In the first few months, your baby’s immune system is too immature to activate its own immunity. Luckily your baby was born with a natural immunity she inherited from you during pregnancy. In addition, colostrum – the milk your baby gets from the breast in the first three days of life – gives a high dose of antibodies.
These antibodies create a passive immunity – in other words a gift from you to your baby. But it doesn’t last long – just a few weeks or months and then your baby needs to develop her own immunity.
As winter comes, and seasons change – there are more germs around and more chance of getting sick.
Here are 7 ways to boost your little one’s immunity:
- Sleep – Research has shown that when we get enough sleep, our immunity increases – specifically T-cells, which are the killer cells that attack viruses. So make sure your little one is not sleep deprived. Even toddlers should be asleep by 7:30pm.
- Breastfeeding – The best way to boost your baby’s immunity in the first year is to breastfeed. Even once your baby is on solids, breast milk continues to carry some of your antibodies to your baby.
- Diet – The food you feed your baby will help her to build her immunity by providing micronutrients. Make sure your baby eats fruit and veggies as well as fish, meat, nuts and wholegrains – all of these contain vitamins and micronutrients needed for immunity.
- Supplements – If your baby is breastfed and has a wholesome diet once on solids, you don’t need to supplement her diet with vitamins. However, if she is a fussy eater (especially in the toddler years) it is worth taking a good multivitamin for babies and young children. Make sure it has high levels of Vitamin C and Zinc. Your pharmacist can guide you to the best choice.
- Vaccinations – Without question the most important boost of your baby’s immunity is inoculations against dangerous childhood illnesses. Follow the government schedule and be a responsible parent.
- Avoid germs – Until your little one has had her vaccinations – especially in the first three months – try to avoid sick people and busy places, such as public transport, with your baby.
- Cleanliness – While we do not want an over sterile world (this increases the risk of allergies), we do want to prevent the spread of germs, especially if we are in contact with sick people. The best way to do this is regularly wash your hands and sterilize your baby’s feeding equipment until 6 months of age.