The worst thing in the world to a mother is experiencing your baby sick. An average toddler may suffer from 8 to 10 colds per year, but experiencing illness helps the immune system to develop in young children. You will not be able to prevent a toddler from ever getting sick, but you can still make lifestyle choices that will help improve a toddler's immunity to viruses and infections! Here are some tips that helps keep my babe less sick!
Guard against germ spread.
Fighting germs doesn't technically boost immunity, but it's a great way to reduce stress on your child's immune system. Make sure your kids wash their hands often—and with soap..and for 20 seconds. Kenzie's teacher taught her to sing happy birthday twice. When you're out, carry disposable wipes with you for quick cleanups. To help kids get into the handwashing habit at home, let them pick out their own brightly colored hand towels and soap in fun shapes, colors, and scents...make it fun!
Limit sugar intake. (This one is hard for me to regulate lol). Sugar and other sweeteners can actually suppress the immune system and may also lead to hyperactivity, compromising the toddler's sleep and nap schedule.
Try to incorporate lots of fruits and vegetables each day. Include fruits such as strawberries, cantaloupe, blueberries, grapefruit, oranges, guava, papaya and mango. Boost immunity with good vegetable choices including sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, squash, kale and spinach. These fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and antioxidants and help increase white blood cell count and boost antibodies, as well as natural killer cells. Natural killer cells attack microbes and cancer producing cells. Kenzie eats tons of fruits, but with veggies I have to sneak them in.
Add fish or fish oil to the toddler's diet. Fish is a source of omega 3 fatty acids, which increase macrophage activity. Macrophages are white cells that eat bacteria in the body. Serve cold water fish varieties such as salmon, as these provide the greatest amount of omega 3. You can feed a toddler up to 3 3-oz. (85 g) servings per week, or you can mix the oil from 1 fish oil capsule into the toddler's food per day.
- Serve foods containing probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria found in the gut. Toddlers who eat probiotic foods like yogurt may have increased immunity to rotavirus and urinary tract infections. I give Kenzie a gummy probiotic called Smarty Pants.
Schedule time for exercise.
Exercise can help increase a person's number of natural killer cells and is an important part of overall good health. Go outside and do scavenger hunts, hop scotch, obstacle courses, ride on bikes/scooter, go to the park. Its so easy to keep kids busy and run through their energy outdoors!
Make sleep a priority.
To maximize immunity, children must get enough sleep.
Sleep requirements for each night vary by age:
Preschoolers (ages 3-5), should get between 10 and 13 hours
Children ages 6 to 13 should get between 9 and 11 hours
Adolescents ages 14-17 need between 8 and 10 hours
Not getting enough sleep limits the body’s ability to produce proteins called cytokines that help fight infection and reduce inflammation.
Try to set a specific nap time for your child and sleep time. If Kenz doens't take a nap, I will be sure to put her to bed a little earlier that day.
Take a vitamin supplement.
Not only do I give Kenzie a probiotic, but I also give her a mulitvitamin by Smarty Pants as well. If I feel like she has a cold coming on and I hear her coughing or has the sniffles, I give her Cold BeeGone which has Elderberry, Zinc, and Echinacea. I also just started giving her Soverign Silver which boosts her immune system as well.
This is a scary time with so much going around. Nothing can keep your child purely immune, but these tips will definitely help. Stay safe!