8 tips to power up your munchkin’s immunity

It’s miserable when junior’s sick! To reduce such events, check out these ways to power up their immune system.

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You must have heard of childcare centres sending entire classes of kids home because so many were sick. Or maybe your little one has had to deal with several flu episodes in succession. Or your kids and you are playing “pass the cold”…

These smaller infections could be helping to build your child’s immune system (up until age 13, according to a study published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in 2002). That said, you can do plenty to ensure that your tot grows strong. Not to mention, make those pukey preschool years a little less fraught! So, make sure your mini-me gets plenty of these eight factors…

1. Breastfeeding

As nursing transfers antibodies from your system to your baby to protect him from disease, this seriously helps your baby develop a strong immune system. Whether you latch him on or he drinks expressed breastmilk, it’s all good.

2. Pre- and probiotics

Nope, they aren’t the same or a misspelling? Prebiotics are actually foods that encourage the beneficial bacteria in your toddler’s stomach to grow well, while probiotics refer to the bacteria themselves. A healthy level of good gut bacteria is needed to battle bad bacteria. So, where do you find your good pres and pros? A really good source (with both) is growing-up milk and yoghurt with “live” cultures. And it’s always good to toss in some fresh fruit such as bananas (also pre) and soft-steamed veggies such as asparagus and tomato (again pre).

Iron contributes to normal cognitive function in tots.

3. Iron

Iron contributes to normal cognitive function in tots. In fact, kids who don’t get enough iron on a regular basis impact their immune system function. Whole grains and dark, leafy veggies, soy products and dried fruits and nuts will all boost junior’s iron. When your tot can manage chewier foods, adding a little red meat (cooked well) can help. Beware of liver, though — keep this to once a week.

4. Zinc

This performs several important functions, from making new cells to normal protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism. Good zinc sources to add to your toddler’s diet include meat, dairy products and cereal.

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5. Vitamins

Important ones include:
A - Supports your toddler’s immune system. It’s available in eggs, cheese, yoghurt and dark green and orange veggies and fruit.
C - This natural antioxidant helps to protect cells and enhances your tot’s absorption of iron. Obviously, it’s in fruit and veggies…
D - Besides improving bone strength and contributing to the normal function of the immune system, it may also help in allergies. Luckily, here in the tropics, it’s easy to get sunshine. It’s also in eggs, oily fish and fortified milk or cereal.

6. Fat (we’re not kidding)

The wrong types of fat (hydrogenated oils found in deep-fried foods, margarine and baked goods) can predispose a child to health conditions. Good fat, full of essential fatty acids, is essential to your child’s diet. You can find them in fish oils, flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, hemp seed oil and borage seed oil. Cod liver oil is a great way for kids to receive essential fatty acids and luckily for your kids, it now comes in tablets (instead of those scary emulsions from way back when…). Or give the good oils to them directly by serving tasty portions of grilled salmon (just watch the mercury level in fish like tuna).

Give the good oils to them directly by serving tasty portions of grilled salmon (just watch the mercury level in fish like tuna).

7. Sleep

Uh huh! So, ensure your tyke gets good, restorative sleep — babies need 16 to 18 hours, tots 11 to 12 hours, while kids need about 10. Besides saving your tot from endless health niggles, it could save your sanity.

8. Your own health

Yes, you can help your little one stay in the pink if you are in robust health! Being in tip-top shape when you breastfeed and take care of junior also helps them. Lastly, if your diet is healthy and you get loads of exercise, they’ll grow up and follow in your footsteps, too!

Photos: iStock

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