agree about the irritating light? Yet I haven’t seen any non-glowing clocks. Second, did you co-sleep with the baby and how did you handle nighttime feedings and/or just wanting a nightlight on to see the baby? Third, my kids run barefoot but I worry about pinworms. Any thoughts on the parasite issue? Your blog is a great resource; thanks for your work!

    • says

      Great questions… I found an old school alarm clock at target for $10- it even has the bells on the top! There are also ones that only light up if you tap the button, but they are more expensive. I usually co-sleep with the baby, so I don’t even wake up when she nurses, but when she sleeps in her own bed, my hubby gets up and gets her and brings her to me to nurse and the hallway lights come on for him to see that. As far as pinworms… diatomaceous earth takes care of them in a couple of weeks, so I’ve never worried about it too much, and I occasionally give the kids a dose of diatomaceous earth anyway to get any eggs they might pick up…

  3. Chantel says

    Such a timely post! we have been foster parents for 3 months to a 3yo and 4yo. Unfortunately, they go to a pediatric daycare that feeds them SAD junk for breakfast and lunch. We don’t have a choice in the matter. But, they only get healthy food for dinners and on weekends and I give them the supplements you suggest for kids. I send them outside to play in the sunshine and dirt almost every day. And they haven’t been sick since we’ve had them. From what i gather from others, most kids get sick a lot. So i’m assuming its the healthy fats, plenteous proteins, vegetables and fruit and the cod liver oil that i give them daily. P.S. we had your smothered pork chops for dinner last night—so delicious! Oh, and I’ve got pumpkin cheesecake (your recipe) in the oven right now! :)
    oh, what are your thoughts on giving kids melatonin?

    • says

      That’s wonderful! How blessed they are to have such great foster parents!!! Unless suggested by a doc, I typically shy away from giving the kids any type of hormones since their bodies are almost always able to get back to the point of making them if given the correct nutritional foundation.

      • Rebecca says

        Great article, thanks!  Just a comment on the melatonin.  Tart cherry is a great source of natural melatonin that we use all the time with great results – it usually comes in the form of a concentrate (with no added anythings) which you dilute with water to make up – or dried in capsules – but these are usually better for adults as children often can’t swallow the caps (though mine like the powder straight off a spoon).  So this is a completely natural source of melatonin and definitely helps to regulate sleep cycles.  I also hear it helps prevent/treat gout  :)

  4. Shelly N says

    I’m proud to say we are on the right track on everything except the night light. My 4yo is so afraid of the dark she sleeps with a small lamp on in her room. Do you have any suggestions for breaking that habit? We never started the night light thing with my 2yo and I am so happy about it!

    • says

      Whenever we’ve had to make changes like this, we just announce to the kids in a matter-of-fact way and then don’t give on it. We had one that was afraid of the dark, and I realized later that in our case, our constant re-assurance and providing nighttime light was reinforcing his idea that there was something to be afraid of. We simply said “You are four now, which means we can’t put a night light in your room anymore because it isn’t good for your health. It’s fine if you are still scared of the dark, but we aren’t going to turn your light on and you aren’t going to be allowed to come out of your room just because you are afraid of the dark. Do you have any questions?” Surprisingly, it only took a couple of days for him to adjust, but I’m not sure if it would work with every child, or just with his type personality. Good luck with it!

      • Pam says

        It won’t work with every child, until they are ready. The high anxiety level this approach would provoke for some children can be highly detrimental to their physical & mental health.

      • says

        I agree that this won’t work with every child. I always let me kids come into my room if they are scared. I just let them lay on a blanket next to my bed. And why not? I’d rather have a secure child sans nightlight (in my room) then have a scared child sleeping alone in the dark or with a nightlight.

  5. Katie says

    Those were all things I am familar with, but it was so nice to see it all in one place.  I think will be really helpful to a lot of people.  However, I think we’d have a serious problem at our house if I tried to take away the night lights.  They were okay with losing the grains, but the lights?  Not so much.  They’re a strange kind of people, my people. 

    PS.  I also love that our fair skin family doesn’t need sunscreen now like we did when we ate grains.  It’s an amazing feeling to not be worried that in 10 minutes we’re all gonna fry.  :)

  6. Erin aussiebookthreads says

    All these seem like sensible, normal parenting to me.  To realise they may well be counter culture today is just too sad:(  

  7. Ineedchallenge says

    I too would like to see pics of your backyard since we have half an acre we’d like to outfit properly and have been looking for ideas!

  8. Katie T. says

    So excited to have found your site! I am currently learning more about magnesium deficiency and the effects of EMFs as I am having extreme sensitivity right now to my home’s WiFi. Scary to think what it could be doing to my kids. Lots of outdoor barefoot playing is on my kids’ and my agenda.

    • Joyce H. says

      My wifi is only on when we are using the computer.  It gets turned off as soon as we’re finished and never stays on gthrough the night.  Every little step we take towards a healthier life is a plus!

    • Jake P says

      You have “Extreme Sensitivity” to your home’s Wifi?
      Really? What about the millions of Cell Phone signal waves coming into your house every second? The Television waves? The satellite communication waves? The Consumer Radio AM/FM waves?
      None of those you’re sensitive to, eh? You sound like an uneducated kool-aid drinking zombie. Please do some reading about science and stop blindly following this poppycock website.
      thanks

  9. Teresa Wood says

    Thanks! Love love love this post and list! I’m going to start doing those we haven’t been and can’t wait to start making the products in #9. 

