How to Boost a Toddler's Immunity
About the Author
LQWilliams is a Master’s level social worker with more than 15 years of experience. Her training and specialties include therapeutic services with children/families, child protective services, mental health support services for adults, and medical social work. In addition, she is licensed as a certified substance abuse counselor.
Your toddler is exposed to millions of germs every day. A healthy immune system is the first step in preventing some of these germs from making them very sick. Instilling healthy habits in your toddler now is essential to ensure optimal functioning of your toddler’s immune system. For kids a strong immune system is vital. A few tips to assist your child in developing and maintaining a strong immune system include:
Breastfeed – Babies who are breastfed for a minimum of one year (two years is better) have fewer illnesses. It is theorized that their immune systems are also better equipped when it is time to receive immunizations. More research is needed to prove or disprove this theory, but for many it makes perfect sense.
Be wary of chemicals – Some researchers believe that a child’s developing brain and immune system are susceptible to chemical influences. Eating organic foods can be a good way to help your toddler’s body stay healthy.
Get your toddler moving - Exercise increases the number of infection fighting white blood cells and helps them to fight off infection.
Just say no (sometimes) – When it comes to sugar and junk food, saying no to your child does more than just keep them from ruining their appetite. Sugar has been shown to weaken the immune system. In fact, recent studies have shown that drinking approximately two and a half 12 ounce cans of soda can reduce the immune systems ability to fight off foreign invaders by 40 percent. Minimize treats and sugary foods to help keep your toddler’s immune system in tip top shape.
Probiotics – Your intestines contain healthy bacteria known as probiotics. They play a vital role in regulating the intestinal and internal immune system. Many children will need antibiotics at some point during childhood. These drugs often destroy these healthy bacteria, leaving a child much more susceptible to other illnesses and intestinal problems. Taking probiotics on a regular basis can really help the immune system. For toddlers probiotics the week before and after vaccinations may actually help protect them from the side effects of vaccines. Probiotics can be mixed into food or liquid for toddlers and given as capsules for older kids.
Omega 3 oil supplements – Fish is full of omega 3s. Children, however, don’t generally eat a lot of fish and many children are actually deficient in this very healthy fat. There are many supplements on the market today and adding one to your child’s diet is a great way to boost their immune system. Make sure that any fish oil supplement you add has been tested and found to be free of mercury.
Fruits and Vegetables – we all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us. Unfortunately, most children just don’t get enough. There are chewable products on the market that can aid in making sure kids get the benefits that fruits and vegetables provide. The immune boosting properties that these supplements provide can help prevent many infectious diseases. Of course, nothing beats the real thing so making sure your toddler gets a variety of fruits and vegetables as part of their regular diet is ideal.
Keep your toddler lean - Obesity has been shown to depress the immune system by interfering with the white blood cells ability to produce antibodies. Research has shown that overweight children get twice as many infections as leaner children.
Adequate Sleep - Without the proper amount of rest your toddler becomes more susceptible to illness. A toddler should get between 12 and 13 hours of sleep per day.
Vaccinations - Many parents are concerned regarding vaccinating their children according to the recommended immunization schedule. Some prefer to avoid vaccinations all together. Whether you agree or disagree with vaccinating, research has shown that they boot a toddler's immune system and effectively protect them from many diseases. Vaccinations work by exposing your child to a dormant version of the disease, stimulating the immune system to work against it. If your child is exposed to a more intense form of the illness later their body will then recognize it and begin to fight against it.