How to Boost Your Child’s Immune System
The birth of a baby is one of the happiest events in your life. Young parents explore a new, never-before-seen world. A world of the first tears and first smiles, a world of endless happiness, care, and love—which parents will cherish for many, many years.
What causes the most amount of worry and concern for new parents is the health of their child. This is a reasonable concern since the foundation of health that is laid in early childhood will define the frequency of illnesses that a person could get in his or her adult life. This is why it is of utmost importance that parents do all that they can to strengthen their baby’s immunity, as well as to understand and know all of the ways to keep the child’s immunity strong. A weakened immune system is the main cause of a child’s constant colds and ailments, which bring everyone a great deal of worries and stress.
To understand how to strengthen the immune system, one must first understand what the immune system is, and how it works.
What is the Immune System?
To learn how to build up your child’s immunity it is important to know all the necessary information about how the immune system functions. Understanding this process makes it easier for you to choose the right way to strengthen your baby’s immune system.
“Immunity” is the way your body fights off infectious agents that are carriers of foreign genetic information—like viruses, bacteria, and fungi. It’s important to understand that it is not necessary to measure the strength of your immune system by the number of cold-related diseases your child gets, as those do not often develop into inflammation.
There are two different types of immune systems:
- Acquired immune system. Acquired immunity is produced when a person recovers from an infectious disease like chicken pox or measles. This kind of immunity can be temporary or permanent depending on the diseases a person has acquired.
- Innate immune system. This is also called inborn immunity, which begins to form in the fetus during the pregnancy.
These two immune systems, in turn, are then divided into:
- Antibacterial Immunity. This is a kind of immune system that’s main goal is to fight disease using the disease’s causative agent to destroy it.
- Antitoxic Immunity. This system fights illness with toxic products which a causative agent can produce or leave after its decay.
Moreover, immunologists have further divisions of all the named kinds of immunity, based on two characteristics:
- Natural Immunity is produced by your body after the contact with causative agents.
- Artificial Immunity is an immunity which your body acquires after vaccination.
The Role of Vaccination in Building Up Your Child’s Immune System
We asked a professional immunologist with a great deal of experience in the field about how parents can boost their child’s immunity with the help of vaccines. Here’s his answer to the question:
“People have recently started to argue about whether it’s necessary to immunize your baby. Despite the modern tendency to refuse vaccines, the statistics say that vaccinated children get colds more rarely.”
The incidence rate of such diseases as diphtheria and poliomyelitis has recently increased. It can be explained by a great number of infected foreigners who come to our country from countries with low degrees of medical care. Because of this, it is very important to understand the function and necessity of vaccines in today’s society.
Vaccines help develop immunity in a baby’s body by imitating an infection—this infection will not cause illness, but will instead cause the immune system to produce T-lymphocytes (which are types of defensive white blood cells) and antibodies. Once the infection is gone, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight disease in the future, though this process generally takes a few weeks. Sometimes, after receiving a vaccine, the imitation infection can cause minor symptoms, like a fever—this is a normal reaction to a vaccination. Most of the vaccines your child receives are administered via shots, though some can be given by other means, like in the form of a nasal spray. No matter how they are given, they all perform the same function.
When it comes to boosting your child’s immunity, vaccinations are the first, necessary step.
Signs of Low Immunity
Before you begin to strengthen your child’s immune system, it is by all means necessary to ensure that it is, in fact, weak and requires boosting. Keep in mind that if your baby has a cold from time to time, that doesn’t mean that his or her immune system is weak. In most cases it is during this very period of the disease, that your body is taught to react to causative agents (different viruses and bacteria) the right way. There’s no need to interfere with the development of a healthy child if he or she has about 3-4 colds a year. However, this does mean that a weakened immunity can be very difficult to identify, so the main task for parents is to understand the very moment they should take care of their baby’s immune system. A few noticeable signs of low immunity for parents to look out for include:
- If your child has such diseases as ARD (Acute Respiratory Disease), ARVI (Acute Respiratory Viral Infection), flu or bronchitis more than 5 times a year.
- If your child does not have a fever during periods of illness. A fever is a very serious symptom that shows that the immune system is too weak to attack viruses and bacteria.
