6 Tips to Boost Your Child’s Immunity During Winter
Posted on January 25 2023
It's that time of year again, and while the chill in the air is wonderful, it also heralds the onset of several flus, ear infections, colds, and coughs. While adults usually can cope with the seasonal change, it's the little ones that are most affected since their immune systems are still developing which causes them to get sick often. Today, there are a few things parents can do to help boost your kids’ immune systems so that they get ill less frequently and, even when they do, they recover quickly, and avoid prolonged sick days.
Here are 6 tips to help boost your little one’s immunity this winter season.
1. Breastfeed your little one
Breastmilk is not called ‘Liquid Gold’ without merit, breastfeeding your little one specially till they are at least 12 months of age is known to have immense benefits in building their immunity. If your baby is below the age of one, breastfeeding them when they are unwell ensures that while they may have a loss of appetite, they still get all the nutrients their body needs to recover sooner. Breastfeeding is also known to reduce gastrointestinal infections and respiratory infections in babies.
2. Serve them a rainbow on their plate
With a change in the weather, a healthy well-balanced diet is very crucial since it helps boost your child's immune system. Children should be encouraged to “eat a rainbow”, which means that as parents you must try and include a wide array of fruits and vegetables in their daily meals. Your child's diet should be rich in fruits, vegetables and nuts along with a high-fibre diet. The multitude of vitamins and minerals present in fruits and vegetables are needed to ensure good health and a strong immune system in the winter months. It is also very important to improve your kid’s good bacteria levels in their gut which can be done by incorporating fermented food such as yoghurt as a part of their daily diet.
3. Encourage them to wash their hands regularly
Touch is the most common cause of infections and viruses spreading, so the most important thing we should teach our children, irrespective of the season, is the proper technique of washing their hands. Children should be taught to always wash their hands after sneezing and coughing and after touching any other surface especially in schools and playgrounds. Washing hands thoroughly with water and soap removes the bacteria and viruses and thus reduces the spread of infection.
4. Proper Rest
A well-rested child has better chances of fighting illnesses and even bouncing back sooner. As a parent you must ensure that your little one’s getting enough sleep. Sleep requirements for children are different at every age, new-born babies from 0 to 3 months sleep for nearly 15 to 16 hours a day, and those between 4 to 12 months need about 12 to 15 hours of sleep. After this the sleep requirement reduces gradually in children to about 9 to 12 hours a day. When the child is not well rested it leads to lesser proteins especially cytokines which help fight infections.
5. Keep them active
As the weather gets cooler parents tend to encourage their kids to stay indoors instead of going outside to play and be active. The hygiene hypothesis has shown that lack of exposure to the outside environment suppresses the natural development of the immune system in our little ones. Playing outside and getting down and dirty benefits our kid’s immune system in a number of ways. It exposes them to a vast range of microbes, boosting the development of their immune system and ensuring that they are soaking up the sun’s rays thereby improving their Vitamin D levels. Also, ensuring that kids are active through regular exercise boosts the immune system by increasing the number of T cells that help fight infections during the winters.
Before the flu season, ensure that your little one’s vaccinations are up to date, and you follow the immunisation schedule. Always talk to your paediatrician about how you should schedule your little one’s immunisation and if there are any additional vaccinations required. Scheduled Flu and Pneumococcal vaccinations are crucial since they help in reducing infections in your little one.
While you want to take all possible precautions to prevent your little one from falling sick this winter season, don’t forget to enjoy the change in the weather with your little one too. Bundle them up in warm clothes and ensure you are taking all possible steps to boost their immunity and enjoy a stress-free winter.