Dr. Linda, my baby is in daycare and gets sick all the time. How can I keep my baby healthy?
In the first two blogs on keeping your baby healthy, we talked a lot about nutrition and how you can feed your baby and child to keep them healthy. Read part 1 and part 2 here.
In this last blog on the topic, you will learn other, often missed ways, to strengthen your baby’s immune system and keep them healthy
Prevention is always better than having to manage a cold in your little one. If your baby is very young make sure you wash your hands every time you touch your baby( especially in the newborn period when their immune systems are especially vulnerable) . Many of the viruses that cause colds and upper respiratory infections live on surfaces in your environment for quite a while (depending on the virus).
If you don’t wash your hands well you could accidentally carry the germ from the surface to your baby’s upper airways on your fingers and hands. You do not need to invest in expensive antibacterial soap. It is the act of scrubbing your hands that gets rid of the germs.
As we all learned during the pandemic, make sure you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or the length of time it takes to sing the happy birthday song twice. Rinse your hands well and then dry them. If you don’t have soap and water and your hands do not have a lot of dirt (or other material on them, poop for example) then hand sanitizers will do; soap and water are better but if you make sure to rub both your hands together until the sanitizer has completely dried your baby should stay safe
Teach your toddlers and older children how to do proper handwashing and have them wash their hands many times during the day so it becomes a habit, especially after you get home from daycare or from an outing. Make it fun and not a chore, sing songs, have a competition, see whose hands look and smell cleaner after you wash.
Foods that can cause inflammation
Avoid giving your baby foods that can cause inflammation because inflammation weakens the immune system. Sugar is one of the most inflammatory foods in everyone’s diet:
Foods high in sugars such as juices, cookies, and candy cause swings in blood sugar which can cause inflammation in your baby’s body leading to a weaker immune system.
High blood sugar levels make white blood cells less effective at fighting bacteria.
Make sure your baby gets enough sleep. Lack of sleep, in addition to making your baby fussy and moody actually lowers the strength of the immune system. Babies and children who don’t get enough sleep actually get sicker more often! Do you know how much sleep your baby needs every night? Are they getting it?
Take your baby out in nature
Take your baby out in nature even when it is cold. Studies have shown that exposure to cold temperatures don’t make babies sick, rather it is their exposure to people and to objects that carry viruses.
Give your baby and child time to exercise, run, and play. Moderate exercise increases the number white blood cells in their blood (macrophages), which fight off viruses.
If you are interested in homeopathy, Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic remedy that is used to prevent Influenza. According to a Cochrane review (scientific review), it does shorten the duration of symptoms but doesn’t reliably prevent infection. (handwashing is key) I use it for myself and my kids as well as in my practice and have had good results with it with no side effects.
Keep yourself healthy
Make taking care of yourself a priority: When you’rehealthy, you’re less likely to get infections that you may bring home to your baby.
Wash your hands well and often
Eat nutritious foods and avoid junk foods and sugary foods.
Get enough sleep
Manage your stress in healthy ways
Instead of thinking or saying: “My child is always sick”, turn it around and consciously affirm : “I am healthy, my child is healthy and has a strong immune system, my family is healthy and we will stay healthy through cold and Flu season.” Since we create our experiences of reality with our words and beliefs it is much more empowering to affirm positive things happening rather than negative things. Try this, even if it doesn’t help, it can’t hurt and you ,at least, will feel more positive
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