Back-To-Nursery: 10 Ways To Boost Your Toddler’s Immunity

boost your toddlers immunity

It’s back-to-nursery time and while you’re probably excited about your little one flourishing in a new and enriching environment, you’re probably equally nervous about the prospect of all the germs and viruses they’re going to be exposed to every day. Of course, some sickness is normal and children develop their immunity by fighting germs, viruses and other organisms. That said, no parent wants to be faced with an endless round of runny noses, ear infections and tummy upsets, which is why there are some healthy practices you can adopt to give your tot’s immunity a boost. We caught up with Julia Youll, Senior Child Health Nurse at HealthBay Polyclinic. Here she talks us through 10 ways to boost your toddler’s immunity before they start nursery.

How to boost your toddler’s immunity #1: Get the diet right

There are lots of immunity boosting foods you can add to your little one’s diet. Look out for colourful fruit and veg such as cranberries, blueberries, peppers, mangoes and tomatoes, as these are all rich in phytonutrients [1], which help to prevent disease. Salmon is also good as it contains omega-3, which boosts immune strength [2], and spices such as turmeric and cinnamon are both high in antioxidants. Don’t panic if you have a fussy eater on your hands. Simply load up smoothies and homemade lollipops with a few of these little germ fighters.

How to boost your toddler’s immunity #2: Increase sleep time

Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to viruses [3]. Therefore, making sure your toddler gets those crucial 12 to 13 hours sleep a night will really make a big difference to their immunity in the run up to term time.

How to boost your toddler’s immunity #3: Give supplements

If your child has a good diet you may not feel the need to give supplements. However, if you’re concerned their diet isn’t providing all the necessary nutrients, try giving a multivitamin that combines A,C and D.

How to boost your toddler’s immunity #4: Breastfeed (if you can)

Research shows that children who are breastfed have far fewer and less severe infections than children who are not breastfed [4]. This is because breast milk is full of immunity-enhancing antibodies that help to ward off bugs and infections. Nursing also allows you to make antibodies against germs that may be on your child’s skin. Your immune system can then respond and create antibodies that will help baby fight any potential infection from those germs.
NB: The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until the age of two. [5]

How to boost your toddler’s immunity #5: Protect against germs

There is a theory that you can be almost be too clean, wiping out good bacteria that helps to boost immunity. While there may be some truth in this, it’s always important to teach children good hand washing techniques and to make sure surfaces are wiped down regularly.

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How to boost your toddler’s immunity #6: Watch out for nose and throat

If you notice that your child has the start of a cold, take them into the shower room while the water is running and try to get them to breathe in the steam. The aim is to clear the nasal passages of mucus, as this will help to prevent further infection.

How to boost your toddler’s immunity #7: Listen to your doctor

When your child is ill there is a tendency to rush to the doctors with the expectation of being prescribed antibiotics. However, the majority of childhood illnesses are caused by viruses, which aren’t curable with antibiotics. While you might think there is no danger in it, the concern is that it ups children’s resistance to antibiotics so they may need a stronger antibiotic the next time they’re sick.

How to boost your toddler’s immunity #8: Get them outside

One of the problems with living in a hot country is that it is difficult to get children outside for any length of time during the summer months. However, as sunshine boosts immunity, try to head outside for a short spell in the early morning and in the late afternoon or early evening when the weather is cool enough.

How to boost your toddler’s immunity #9: Try probiotics

Probiotic drops are very useful if your child has an infected diarrhea, because infection causes the good bacteria that live in the intestine to be depleted. Probiotics bulk out the numbers of good bacteria while also strengthening the intestinal lining. The intestines is where  70 percent of our immunity is located and therefore a balanced gut flora is essential to stimulate a child’s immune system.

How to boost your toddler’s immunity #10: See the bright side

While you can do everything you can to boost your child’s immunity the reality is that when they start at nursery they are going to come across bacteria that they haven’t encountered before and in all likelihood this will probably lead to sickness. However, it’s not always a bad thing. The upside is that every time your child gets sick it helps to develop their immunity. Therefore, by the time they get to school age they will probably have had all the common bugs and viruses, and their immunity will be a lot more robust for it.

Sources
1. http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/phytonutrients-faq#1
2. http://www.myvitamins.com/articles/abcs-of-good-health/omega-3-to-boost-immune-health/
3. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757
4. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/Breastfeeding-Benefits-Your-Babys-Immune-System.aspx
5. http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/exclusive_breastfeeding/en/

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