  10. Jenny P says

    Regarding bone broths – how do you “take” it?  Do you do like a cup a day yourself?  And when is a good age to introduce bone broths to children?  And would you also give them lika a 1/2 a cup or so a day unless you’re planning on having soup?  I have an 8 month old who’s still breastfed and still learning to eat (pretty much not eating many solids yet.)

    • says

      It’s actually a great first “food” as it helps gut bacteria and is full of minerals. I try to take daily and give to the kids about 1@ cup to a cup a day. Sometimes, I’ll make a quick egg drop soup with it and some fresh green onions.

      • Jenny P says

        ok, great!  He takes a bottle at daycare so I wonder if I could try a sippy cup on him with some bone broth.  We’ll see how that goes.  Thank you!

  11. wendy says

    Yes, I do some of these! Great tips! I also let my kids run barefoot in the grass as much as possible, its good for ALL of us!

  12. Nichole says

    Loved this post! Awesome part is, I’ve been either always doing these things or working on incorporating (like good fats and broths) Thanks for such an informative post! Yay for dirty, tan, playing kids!

  13. Mary says

    This is, by far, my favorite blog!

    My oldest two boys do showers instead of baths. Do you recommend using the magnesium oil spray on kids?

  14. Christine says

    I do a lot of these at different times to different degrees. Although my 9 yr. old thinks she needs a light on at night to keep the boogy things away. My in-laws think I’m crazy at times except when they do it ’cause it’s “hip to be all natural”. My girls think the epsom salt in the bath is awesome, “Like a spa!” What ever works, right? :)

  15. says

    Thanks! Never thought to put salts in the kids’ baths (not sure why), but the others are all pretty normal parenting around here. As another commenter said, it’s a bit discouraging to think that some of these things are counter-cultural. Especially bare feet. Really, it’s not obvious that shoes are not a natural part of life, especially in warm weather?

  16. says

    Some of this is a good idea, but “barefoot contact with the dirt, grass, or sand can help reduce the overly positive charge that our bodies electrons can get from being indoors and exposed to EMF and other forms of electricity all day. The earth’s negatively charged electrons can help balance this out and (surprise) also improve sleep!” is complete nonsense. Electrons can’t have a positive charge. You don’t pick up any more electrons from walking barefoot on dirt than you do from sitting on a couch. The statements here are just complete physics nonsense.

    And unless you are in a far more toxic home than most, then regular exercise and a lot of fruit and veg in the diet takes care of any issue with any free radicals.

    • says

      I’d agree that my working was poor, our bodies build up a positive charge, not the electrons specifically. I’d suggest the book “Earthing” if you are truly interested in understanding the science behind that suggestion…

      • Franchesca says

        Thank you for suggesting this book. I have to say, you have made my “wish list” on amazon grow exponentially, love all your suggestions and links :)

  17. Tina says

    Your such an inspiration .. would love to see the virtual day in the life! Thank you for all you do to bring me closer to my healthiest happiest self!!

  18. Madré Kotzé says

    Hi Katie, I need to treat my under 2 year old for pinworms and would like to try diatomaceous earth. Is he too young? Do you have an easy way of getting it in them and how long should I give it for?

  19. Jake P says

    “At our house, I’ve removed the night lights and all other devices that
    have blue, green or red light at night (digital clocks, etc.)”
    Note to author – ALL visible light, no matter what the source, is a combination of red, green, and blue. So this statement doesn’t make any sense. This is REAL science.

  20. Hannah says

    I would love to know what brand and doses you would advise for the DE. I just ordered nature’s wisdom brand. I have an 8 month old, 5 year old, 7 year old, and 8 year old. I noticed a live pinworm on baby’s anus and we’ve all taken Pinx 3 times on the last 6 weeks, repeating every 2 weeks per doctors order. But I don’t feel confident in this treatment method after research. Although I need help on DE dosing for them. Thank you! Great article!

  21. Louis says

    Hi, Katie!

    Thanks again for being such an amazing resource! Your blog has really helped my family and me in a number of ways.

    Specifically, I’ve recently taken up the practice of grounding (I prefer that term over “Earthing,” since it sounds less “New Age-y” and points to the physics concept of being electrically grounded) and found that it immediately improved my sleep. My willingness to try it out was, in large part, due to your summary of the research surrounding the practice in another post. Thanks!

    Anyway, one thing that I see missing from your list above is using something like a grounding sheet for your kids while they sleep. Of course, I see grounding generally included in the section on playing in the dirt; however, I was wondering about grounding while sleeping specifically. Have you thought about doing that, or have you tried it? I’ve shared the idea with my wife, but she’s understandably worried about the cord. If you haven’t tried it for your kids, is that your worry too? If you have tried it, do you have any tips for keeping it safe, despite the cord? The only idea I have is to tape down the cord or to eventually put the cord into some kind of temporary or permanent conduit.

    Anyway, thanks for your blogging, time, and feedback; I really appreciate it!

    • says

      I need to update that post! We do have grounding sheets on the beds now, but we had to save for them for a while. We did notice the kids sleeping better, and the cord on the sheet is completely under the mattress and isn’t above the sheet at all so I haven’t been concerned about it.

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