With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading like wildfire, building strong immunity is the need of the hour. If you want your child to stay safe from infections, they need a strong immune system. You need to remember that building immunity in children is not a one-time activity. It takes constant effort and lots of battles with unwilling children. But hey, you are a parent. Battling with children for their own good is part of your job. So, take a deep breath and read on.
How to build your child’s immunity
There’s nothing better than breast milk to boost a baby’s immunity. It is full of immunity-enhancing antibodies and white blood cells. Breast milk can guard infants against allergies, ear infections, diarrhea, meningitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
However, boosting older children’s immunity is more challenging. The following tips can help:
Nutritious Diet for immunity boosting:
Children’s diet can have a direct impact on their health. And the trouble is children love to eat food that hurts their health. They love fast foods that harm them and hate vegetables and fruits that are good for them. Your task is to reverse these feelings.
Children need a healthy diet full of essential nutrients. But don’t use the word Nutritious before them or they will run away. Just try to feed them more fruits and vegetables. Carrots, green beans, oranges, strawberries are especially helpful in boosting immunity. They have immunity-boosting phytonutrients called carotenoids. Phytonutrients help the body to produce more infection-fighting white blood cells. They also boost the production of interferon which is an antibody. It coats cell surfaces and blocks out viruses.
For better health and stronger immunity, your child should eat five servings of fruits and veggies every day. This means, about two tablespoons for toddlers, 1 cup for older kids, five times a day.
A good diet alone is not enough for a fit body. Regular exercise is needed too. Exercise reduces the risk of obesity, which lowers immunity and may cause serious health issues. Exercising regularly can help in toning muscles and increase bone density and strength. As per MedlinePlus, exercise causes changes in White Blood Cells and antibodies. The brief rise in body temperature during and after exercise may prevent bacteria’s growth and help the body fight infections better. And it is great for building immunity too. Exercise helps flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce children’s risk of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.
But how to make your children exercise? First, make sure their games include more physical activity. Children nowadays prefer playing on smartphones. You need to curtail this smartphone addiction and make their playtime healthier. And when you exercise, encourage them to join you. Make exercise a family activity. When they see you exercising, they will be more motivated to do it.
Compared to earlier, children today spend less time outdoors. They prefer watching TV or spending time with their computers and smart devices. Many parents hesitate to send their children out, fearing for their security and health.
But being outdoors is good for your children’s health. Constant exposure to air conditioning can lower immunity. Whereas fresh air can clean their lungs of impurities such as car fumes and dust. Being out in the sun can boost their Vitamin D. Being outside will increase their physical activity and reduce the risk of obesity. Playing outdoors may also reduce children’s risk of depression and hyperactivity. All this will help in improving their health and strengthening children’s immune system. It is also an easy way to increase their physical activity.
Sufficient sleep is vital for your child’s immunity:
Sleep deprivation can affect the health and emotional state of even adults. It can be very harmful to children. Children need more sleep than adults. An infant needs up to 16 hours of sleep time in a day. Toddlers need 11 to 14 hours of sleep, and preschoolers need 10 to 13 hours’ sleep time.
Disturbed or less sleep can make your children more vulnerable to infections. Sleep deprivation reduces natural killer cells, immune-system weapons that fight against microbes and cancer cells. So make sure your children are getting enough sleep. It is essential for their health and happiness.
Reduce their stress:
We think stress troubles only adults. But children can get stressed too. There are many things that can disturb your children. It might be the stress of studies, peer pressure, bullying in school, lack of confidence, obesity, and so on. Stress, anxiety, and depression can lower your child’s immunity too. So if you notice increased moodiness, withdrawal, and other behavioral changes, try to find the reason for them. Take steps to reduce your child’s stress and anxiety. Take the help of a medical practitioner if you need to. It is essential for their health and wellbeing.
Besides these, you also need to make sure your child’s immunity is not getting affected by your poor lifestyle. If you or your partner smoke, secondhand smoke can affect your children. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, you can’t make your children exercise. Similarly, if you eat a lot of fast food, you can’t force your children to avoid them and eat veggies instead.
With the increasing environmental pollution and the risk of infections, children must have strong immunity. For that, they need a healthy diet and lifestyle. But it is difficult to make children eat what they should, play as they should, and sleep when they should. Explain to them the benefit of proper diet, exercise, sleep, etc. And above all, be a good role model.