It is essential to have a strong immune system as that is what protects us from all sorts of attacks from bacteria, viruses, etc. But when a child is born or is in their early years, their immune system is at a developing stage, so they need as much protection as possible, especially during this winter season. It increases the need to do the right things to boost their immunity. Read on to find 6 tips on how to increase immunity in kids.
Winter is setting in and it brings along with it the spread of viral infections and cold and cough. Warm clothing and a strong immune system are the only two things that will protect your kid from catching these infections. But since this is not a one- day process, you need to consistently work towards boosting your kid’s immunity.
Post Covid-19, the focus on boosting our immunity has increased. “To help your child avoid illnesses, it is important to encourage good habits and take steps to boost their immune system from early infancy,” says Dr Sandhya Soneja, a Pediatrician at ELANTIS Healthcare.
How to increase immunity in kids?
If you keep these 6 tips in mind, you will have a healthy kid:
If you have a newborn baby, it is necessary to breastfeed a child for at least the first six months. A baby should only be given its mother’s milk during the start as it has got immense benefits and has an amazing ability to help fight infections off the baby. “Breastfeeding reduces gastrointestinal infections and respiratory infections. Breastfeeding reduces allergies also,” says Dr Soneja.
2. Get them vaccinated
With dengue, malaria, Covid-19, etc on a spread, it is important to stick to the immunization schedule and follow your pediatrician’s advice when it comes to childhood vaccination. Dr Soneja says parents should be advised to complete the schedule of timely vaccinations of flu and pneumococcal vaccinations as they help in reducing infections.
3. Give them a healthy platter
In winter, a healthy diet, which provides your children with warmth and strength, is most important for the child’s immune system. We should encourage our children to “eat a rainbow” – a wide array of fruits and vegetables. Diet should be rich in fruits and vegetables along with a high fiber diet.
Fruits that boost immunity are oranges, grapefruits, blueberries, apples and pears. Fish is a good source of vitamin D. “Various vitamins and minerals present in fruits are needed to maintain good health and a strong immune system. A healthy diet should always include yogurt which is full of healthy bacteria and helps to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract,” says Dr Soneja.
4. Promote regular handwashing
Around 80 percent of infections are spread by touching, so we should teach our children the proper technique of how to wash hands. They should be taught to always wash hands after sneezing and coughing. Washing hands with water and soap removes the bacteria and viruses and thus reduces infection.
5. Proper sleep
Make sure they get enough sleep. Dr Soneja explains that sleep requirements for children vary with age: babies from 0 to 3 months would sleep for nearly 15 to 16 hours, those between 4 to 12 months need 12 to 15 hours of sleep and after this the sleep requirement reduces gradually in children to about 9 to 12 hours. When the child is not getting enough sleep that leads to lesser proteins especially cytokines which helps fight infections.
“Making them active by regular exercise boosts the immune system by increasing the number of T cells that help fight infections,” says Dr Soneja. This would include doing physical activities with your children, some exercises for example yoga, dance and giving them dance challenges to build stamina, doing a cleaning chore together, etc.