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A girl playing hopscotch in a playground

Back to school: 5 essential health tips

12 Sep 2022 • 1 min read

You’ve bought the uniform, polished the shoes, and waved them off... but what about their health?

From tackling head lice to helping with their sleep, there’s plenty you can do to keep your child in good health all school year.

1. Help support their immune system

The government recommends all children from 6 months to 5 years old are given supplements containing vitamins A, C and D, the exception being for babies who are having more than 500ml of infant formula a day.1


Good hygiene is just as important as nutrition! Make sure kids wash their hands for 40 seconds:2 
  • Before eating 
  • After coughing, sneezing, touching pets, and going to the toilet 
  • Before and after handling food or touching a cut or wound

2. Get a handle on head lice

“Nits” are actually the name for the lice’s empty eggshells, not the bugs themselves. But, whatever you call them, chances are you want them gone.

Head lice travel through head-to-head contact, so they’re easily spread when children play. Catching them doesn’t mean your child has dirty hair; the lice have no preference. And it’s a myth that head lice prefer long hair! They just want to reach the scalp, so anyone with hair is at risk. Tying back long hair may help. 

Comb conditioner through your child’s wet hair with a special fine-toothed comb. This removes both the head lice and nits. 

Consistency is key, more than specific products or treatments. The NHS recommends combing every 4 days, for 2 weeks, from the day you find head lice.3 Check again on day 17. If you can’t get rid of them after that, you could try a medicated lotion or spray.3

3. Help protect against COVID-19

COVID-19 is still a concern. While we can’t avoid the risks entirely, it’s still important to take care.

Encourage your children to practice good hygiene, such as washing their hands properly and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze.2

Currently, children should stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days if they test positive for COVID-19. 

Adults testing positive should stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days.4 The best protection for everyone against severe COVID-19 symptoms is to get vaccinated.4

4. Beat bad backs

It’s tempting to load their bag with everything they could possibly need. But a whopping 72% of primary school children experience back or neck pain, and their school bag could play a part.5

Ideally, children should wear a backpack or a cross-body shoulder bag, adjusted securely to their body with wide, padded straps. If using a shoulder bag, they should alternate the side they carry it on regularly.

Also, check if they need to carry everything – can they leave anything at school instead?

5. Sort their sleep

Children with more screen time may be more likely to go to bed later and sleep for fewer hours.6 The Sleep Foundation recommends turning devices off an hour before bedtime and keeping them out of the bedroom.6 

For children who are used to TV or tablets before sleep, the transition could be easier said than done. Try activities like colouring, reading, or cuddling a pet during this time instead.

The final say

All kids will come home feeling poorly at some point. But you can help send them to school with a spring in their step!
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