Let’s look at how to build an Immune System
What can you do to protect your child from the endless array of germs and viruses they are exposed to every day?
Unfortunately, in some ways, getting sick when you’re a kid is simply part of the job description. “We all enter this world with an inexperienced immune system”
Slowly, children prime their immunity by battling an ongoing series of germs, viruses, and other organisms—which is why many paediatricians consider six to eight colds, bouts of flu, or ear infections per year normal. But there are healthy habits you can adopt that will give your child’s immune system a boost.
How can I boost my 6-month-olds immune system?
How to Increase Immunity in Babies
Breastfeed Your Baby. …
Consider Giving Supplements. …
Ensure Proper Nutrition. …
Engage Your Baby in Some Physical Activity. …
Ensure Your Baby Gets Enough Sleep. …
Create a Germ-Free Environment. …
Ensure Smoke-Free Zone.
If you’re breastfeeding a baby under three months, your main defence is to carry on. ‘Breastmilk contains all the nutrients and immune-boosting goodness your baby needs,’ says GP Catti Moss. ‘If your baby is older than three months, you could give her a daily multivitamin.’ Try Vitabiotics WellKid Baby Syrup. Or, for over-threes, try Haliborange Kids Omega-3 Syrup With Vitamins A, C, D & E. Once your baby is weaned, you can boost her vitamins through food. ‘Zinc is known to strengthen your immune system, so it can resist infections like colds,’ says nutritionist Amanda Ursell. Find it in red meat, oily fish and wholegrain cereals. ‘And studies show that, while vitamin C won’t prevent a cold, it will reduce its severity and length.’ Fill up on berries, citrus fruits, dark green vegetables and brightly coloured peppers.
Keep your baby hydrated
Staying hydrated is as important in winter as in summer. ‘Water helps our kidneys to flush out toxins, so it’s vital for fighting illness,’ says Amanda. In addition, when your baby has a cold, her mucus will be drier and thicker. Drinking plenty of water will help to flush it, along with any other infections, from the body. ‘If your toddler is poorly and drinking less than usual, water down her favourite juice as an incentive to drink,’ says Catti.
Ensure your baby has a proper bedtime routine
As well as making children cranky, lack of sleep leaves them more prone to infection. If you haven’t done so already, establish a bed and naptime routine. A recent study at University College London found children who had regular bedtimes slept more soundly. Fresh air also helps them slumber – research at Liverpool John Moores University found that being outside in the late afternoon helped babies and children rest better at night, because it sets their circadian rhythm – their internal body clock.
Sleep on sheepskin
Cosy pram or buggy liners made out of sheepskin could actually help to boost your baby’s immune system. A recent study from Germany found babies who sleep on animal fur for the first three months of life are almost 80% less likely to have asthma when they’re six years old. This also ties in with previous research suggesting that children who grow up with pets are less likely to develop asthma and allergies because the microbes in animal skins help to build up a stronger immune system.
At what age is a baby’s immune system fully developed?
“An infant’s immune system doesn’t mature until around 2 to 3 months,” Dr. Sabella says. “In those first few months, the immune system — especially cell-mediated immunity — becomes more developed. This is very important in helping a child fight off viruses.”
Boost your baby’s EFAs
Tucking into oily fish such as salmon isn’t just good for boosting brain development, the high levels of essential fatty acids (EFAs) have also been found to help improve immunity in children. Admittedly not the easiest tastes to get past weaned children!
EFAs are needed to help white blood cells – which fight off infection – to function. A study in the Journal of Immunology discovered that children with a history of respiratory infections get better more quickly when taking EFA supplements.
How to build an Immune System, written by Sandra Palmer-Snellin, published October 2020