In our aseptic world, it feels like kids get a lot more colds and flus, but there’s some simple ways to boost your baby’s immune system naturally. A little bacteria is actually a good thing! We keep hearing about protecting ourselves from diseases and pathogens, with perpetual hand sanitiser spritz, antibacterial cleaners… but these actually cause more harm than good. Nature is really well done. Humans have been surviving plagues and disease for quite a while thanks to our immune system. With winter, it’s always a good idea to review some of the ways we can keep our family’s immune system in top shape.
Some of the causes of a weak immune system
It’s important to understand some of the reasons behind a weakened immune system as many of these can be linked to bad habits that are straightforward to fix. These include:
- Lack of sleep: when we don’t have adequate sleep, our body can’t fix itself and goes into “stress mode.” There’s a direct correlation between sleep and our immune function. For baby sleep tips, check out my previous post with tips to create a calming night time routine.
- Stress: ever noticed how our stress can manifest itself through pain or discomfort in our body? There’s an inextricable correlation with how we feel in our body and in our mind. Stress can impact our immune system and therefore our health.
- Lack of exercise: from exercise our body creates feel-good endorphins as well as supports our immune system. You don’t need to run a marathon either, just 30 minutes of daily activity is enough.
- Bad diet & poor hydration: it’s basic, but eating healthy and drinking enough water is crucial to our health. For example, too much sugar is a known culprit to a weakened immune function.
How to tell if your child has a weakened immune system?
There’s no reason to worry about the below list since they can be attributed to a number of things, including environmental, and can just be temporary. However, it’s good to keep an eye out, especially if your child has a few of them. If you suspect your baby has immune system issues, of course consult your pediatrician.
Typical signs of a weak immune system include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Repetitive colds and flus
- Excessive allergies
- Chronic digestive issues (diarrhea, stomach pain, constipation)
- Eczema and dry itchy skin
- Eyes and nose are always very dry
- Wounds that take a long time to heal
Boost your baby’s immune system naturally
After reading some of the common causes of a lower immune system, some of these tips are pretty common sense and others definitely need to be on your radar.
Being well hydrated helps the body get enough oxygen and flush out toxins. Breast milk is 88% water, so babies typically get their fill of hydration that way. Once your child has started eating solids, it’s best to give him water, homemade juice or herbal tea. Stay away from processed fruit juice, which is heavy on sugar.
2. Sleep & rest
There’s a reason infants and toddlers need a lot of sleep; that’s when their body grows and their brain makes new neurological connections. A baby’s sleep is precious, creating an environment that’s conducive to dreaming and relaxation for your little one can help your child fall asleep easily. At first their sleeping and feeding pattern might be very tiring, but it will regulate over time, so don’t force your newborn into a sleep schedule. The lavender essential oil in my Petit Jovial Nourishing Bath Oil will help your baby relax before bed.
3. Physical activity
Usually that’s an easy one for babies and toddlers! Not only will exertion help with falling asleep, it’s crucial for their immune system. Playing at the park, being exposed to mild germs from the ground, other kids… All of these contribute to a strong immune function over the course of their life, so might as well let them play in the puddles or skip a week of vacuuming the house.
4. Vitamin D
An essential component of a strong immune function, vitamin D has been in the press quite a lot recently. Most adults and kids don’t get enough vitamin D from sun exposure, making supplements a necessity. For babies, vitamin D3 can be given as a liquid supplement. Best to consult your pediatrician before giving some to your child.
If your child already eats solids, some of the foods that are high in vitamin D include egg yolks, salmon, mushrooms and sardines. Or just like in Mary Poppins, cod liver oil.
5. Ginger, garlic, ginseng, turmeric
This natural immunity tip is more for grown-ups and toddlers used to solid food. Ginger, garlic, ginseng and turmeric are wonderful foods to add to your diet for their health and immunity boosting properties.
All four can be added to your dishes, grating them into baked goods or stir fries, or added into soups. Ginger, ginseng and turmeric are also great as a warm beverage. Just simmer in boiling water, add honey and lemon juice to taste. To use more turmeric, try a simple Golden Milk recipe; it’s also a great anti-inflammatory.
70% to 80% of our immune system is located in our gut! It’s influence is so important on our body and mind that our gut has earned the moniker of “second brain”. For toddlers eating solid foods there’s the option of taking probiotic supplements or eating probiotic-rich foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut or yogurt. Select ones that aren’t pasteurized as the process gets rid of the probiotics. Most probiotics are safe for babies, just check with your pediatrician.
Hope these tips help you boost your baby’s immune system naturally. Should you like to look into natural remedies to stimulate the immune system, look into elderberry, echinacea and homeopathic care.
Until next time, Tania xx
*This article is provided for informational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.