There’s nothing worse for a parent than a sick child! Children between the ages of 0-6 seem to attract germs like magnets and while it can be exhausting mentally and physically for parents to watch their child suffer through bouts of flu and tummy upsets, getting sick and recovering is nature’s way of strengthening your child’s immunity.
There are however, less painful ways of boosting immunity (thankfully!) and below we list a few.
An abundant presence of Vitamin C in your child’s diet helps the body produce infection-fighting white blood cells and interferon. Interferon is an antibody that surrounds cell surfaces and blocks viruses from entering the cells, thus preventing fever and nausea. Studies have also shown that a diet rich in Vitamin C builds resistance against chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease in adulthood. It is advisable to get your child to eat five servings of fruits and veggies a day. Carrots, green vegetables, oranges, and strawberries are all high in Vitamin C.
Sleep deprivation in children causes them to be more susceptible to illness. When we sleep, the body takes the time to rebuild its defences against disease. Thus it is important for children to get the required amount of sleep as per their stage of growth. Ideally, a newborn baby should have 18 hours of sleep per day and by the time they become toddlers, the number of hours should reduce to between 12 and 13 hours. Pre-schoolers should get around 10-12 hours of sleep.
Medical practitioners recommended breastfeeding your child for at least a year. This is because of the presence of turbo-charged immunity-enhancing antibiotics and white blood cells in breast milk. These nutrients help children fight ear infections, allergies, diarrhea, pneumonia, meningitis, urinary tract infections, and sudden infant death syndrome. Research has also supported the fact that breast milk helps enhancing your little one’s brain power and helps protecting against insulin-dependent diabetes, colitis, and certain forms of cancer at later stages. If breastfeeding for one year is not possible, it is ideal to breastfeed your child for the first three months so that there is a continuous supply of immunity-enhancing antibiotics.
A healthy and happy body helps building immunity. Regular exercise increases the production of disease fighting cells. The earlier you introduce your child to exercise, the easier it will be for them to make it a lifelong habit! Exercise together as a family and have fun while at it! Encourage your child and family to go running, bike riding, hiking, swimming, or play ball games together!
A well-developed hygiene habit will prevent your children spreading germs. To develop a good hygiene system, ensure your little ones wash their hands with soap before and after each meal, after playing with pets and blowing their noses. Also, make them wash their hands and feet every time they return home, after a trip outside.
Super moms and super dads, here’s a little tip for you: If your child falls sick, throw away the toothbrush right away. Viruses spread from one toothbrush to another and can make other members of the family fall sick!
Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 toxins that irritate the cells. Being a passive smoker is dangerous, especially for children. This is because children breathe at faster rates than adults, and their body’s natural detoxification process is less developed. This leads to an increased risk of developing bronchitis, ear infection, and asthma. Studies have also proved that cigarette smoke affects your child’s overall development and intelligence.
Giving your child too many antibiotics slowly builds their immunity against them. Once their body gets immune to medicine, it will be very difficult to cure the smaller issues. As a result, you may have to increase the dosage each time. This is not advisable.
As hard as it might be, allow their little bodies to heal themselves by providing external care. Encourage your little one to drink warm water often, feed them warm soup, and ensure they get enough sleep!
• Keep your child’s vaccination schedule up to date: Vaccination begins from the time of birth till the age of 9. It is crucial to keep track of their schedule, and not skip even one. Nowadays there are various apps that will help you keep track of the schedule.
• Strictly follow meal time: When you have food at regular times, it gives the body time for digestion and helps maintaining strength. This also helps the body send hunger cues at meal times which results in your child eating well, without too many tantrums!
• Spend less time in front of the Television: Spending too much time in front of the television and other electronic gadgets makes your little ones lethargic and dull. Instead, keep them engaged with books, colours, take them out to the park, make them use their imagination to create and build things, and spend time with puzzle games. This will enhance their mental development.
Here’s wishing that all our children remain safe, healthy and happy always!