8 Steps to boost your child’s immunity this winter
The immune system is like a fort that protects our body against infections like fungi or parasites, bacteria, viruses, etc. Our immune system can discriminate effectively, between the body’s cells and foreign infections, and kills the infective agent entering our body by different mechanisms. A weak immune system makes us vulnerable to various kinds of infections, which can be detrimental to a growing child. Children usually have an immature immune system which gradually develops as they grow. Here are a few healthy habits you can adopt that can help your child develop a strong immune system.
1. Stick to Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding (BF) is the number-one way to support your baby's immune system. The thin yellow 'pre-milk' that comes from the breasts during the first few days after childbirth, is called Colostrum. It is abundant with antibodies that fight the diseases. Studies have shown that babies who are breastfed for at least six months have a better developed immune system and are less prone to ear infections, allergies, diarrhea, pneumonia, meningitis, urinary tract infections. One reason mother's milk is so unique and potent may be human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) and special prebiotics that are abundant in breast milk. HMOs feed the good bacteria in your baby's gut & help to support the baby's immune system and digestive system.
2. Follow the Immunisation schedule
Ensure that the vaccination schedule advised by the pediatrician is followed and the child gets the required shots on time. Vaccination is designed to protect children from various serious infections, building an induced immunity. This is vital for all children.
3. Serve a balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruits A well-balanced diet rich in veggies and fruits is the key to develop good immunity. Carrots, green beans, oranges, strawberries, berries, bell peppers, and broccoli are rich in antioxidants that fight off infections. Oranges and citrus fruits are rich in Vitamin C. They boost immunity and act as a hurdle against infections. Green leafy vegetables like spinach have a high content of iron. They help in the production of white blood cells (WBC) and antibodies. Nuts, seeds, grains, and beans are the source of omega fatty acids. Eggs are a good source of protein and fat. They can be added to the daily diet in various forms.
4. Use yogurt for a healthy gut
Yogurt is rich in probiotics, which aids the growth of good bacteria & keeps the intestinal tract healthy. This dairy product is rich in calcium and several other nutrients that help maintain strong and healthy bones.
5. Ensure your child gets sufficient sleep
Research has shown that adequate sleep naturally boosts our immunity. Most children need between 10 to 14 hours of sleep. Try to give an oil massage or read a story to your child to help them fall asleep.
6. Play with your child to stay fit as a family
Regular exercise plays a vital role in overall fitness. Playing in the park, garden, or playground can be amazing for a child’s health. It helps to boost the immune system. Exercising together or playing a sport as a family is fun and a great way to bond and stay healthy. Whenever possible, take children outdoors for fresh air, it helps in making vitamin D too.
7.Practice Hygiene Good hygiene keeps away harmful germs and reduces infections. Simple practices like washing hands after play, before and after meals, after coughing, and after using the toilet should be taught regularly, so they become a habit. Advise children to brush their teeth after waking up in the morning and at night before going to bed.
8. Let them get a little Dirty
Encourage your child to explore outdoors, play with pets, run around barefoot in the grass. Allow children to get a little dirty, which can help them get a dose of healthy bacteria. However, do ensure proper hand-washing when they come indoors.