You’ve likely heard a lot about supporting your own and your baby’s immune function over the past few weeks. It’s a time where brands may be scaremongering you into believing you need their products to support yours or your child’s health and reduce the risk of them catching COVID-19. Whilst unfortunately there’s no miracle product which can shield you from the current situation there are precautions you can take in order to support both you and your baby.
Before we go into how to protect the immune system it’s important to understand what it is. Essentially the immune system is a network of proteins and cells which work together to fight against infections. Babies immune systems are premature and they are strengthened throughout their childhood as a result of their exposure to a variety of germs. Babies immune systems are built in the last three months of pregnancy when the mother’s antibodies are passed to the foetus. A vaginal birth and breastfeeding will also increase the strength of their immune system due to a greater exposure to bacteria.
There are a few things you can do when it comes to supporting your baby’s immune function:
Feed your baby whole foods
If your baby is consuming a wide range of healthy real wholefoods then they should be getting enough of the key nutrients to support their immune system without needing to supplement. Baby supplements are often contained within gummies or sugary syrups which simply adds to your child’s overall sugar intake.
The weather has started to get a little warmer which means that your baby will be able to generate vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D plays a key role in supporting immune health and the exposure to the outside environment can help to build their immune system too. Sunscreen is important but be aware that sunscreen will block your baby’s ability to generate vitamin D.
Hydrate your baby!
Hydration is vital to supporting your baby’s immune system as it helps to keep the kidneys functioning effectively. The kidney’s key role is to remove toxins and unwanted bacteria. If you’re breast feeding and combining solids then this should be less of a concern although if you’re no longer breastfeeding then ensure that your baby is consuming around 6 cups of 150-200ml water per day. Remember to give this in small and regular doses. Where possible avoid using bottled water as the sodium and sulphate contents can be too high.
Ensure adequate omega-3
You may be aware of the importance of omega-3 on brain function, but it also plays a key role in supporting the immune system. Ensure you’re providing a source of oily fish (e.g. salmon) or try adding flaxseeds to your baby’s breakfast.
Add all the berries
Ensure your baby is consuming a wide variety of berries. Berries contain antioxidants which help to fight off free radicals (unwanted molecules in the body). Berries can be added to breakfasts or used as part of a healthy sweeter snack.
There you have a few top tips for supporting your baby’s immune system during this time. Remember it’s not about ‘boosting’ the immune system but more about supporting your baby during this challenging time.