- Tiredness, skin paleness, and rings under the eyes can indicate problems with your child’s immunity. But these can also be symptoms of anemia and various blood disorders. It is important to visit a doctor if your child is displaying any of these symptoms.
- Take a careful look at your baby’s lymphonodus. If his or her immunity is low, lymph glands on the neck or underarms will be constantly enlarged, and will feel soft and painless.
- Some children with a low immune system have an enlarged spleen.
- Often allergic reactions can identify problems with your child’s immunity.
Disbacteriosis also goes together with weakened immunity. Disbacteriosis is characterized by such symptoms as lack of appetite, borborygmus, excessive gas, constipation and diarrhea without intestinal infections and weight loss.
The first thing that parents should do when they notice their child’s weak immunity is to visit a doctor. Don’t try to cure it on your own. Vitamins do not help in this case, special medicines for immunity boosting are very strong and can be taken only under the care of your physician.
Every child has special features of his or her immune system based on what age group they fall into, which we will take a look at below.
Features of an Infant’s Immune System
Unfortunately, most women begin to worry about their baby’s immunity as soon as he or she is born. However, it’s quite wrong taking into account the features of a baby’s immune system. In most cases, boosting a newborn’s immune system can actually have adverse effects.
The main feature of a baby’s immune system is the presence of maternal immunity which is formed from maternal antibodies during the pregnancy. This is why diseases such as measles and chicken pox rarely occur in the first year of a baby’s life. However, colds happen quite often and a newborn’s immunity is built up under the influence of such usual diseases.
However, if the baby is born with asphyxia, congenital pneumonia, bronchitis or others, the question of how to boost the baby’s immune system becomes very important, as such children have a bigger risk of infections than their healthy age-mates.
Don’t give your baby any medicine for boosting its immunity if your doctor doesn’t prescribe it. Only your child’s primary care physician, who has been supervising your baby’s health from day one, knows all of his or her health characteristics.
However, there are some useful pieces of advice about how to strengthen the baby’s immune system, which will be good for any child.
Longtime breastfeeding definitely gives a boost to a child’s immunity. Early breastfeeding can sometimes be uncomfortable for the mother, that can be explained because of an abnormal lactation process, which is common for new mothers in the first month after childbirth. If it seems like you are not producing enough milk, or that on the contrary you have an excess amount of it, do not give up and switch to bottle or formula feeding. Your body will soon get used to breastfeeding and will adequately meet your baby’s needs. You’ll soon appreciate all the advantages of breastfeeding and can be sure that your child will not have a weakened immunity.
Tempering is one more way of strengthening your baby’s immune system. You can begin your child’s tempering on the first day of his or her life. However, do not overdo it. Don’t bring your naked baby outside in the freezing weather or bathe it in cold water. Tempering should be done in the right way, otherwise, your baby will have a weakened immunity. For tempering, take your baby for a walk in the fresh air without layering him or her in warm clothes. You can begin tempering after you and your baby come home from the hospital. After every swaddling or changing diapers, leave your child to lie for 5-10 minutes without clothes. Have a careful look at the room temperature. It shouldn’t be below 65F°. Increase the time of every walk in the fresh air for a minute until it lasts for 30 minutes. Remember the simple rule: dress your child up the same as yourself with one more additional item. Besides tempering, it can also help to make sure your baby avoids perspiring during the walk, as an illness can result from it.
Many people think that a newborn doesn’t have immunity and that’s why it’s necessary to make its environment sterile. As we’ve already said, it’s quite wrong. If you worry about your child’s immunity, there are a lot of safe ways to boost it. Of course, you should follow simple sanitary rules, but there’s no need to boil his or her clothes and iron them for hours, because all the bacteria which your child encounters will actually strengthen his or her immune system.
Immunity Boosting before Kindergarten
Time goes fast and your baby has already grown up. When it’s time to go to Kindergarten, everyone thinks they know how to boost their child’s immune system. Surely everybody knows the story that a child goes to Kindergarten for three days and then stays at home for a week because of illness. This causes parents to become crazy with the idea of boosting their kid’s immunity. That’s why it is important to think about this beforehand, as a child’s immune system recovery is much more difficult and takes longer. Nowadays the topic about how to strengthen children’s immunity is very popular and it’s important to take this theme seriously.
