Published: May 19, 2020 6:05:39 pm

(Source: Getty Images)

By Sumedha Khoche

Becoming a parent is undoubtedly the most life-altering event for an adult. As a parent, emotions we never thought ourselves capable of come to the fore where the child is concerned. Keeping them happy, healthy and safe from any illness becomes paramount. Nothing pains us more than seeing our little one fall prey to cough, cold and other infectious diseases. As the child begins preschool, these become more common and seemingly impossible to avoid. Building immunity becomes key at this stage. Here are a few simple ways that we can build immunity right from birth.

1. Breastfeed your baby

Colostrum present in the mother’s milk is considered the gold standard in building a baby’s immunity. Studies have shown that babies who are breastfed for at least six months have a better developed immune system and are less prone to infections and allergies.

2. Stick to the immunisation schedule

Ensure that the vaccination schedule advised by the paediatrician is uninterrupted and the child gets the required shots on time. This is vital for all children, especially those with asthma and other chronic health issues.

Read| Immune deficiency in children: Treat the problem early at its root

3. Serve up a healthy platter

Encourage your child to eat the rainbow, serving fruits and vegetables of all colours. Berries, bell peppers and broccoli are brightly coloured and rich in antioxidants. Oranges and citrus fruit high in Vitamin C boost immunity and act as a barrier against infections. Green leafy vegetables like spinach are iron-rich and aid the production of white blood cells and antibodies. Nuts, seeds, grains and beans contain vital omega fatty acids. Eggs are a great source of protein and can be added in the daily diet in various forms. Foods with excess sugar and junk food should be limited to an occasional treat rather than a regular feature.

4. Maintain a healthy gut

Gut health is critical to a good digestive system, where a majority of all infections arise. Food rich in probiotics strengthens the intestinal tract and aids the growth of good bacteria. Yoghurt is a great way to include probiotics in the family’s daily diet. For infants, yoghurt can be added to pureed fruit. Older children can enjoy carrot or cucumber sticks with a tasty yoghurt dip.

Read| These healthy drinks will boost your child’s immunity

5. Get enough sleep

Most children need between 10 to 14 hours of uninterrupted sleep. A set routine for bedtime could include a warm bath, light massage or reading together for some time. An energised and well-rested child is better equipped to keep infections at bay.

6. Stay active

Exercise plays a huge role in overall fitness. An hour of activity in the park or even an indoor playground can work wonders for a child’s health and boost the immune system. Exercising together or playing a sport as a family is fun and a great way to bond and stay fit.

7. Make hygiene a habit

Good hygiene keeps germs and infections away. Simple habits like washing hands after play, before and after meals, and after using the toilet should be stressed upon so they become a habit.

8. Have fun outdoors

Whenever possible, take children outdoors for fresh air and vitamin D, required by each cell in the body and to build immunity. Encourage them to play with pets, run around barefoot in the grass and allow them to get a little dirty, as exposure to everyday germs teaches the body to adapt and diversify the healthy bacteria in the body. Do ensure proper hand-washing when they come indoors.

Read| How to protect your child from infections in today’s world

9. Avoid secondhand smoke

The ill-effects of second-hand smoke are well known, as the toxins in it can kill healthy cells. Children breathe at a faster rate than adults, so can inhale more smoke if it is present in the environment. A smoke-free space has great benefits for everyone.

10. Avoid antibiotics unless necessary

Though they act fast, antibiotics as the first step may not always be the best idea. Antibiotics often wipe out the good bacteria along with the harmful ones thus compromising the body’s immunity. Go by your paediatrician’s advice and do not pressurise them to prescribe antibiotics for every ailment.

Getting a cold, cough, bruises and cuts are unavoidable parts of childhood. Providing our children with healthy food, habits and environment goes a long way in ensuring that these ailments are short and not frequent. Love and attention, cuddles and laughs can kiss away the blues and make childhood the best experience for your precious baby.

(The writer is Cofounder, KinderPass)

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