How to Boost Your Baby's Immune System Naturally
How can you help your baby's immune system through the winter cold and flu season?
Your first (and perhaps your second or third) winter with your little one can be a constant round of snuffles and coughs. As soon as one illness is over, another starts – especially if they’re at daycare or have older siblings bringing germs back from school.
As tough as it is, picking up minor illnesses is important for the development of your baby’s immune system, and any pediatrician will tell you that it’s normal for kids to get sick 6 to 8 times a year. The good news is that with every cold, their system becomes stronger and learns to fight off the inevitable winter bugs.
That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t give your little one’s immune system a helping hand. Here are some simple things you can do to strengthen it.
Breastfeed if you can
If you are able to breastfeed your baby, even if only for a few months or in combination with formula, you’ll help build their immunity. Breast milk contains natural antibodies, which you’ll pass to your baby. The very first milk you produce, colostrum, is especially rich in antibodies.
But of course, breastfeeding is difficult for many moms, so if you find it’s not possible for you, don’t worry. There are many other things you can do that will help your little one build that immunity – and newborns will also have some immunity from pregnancy for at least the first few weeks.
Serve a fruit and vegetable rainbow
When your baby starts solids, get them eating a range of fruit and vegetables in all the colors of the rainbow – everything from broccoli to oranges. That way, they’ll get a range of vitamins and other nutrients that will help fire up their immune system naturally.
In particular, foods with high levels of vitamin C (like guava, kiwi and sweet potatoes) will help them fight off those winter colds.
Even if your baby isn’t mobile yet, you can encourage them to get moving even from a few months old.
Tummy time will help them strengthen their muscles and start to roll and then crawl. And once they’re crawling and then walking, they’ll get a good workout as they explore the world.
Try and get active together when you can, so you can model the healthy habits that will set them up for the future – mom and baby yoga classes are a great place to start.
Be vigilant about hand washing
Make hand washing part of your routine whenever you come in from outdoors and before food. This will help get rid of germs and avoid unnecessary illness. Even though illness can build the immune system, it’s worth avoiding it when you can.
If anyone in your house is ill, it’s also worth wiping down touch points like doorknobs and light switches, and sterilizing toothbrushes and chew toys. This should mean that germs don’t hang around and reinfect either you or your baby.
Focus on sleep
Newborns sleep around 16-20 hours a day, dropping gradually to around 12-13 hours by the time they’re 12 months. Sleep is important to growth and development, and helps build immunity too. Just as adults get more colds when we’re tired and run-down, so babies do too.
If you’re struggling with sleep, think about talking to a sleep consultant or other parents to see what you can do to improve it.
Choose European organic formula
Just as adults can strengthen their immune system by eating healthier, you can help your baby by giving them European organic formula rather than a store-bought brand.
European organic is made to the world’s strictest organic regulations, and is free of herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and unnecessary additives. That means less potential for inflammation, better health and a stronger immune system.