Here are some pieces of advice about boosting children’s immunity from our immunologist:
Have a good look at your child’s food ration. All the food he or she eats should include necessary vitamins. As your child never gets a strong immune system until his or her body is provided with all the required vitamins.
It is also a good idea to give your child a poly-vitamin complex.
Keep regular hours. Find out what the schedule for your future Kindergarten looks like. Train your child to follow this plan little by little. This simple trick can help boost your child’s immunity. Besides, it will also help you to avoid “remedies” for strengthening the immune system which are so popular among many parents, but are not recommended by medical professionals. It’s very easy to explain: The first visit to Kindergarten is a stressful situation for your child’s psyche and this sudden change in the daily routine is a stress for his or her body. That’s why immunity becomes weaker and, as a result, he or she gets colds very often. To avoid such an unpleasant situation, you should know how to strengthen your child’s immune system before Kindergarten.
Make your child ready for Kindergarten psychologically. Help him or her get used to other children. Take your kids for a walk to the playgrounds and play with them, these are also great ways to train your child’s immune system to resist various infections.
Recovery and Boosting Your Child’s Immune System after Disease
Unfortunately, after severe diseases or operations, the baby’s immune system often becomes weakened. And all parents worry about how to strengthen their child’s immunity after these events.
In this case, your pediatrician who has cured your baby can be of great help. He or she knows exactly what to do to boost your child’s immune system after being ill.
Parents, in turn, can use various natural remedies to strengthen their baby’s immunity. They often help to recover the immune system for a very short period of time. Here are some words about how to boost to your child’s immune system with the help of home remedies:
Nature is a best friend in strengthening your child’s immunity.
Looking for ways to boost the immune system parents often come across some natural remedies for strengthening children’s health. Home remedies sometimes can be more effective than various medicines. Moreover, they do not have any side effects on your body and aren’t as strong as many medicines, as different medicines for immunity boosting often have negative effects on your child’s digestive tract and urinary system. Besides, if parents decide to give their baby special medicines for strengthening the immune system and give bigger doses than are recommended, it can make the whole matter much worse. That’s why self-treatment should be out of the question.
Here are some recipes of natural remedies for your baby’s immune system:
First of all, have a good look at your baby’s food rations. Otherwise all the information about strengthening the immunity with home remedies will be useless. Exclude from his or her diet all possible products with preservatives or coloring agents. French fries, chewing gums and lemonade don’t do any good for your child’s health. Every kid should get healthy, wholesome food.
Rose hips are a good example of a natural home remedy for strengthening immunity. Replace all of your baby’s beverages, except milk, with a rose hips infusion. To make such an infusion, take 200G of fresh rose hips or 300G of its dry berries, 100G of sugar and 1L of water. Cover all the berries with water and put it on the stove. Cook it until all the berries boil soft. Put the sugar in and cook it for two minutes. Wrap the pan in a towel and leave it to get cold. Once cooled, filter the infusion. Your child can drink it as much as he or she wants, but it shouldn’t be less that 100G per every 10KG of his or her weight. This infusion can cause a bit of urinary frequency. It’s quite normal and shouldn’t worry you. One note, if your child has any problems with his or her kidneys, then you should consult your doctor first.
Scientists say that children who often go barefoot have a stronger immunity. On a human’s foot there are a great number of bio-active points and their stimulation can give a boost to your immune system. Going barefoot along a sandy shore does your health a lot of good. In winter you can go barefoot at home. To prevent your child from getting cold, he or she can wear socks.
For children 10-14 years old you can prepare the following home remedy to strengthen their immune system: Take a head of garlic and 100G of white honey. Mince peeled garlic and mix it in with the honey. Leave the mixture for a week and then give a teaspoon of it to your child with his or her food at least three times a day. But if your child has any kind of food allergies, this natural remedy is out of the question.
The easiest and most useful way of immunity boosting is to go to the seaside. As a rule, several weeks spent on the seaside can give your child a boost of energy and strengthen immunity for a whole year.
We hope our article will be useful for you and we wish your children’s immune systems to be strong and healthy all year round!