Ayurveda for Kids

As Ayurveda gains popularity in the west, more and more parents are discovering a blueprint for wellness that unites body, mind, and spirit—the perfect complement to their own research on ways to integrate traditional and modern medicine into their parenting methods. Just as parents intuitively consider their child’s physical, mental, and emotional development as inseparable— so does Ayurveda, making it more pertinent than ever in today’s modern world!

What exactly is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is an ancient, natural life science originating thousands of years ago from India that translates from two small words, “Ayur” meaning life, and “Veda” meaning science, or knowledge. Simply put, Ayurveda is living according to your unique makeup, or mind-body type known in Sanskrit as prakruti. In fact, this is what sets Ayurveda apart from other health sciences that take a one-size-fits-all approach to wellness.

Far from a fad (despite some current branding to health consumers), Ayurveda stays steady and true to its guiding principles, offering lifestyle routines and practices uniquely tailored to an individual’s nature that promote health and well-being, with an emphasis on prevention. And what better time to approach prevention than in childhood, the period Ayurveda considers the most essential for developing a healthy, balanced being in a person’s lifetime.

You’ve heard it over and over—the power of the mind body connection. But how exactly does this effect the developing child? Dr. Jayarajan Kodikannath, beloved Academy Director of Kerala Ayurveda and practitioner explains: All the functions of the body are carried out by three functional energies called ‘doshas’ which must be balanced to sustain the health and performance of all systems and organs. Think of it like electricity—without electrical energy, a lightbulb will not illuminate, having no function or value on its own. These energies are responsible for growth, development, and vibrancy of a child.

So how do you keep your child’s energies balanced for optimal health?

Ayurveda recognizes doshas as a part of nature, going through cyclic changes and rhythms just as we see reflected in the world around us. Simply designing things like mealtimes and sleep schedules around certain times of day has physiological effects on all systems of the body. And because Ayurveda is perfectly supported by nature just as we are, so much of Ayurveda is intuitive. For example, you don’t really feel like eating cold, raw vegetables and salad in winter. And you shouldn’t! Warm, nourishing, grounding stews and soups are best for this kapha dominant season. Which is also the dominant dosha of the age of childhood.

Without further ado, here are a couple of Ayurvedic tips for kids from Dr. J to get you started!

Bedtime: One of the best things a child can have at bedtime is some warm milk with a pinch of turmeric. This will promote sound sleep and healing, and support a healthy immune system. If the child is allergic to milk, use an alternative like almond milk, but never cold!

Screen Time: It may not be a choice to keep children totally away from screens in this modern world, but it is important to know that longer screen time and EMFs from these devices may not be good for the tender, growing minds and senses of children. Best to keep a set schedule or duration for screens to minimize exposure.

Mealtime: You may want to stop telling your kids to “just have one more bite”, and consider this instead: mealtime comprises three factors— what, how much, and when to eat. In Ayurveda, the when is considered the most important. Here’s why: everything in nature works in cyclic rhythms and everything in our body works in cyclic rhythms like the cardiac, respiratory, digestive, and sleep cycles. If you create a rhythm or schedule for eating three meals a day the entire process of digestion, absorption, and nourishment will happen seamlessly as all the digestive juices, enzymes and hormones will align to that circadian rhythm automatically over a period of just a few days!

Alyson Young Gregory is a native New Yorker, and Boston-based freelance writer, mother, and Holistic Health Educator specializing in Ayurveda. She has a passion for maximizing vitality through nutrition based on environment and individual body constitution for all ages, supporting children’s wellness policies, and finding inspiring local activities for families.