It’s a certainty that your kid will catch some bugs and viruses. However, if your child is constantly being sent home sick or seems to forever have a cold, they may have a low immune system. Here are some ways that you can boost their immunity to illness.
Breast feed your baby
Breastfeeding babies has been proven to fight against all manner of viruses and infections. This is because breast milk contains important antibodies for your baby. Studies have found that children who are nursed by their mother are less likely to develop meningitis, pneumonia, ear infections or urinary tract infections. There are also some links that show breast milk can prevent allergies from developing. Breastfeeding isn’t possible for all mothers and substitute milks may be able to provide many nutrients.
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Fight off viruses with vaccinations
There are various jabs that may be able to help prevent your kid catching bugs. The flu can be a particularly bad bug to get that is common in winter and could have your child at home for weeks. Usually you can get vaccinated for flu from your local pharmacy. You can’t vaccinate against common colds, but could consider vitamin supplements as a way of warding off this bacteria.
Get more greens into their diet
Nothing quite gets that immune system up like a healthy intake of fruit and veg. Carrots, spinach, mushroom and citric fruits are some of the best foods for improving the immune system due to their amount of vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids. These nutrients help produce white blood cells which in turn produce antibodies to fight off infections.
Some children can be fussy eaters, but you can try to still get their vitamin intake by being creative with foods. Arranging food into patterns and playing into children’s imagination (letting them believe broccoli is trees) can help to make this kind of food more fun. Getting them involved in cooking can also make them more eager to try the results. Experimenting with making fruit smoothies and mixing up vegetables into pasta or with mash potato can also encourage them to eat it.
You should always encourage children to try these new foods, but never force them to eat them, as this will just increase their dislike towards the food. Make sure that you’re leading by example too – if they see that you’re leaving your veg, they’ll have no reason to eat theirs.
Keep them active
Physical activity circulates the blood around the body faster and ensures that antibodies reach infections faster. Most young kids love to be active, but may reach an age eventually where they just want to watch TV or play video games rather than going outside.
As with a healthy diet, exercise must also be led by example – you can’t expect kids to go out and play if you’re not going out and being active too. A great way to encourage exercise is to do active family outings. This could be anything from going on a walk to cycling to playing football in the park. Try considering active days out doing new things such as kayaking or horse-riding or laser tag or a treetop adventure course. Try to take the car less often for short journeys – this will encourage your kids to walk to places when they get older. You can also make the garden a place of physical activity with purchases such as trampolines or football nets.
Make them wash their hands
It’s important to get a good hygiene routine into them early. Most young kids will pick up germs from things they touch. Encouraging kids to wash their hands and use soap will stop them from catching as many germs. This should be encouraged after they go to the loo, after they go outside or after they pet an animal.
There are lots of fun kids soap dispensers and brightly coloured soaps that may make washing hands more fun. You can also reinforce the need to be clean by always carrying wipes with you and wiping hands after they’ve been playing in the garden or got food all over them. Be wary that you can go over the top with cleaning kids – some germs and dirt will be good for improving their immunity so don’t disallow them from ever getting their hands dirty.
Keep their mouths clean
Kids may also pick up germs from things they put in their mouth. You should try to keep toys clean, especially with babies and toddlers who are likely to give anything a taste.
A tooth brushing regime is also important. Brightly coloured toothbrushes and special toothpastes can be used to encourage kids to brush – you can make them more enthusiastic about it by getting them to pick their brush. Apps can help time kids and make toothbrushing more fun. Make sure that if your child is sick that you immediately dispose of their toothbrush and get a new one.
Bring bedtime forward
It’s during our sleep when our bodies heal. If your kids aren’t getting the right amount of rest per night, their immune systems could be lower and they could be more susceptible to bugs.
Make sure that you have a strict bedtime and that your kids are actually going to sleep during this time (not watching a movie or playing on an iPad). In fact, it’s best to have no screen time for at least an hour before bed as these bright screens can trick the brain into thinking it’s still daytime, making it harder to produce the sleep hormone melatonin. Reading before bed could be a far better activity for getting them to drift off to sleep.