As a parent, your child’s health is probably on your mind most of the time. Children can be excellent at quickly fighting common colds and viruses if they have robust immune systems. Building your child’s immune system is something that you can do naturally by making a few simple changes. Here are some ways to help strengthen your child’s immune system naturally.
If your child is eating solid foods, or even if they’re eating purees, ensuring they are eating enough fruit and veg is vital. Specific fruits and vegetables such as orange, strawberries, carrots and beans are especially good for the immune system. This is because they contain immunity-boosting carotenoids (1). These are phytonutrients that the body needs to help strengthen the immune system and fight off infections, viruses and diseases.
Increase Sleep Time
Sleep deprivation not only makes you feel fatigued, but it can also make you more likely to get sick. A lack of sleep can mean your natural killer cells are reduced. These cells are essential for fighting against cancer cells and microbes. By ensuring your child is sleeping enough, you’ll give them the best chance of building their immunity. Depending on your child’s age, they may need up to 17 hours of sleep per day (2). This is usually only true for young babies; toddlers need around 11 to 14 hours, and preschool children ideally need 10 to 13.
Do Not Allow Exposure to Secondhand Smoke
Smoking around your children can be very harmful. If you smoke, then think about quitting. Children can suffer more than adults around secondhand smoke. This is because their lungs’ ability to detoxify substances isn’t as mature as adults’. Children also breathe faster than adults, meaning they inhale more of the substance than adults. A child’s immune system can suffer significantly because of exposure to secondhand smoke. They may be more likely to develop asthma, infections or bronchitis. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of SIDS (3).
If you can breastfeed your child, this can be one of the best ways to build their immune system. Breast milk is full of antibodies that enhance the child’s immune system and help prevent many infections. These include UTIs, allergies, ear infections, pneumonia and SIDS. Many studies show the benefits of breastfeeding to your baby’s overall health and immunity. Breastfeeding may also protect your baby against diseases and health problems later in life (4).
Regular Health Checks
To keep on top of the health of your child, you should schedule regular health checks. Our providers will be able to monitor the health of your child and give you the advice you need to keep their immune system strong. We offer pediatric health checks at Brevard Health Alliance, so contact us and book your appointment today.
- Chew & Park (2004) Carotenoid action on the immune response.
- Sleep Foundation (2021) How Much Sleep Do Babies and Kids Need?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020) Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke.
- World Health Organization (2021) Breastfeeding.