My first born caught a cold as a little one and I just cried! It was heart-breaking to see just a tiny little thing struggle with a stuffy nose. But soon enough I realised that little kids do get sick (in fact they get on average about eight colds a year!) so I stopped crying and focused on how to best boost their immune system.
So these are my best tips for boosting your baby’s immune system and helping them to fight off illness.
Improve Gut Health and Give A Probiotic
One of the best-kept secrets in avoiding sickness and boosting the immune system can be found in the gut. It is important to support digestive flora in the baby stage and early childhood as this plays a key role in supporting healthy bacterial balance, healthy digestive function and ultimately a healthy immune system. The best way to do this, is via a good quality probiotic.
It can get confusing to pick a suitable probiotic so we’ve done the research for you. We really love the Kids Smart Probiotic Drops, especially since they are so easy to administer with the dosage dropper and can be dispensed directly into the mouth, or mixed with milk, food, or juice.
These drops can help to ease wind and colic and to settle little tummies as well as support the immune system. They contain probiotic strain BB-12, which has been shown to specifically support children’s health by promoting a healthy digestive flora. There have been a number of studies done that show the positive benefits of probiotics for babies. One study tested the effects of Bifidobacterium lactis Bb12 on formula-fed babies. Infants supplemented with the probiotic showed evidence of improved immune function, and the supplementation may have been especially beneficial for babies who’d been delivered by C-section.
We love that Kids Smart Probiotic Drops are free from colours, flavours, preservatives and sweeteners and have a mild taste so the kids are happy to take them.
Immune Boosting Foods
There are certainly some super-foods out there that are known to be immune boosting. So when your baby does start on solids, try and include these foods in your baby’s diet to help them build natural protection against nasty bugs. Bananas and asparagus are rich in prebiotics, which help probiotics do their jobs. Poultry, red meat, beans, cheese, yogurt and whole grain bread are all good sources of zinc. Zinc plays a pivotal role in supporting the immune system and is a key factor in the production of antibodies that fight infection. Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables – like carrots, mango, peaches, sweet potato and pumpkin are excellent sources of beta carotene. In the body, beta carotene is converted to vitamin A, which helps regulate the immune system. Blueberries are a fantastic source of antioxidants and an excellent immunity booster.
Don’t Wrap Them Up In Cotton Wool
I have a friend who kept her baby indoors for the first two years of his life just in case he may catch germs or bad bacteria from other kids. When that toddler eventually went to childcare, he must have missed at least half of the year as he was always sick. When a little one is exposed to a virus and their immune system produces antibodies to fight it, those antibodies stick around — making them more likely to skid by the next encounter with that virus symptom-free. But because this boy’s mum never took him out, the little boy never had the opportunity to mingle with other kids, to get sick and get those antibodies working hard for him. So when he was exposed to the myriad of germs, his immune system had alot of catching up to do.
Obviously, the message is to be sensible – if a child is sneezing and spluttering nearby, don’t thrust your child close by so they can pick up their germs. But it’s certainly not doing your child’s immune system any favours by keeping them in a bubble.
Babies who get a proper sleep tend to get sick less. The main reason for this is that being deprived of sleep makes your baby more susceptible to infections. My baby wasn’t a great sleeper so I know that helping your baby to have a good sleep is easier said than done, but just do your best to give them an opportunity to have proper naps during the day and a comfortable sleep at night.
Keeping your baby active can diversify your child’s good gut bacteria and help boost your baby’s immunity system. Take your baby to a playground or simply take a mat and some toys to the park and have some playtime in the sun. Organised playgroups are also a fantastic option to keep your little ones active and engaged. Once they get older encourage active family time such as bike riding, hiking, skating, basketball, trampolining and tennis.
It’s OK for your kids to get dirty. But while you shouldn’t go overboard on cleanliness, you should always make sure your child washes his hands after using the bathroom, before meals and when he’s sick. Hand sanitiser gels are great if you’re out and about, but these don’t kill all active bacteria. With younger babies, wipe their hands after you’ve changed them, and try and keep toys clean. Babies at a young age put everything in their mouth so they’re more likely to catch germs from shared toys than from physical contact with other children.
What are your immune boosting tips? Tell us in the comments below.
This article was commissioned by the team at Nature’s Way Kids Smart. The MoM editorial team compiled this article after using the Nature’s Way Kids Smart products and realising that these products can help in the health
and wellbeing of our children.
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your healthcare professional. Exclusive breastfeeding is normally recommended up to 6 months old.