As a parent, one of your top priorities is to keep your child healthy.
Your job starts right from your child’s birth. There are lots of choices you can make and things you can do to give your child the best chance of developing a strong immune system.
We’re going to take a look at some practical tips and tricks to help you give your child the strongest start in life.
How does the immune system develop?
A child’s immune system development starts while they are in the womb. In the last stages of pregnancy, antibodies are passed through the placenta from mother to child.
A baby also receives antibodies from colostrum, the rich milk produced in the first few days after birth, and breastmilk.
As your child develops, they will produce their own antibodies each time they are exposed to germs. This helps build up their immune system naturally.
Practical tips to boost your child’s immune system
There are also lots of simple things you can do to boost your child’s immune system. Let’s take a look at five practical steps you can take to give your child a head start.
1. Breastfeeding is best for immunity
How you feed your baby is a personal decision. But it’s useful to know that many studies have shown that breastfeeding, especially if you can do it exclusively for the first six months of life, can strengthen your child’s immunity.
This is because breast milk contains antibodies and white blood cells that can protect your child from infections and allergies and boost their developing immune system.
2. Feed your child’s “good” bacteria
Did you know that the lining of your – and your child’s – gut is covered with microscopic bacteria? While some bacteria can cause illness, there are also “good” bacteria that live in your child’s digestive system that play an important role in keeping them healthy. This includes maintaining a strong immune system.
You can feed these good bacteria in a number of ways:
- Offering fermented food like yogurt, sauerkraut and kefir, a fermented milk drink
- Including whole-grain foods like cereals and bread in your child’s diet
- Giving your child quality probiotic supplements to support their immune function. Probiotic supplement benefits also include keeping their digestive system healthy and helping with mild allergies and eczema.
3. Healthy diet
A healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables is essential for a child’s immune system. Choose items that are particularly high in vitamin C and antioxidants like:
- Red and yellow peppers
You should also avoid giving your child too much sugar in their diet as it feeds the “bad” bacteria in their gut.
4. A good night’s sleep
A good night’s sleep is essential at any life stage to keep you healthy. It can boost your child’s immune system by helping to improve the quality of their immune cells, known as T cells. This means they are more efficient at fighting off the viruses and bacteria that can cause infections and illness.
Recommended sleep times for children are as follows:
- Children aged 5 to 13 should sleep for 9 to 11 hours a night.
- Teenagers aged 14 to 17 should sleep for 8 to 10 hours a night.
5. Keep up with immunisations
Keep up with your child’s vaccination schedule under the National Immunisation Program.
Your child will be offered a series of vaccinations against diseases such as diptheria, tetanus, measles, mumps and meningitis from birth onwards and right up to 16 years of age.
Vaccination helps your child’s immune system to build resistance against diseases and keep them healthy.
What else can I do to keep my child healthy?
A strong immune system is just one part of keeping your child fit and healthy.
You should also ensure that they get enough exercise. Aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day.
Teach them how to wash their hands properly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time. This will help cut down on the risk of infection.
They can also use sanitiser in between washing their hands to kill germs quickly without the need for soap and water.
And encourage them to wear a face mask when they are outside the home to reduce the risk of catching and passing on infections.
You can browse our website to see our complete range of health and wellness products. All of them are designed to boost your family’s health, from managing symptoms such as fever and headaches through to strengthening their immune system to make happy, healthy children!