Your baby's immune system is a network of specialised cells, tissues and organs that processes the body to provide resistance and fight against disease causing pathogens by producing antibodies to varioustoxins and infectious agents. It functioning is the same as that of adults.
Babies make an entry to this world with an inexperienced immune system (innate immunity) and acquire their immunity by battling an on-going series of various disease causing bacteria, germs, viruses and other organisms.
Ways to boost your baby's immune system
By adopting certain healthy habits you can boost your baby’s immune system.
Breastmilk contains turbo-charged immunity enhancing antibodies and white blood corpuscles. Research says that Colostrum, the thin yellow ‘pre-milk’ that flows from the breasts during the first few days after birth, is highly rich in ‘disease-fighting antibodies’. When the mom breastfeeds her baby for a year or so, it boosts the immune system in her baby. For some moms, if this is not possible, breastfeeding their babies for at least 2 to 3 months will supplement their babies’ immunity than which they would have received in utero.
Nursing moms must in take the prescribed amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids and probiotics regularly to boost their baby’s immune system through breastmilk. These must be coupled with a whole-some diet that is full of leafy greens, ginger, garlic, turmeric, plenty of fruits specially oranges and strawberries and all vegetables mainly carrots, green beans, red bell peppers, broccoli,mushroom, yoghurt, almonds and broth. These contain immunity-boosting phytonutrients such as vitamin C and carotenoids. Studies show that a diet rich in phytonutrients can increase the production of infection-fighting white bold cells and interferon in our body. Interferon is an antibody that is believed to coat the cell surfaces, by blocking out viruses.
Oligosaccharides in breastmilk act as a probiotic, which means they feed the friendly and useful gut bugs that help in digestion, thus helping them to flourish and boost the immune system in babies. The scientists understanding the benefits of Oligosaccharides-Galacto Oligosaccharides (GOS) and Fructo Oligosaccharides (FOS) have mixed the GOS and FOS in the formula, and the formula fed babies too achieve a balance of friendly bacteria in the intestines that are quite similar to breastfed babies.
Ensure that your baby gets fresh air and sunshine in abundance
Vitamin D is a crucial bone-building, immune boosting vitamin, which is obtained mainly from the exposure to the sun. During winter, it is sufficient enough if your baby is exposed to the sun for 20 minutes. Making your way to the nearest park with your baby will expose him to fresh air which will clear his lungs and boost his immune system.
The National Health Service - NHS recommends that all babies aged 6 month and above should take a supplement containing 7 to 8.5 micrograms of vitamin D. Babies who are fed formula milk do not require this vitamin drops as formula milk are fortified with vitamin D.
Boost sleep time
Studies show that sleep deprivation can be harmful by reducing natural killer cells and immune-system weapons that attack the microbes. Ensure that the babies enjoy the recommended duration of sleep to boost their immune system. So, how much of sleep do kids need?
A newborn needs 8 hours of sleep during daytime (preferably 3 naps) and 8 hours at night.
A 1-month-old baby needs 6 to 7 hours of sleep during daytime (3 naps) and 8 to 9 hours at night.
A 6-months-old baby needs 3 hours of sleep during daytime (3 naps) and 11 hours at night.
12 months baby needs 2 to 2 ½ hours of sleep during daytime (2 naps) and 11 hours at night.
As a parent, you should make sure to provide the recommended sleep cycle for your baby to boost the immune system.
After a gentle massage that will soothe your baby’s body ache, lull him to a sound sleep. You can use massage oils like olive oil, mustard oil, almond oil, coconut oil, sesame oil according to your baby’s skin type and seasons.
They are suggested for external use only. For babies older than 3 months, some essential oils like chamomile, eucalyptus oil, dill oil, distilled lemon, and lavender can be used to encourage sleep, and relieve symptoms of colic. Remember each essential oil is different and before applying it to your baby, it is very important to understand its uses, the right dilution ratios and application methods.
Eliminate sugar in the diet
It is best to avoid sugar in your baby’s diet to boost the immune system. Refined sugar largely affects the immune system. You can very well substitute sugar with honey, jaggery, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, date sugar and with the natural sweetness of fruits and veggies like sweet potatoes, carrots, beetroots.
Say ‘No’ to antibiotic medicines
Do not request your pediatrician to prescribe antibiotics to treat your baby’s common cold. Remember antibiotics treat illnesses caused by bacteria not the illnesses caused by viruses.
Water helps the kidneys to flush out toxins and other infectious agents from the body. Babies around 6 months can be provided with carrot juice, smoothies, and soups in order to keep them well hydrated.
Ways to boost your baby’s immune system: Tips to remember
Study says that sheepskin has temperature regulating properties to keep babies cool in summer and warm in winter. This induces babies to sleep soundly. So it can be used in many ways to regulate your baby’s body temperature.