Dr. Linda, what can I do to strengthen my baby’s immune system and prevent illness?
Previously, we discussed a variety of ways to keep your baby healthy and lower their chances of getting colds. Read about it here
A strong immune system not only prevents colds but makes it easier for your baby to recover from a cold or sickness. As you learned in previous blog on this topic, good, healthy nutrition gives your baby a strong healthy body with a strong immune system
Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to strengthen your baby’s immune system
Breastfeeding gives your baby everything they need to grow healthy intestinal bacteria (a healthy microbiome). A healthy microbiome not only protects your baby against infections but it also helps prevent immune-mediated and metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity later in life
Another advantage of breastfeeding is that any antibodies you have against cold viruses are transmitted to your baby through your breastmilk and will help protect him. That’s why, even if you catch a cold while you’re breastfeeding, you don’t have to stop. When you catch a cold, your body will start making antibodies against the virus you have. These antibodies will then be transferred to your baby through your breastmilk and protect him baby against the infection!
Vegetables and Fruits
Vegetables and fruits are high in a large variety of immune strengthening and health enhancing substances:
Antioxidants which help the body stay healthy
Vitamins especially Vitamins C, E and A
Sulfuric compounds — present in cabbage, onions, chives, kale, onions, and shallots , are all essential to strengthen your baby’s immune system.
Polyphenols (the compounds that give color to fruits and vegetables)
And last but not least Selenium (found in broccoli and nuts)
General guidelines about giving your baby and child fruits
Fruits are high in sugar, which can cause blood sugar swings as well as inflammation in your baby’s body, so it is better to give your baby more vegetables than fruits
When you do give your baby fruit give him the whole fruit rather than just the juice because the fiber in the fruit will keep your baby’s blood sugar from spiking up and down.
If your baby doesn’t like fruits freeze them whole or make them into a smoothie with lots of healthy vegetables.
Essential Fatty Acids
Make sure your baby gets enough Essential Fatty Acids (Omega-3 fatty acids) weekly.
So, what are EFAs and why are they important?
Essential Fatty Acids are fatty acids your baby’s body can’t make on its own so he has to get them through the diet. When your baby gets enough EFAs she will have a strong immune system.
If you are breastfeeding make sure you are getting enough EFAs so that your milk contains a good amount of them for your baby.
If your baby is eating a full diet one serving of low-mercury fatty fish like sardines, anchovies, mackerel or tuna two -three times a week will give your baby all the EFAs she needs to feel good and to stay healthy
Give your baby foods rich in Zinc
What is Zinc?
Zinc is a trace metal which means your baby’s body only needs very small amounts of it.
Zinc is very important in the functioning of the immune system and in prevention of upper respiratory infections
Foods high in Zinc are
Pumpkin seeds (ground if baby is less than 4 years old)
Cashews (ground up if your baby is less than 4 years old)
Yogurt or kefir
If you are vegetarian, and your baby doesn’t eat meat, then you may be absorbing less Zinc than you need. The large amount of phytates in vegetables slows the absorption of Zinc. However, there is great news, You can increase the amount of Zinc you are both getting when you prepare legumes like chickpeas, grains and seeds in the following way: Soak beans, grains and seeds in water for a few hours and then sprout them before cooking them. Leavened breads (raised), not crackers, also have more available Zinc in them. There is no definite 100% reliable recommendation as to how much Zinc should be given to children and babies so it is better to give it to them through food.
Please DO NOT use Zinc nasally (in the nose), it can cause permanent loss of smell).
So many moms and dads forget that water is very important for health in general and for the optimal functioning of their babies’ immune systems
So, how much water does your baby or child need?
A general rule of thumb in children above 1-2 years of age is 30ml for every kilogram of body weight, of clean filtered water every day.
Many children worldwide do not get enough Vitamin D every day. This leads to a weakened immune system and a greater likelihood of getting colds If you are concerned that your baby or child may be low in Vitamin D, have your doctor check his Vitamin D level. In the meantime, add the following natural-Vitamin D food sources to your baby’s diet.
Fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon
Dairy products or orange juice, soy milk or cereals that are fortified with Vitamin D
It is hard to get enough Vitamin D from the diet so, if your child’s level is low, consult your doctor about their recommendations for a good supplement as well as the proper dose for their weight and age.
Click on the different category headings to find out more. You can also change some of your preferences. Note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our websites and the services we are able to offer.
Essential Website Cookies
These cookies are strictly necessary to provide you with services available through our website and to use some of its features.
We provide you with a list of stored cookies on your computer in our domain so you can check what we stored. Due to security reasons we are not able to show or modify cookies from other domains. You can check these in your browser security settings.
Other external services
We also use different external services like Google Webfonts, Google Maps, and external Video providers. Since these providers may collect personal data like your IP address we allow you to block them here. Please be aware that this might heavily reduce the functionality and appearance of our site. Changes will take effect once you reload the page.
Google Webfont Settings:
Google Map Settings:
Google reCaptcha Settings:
Vimeo and Youtube video embeds: