Babies and toddlers are highly susceptible to viruses that cause colds and flu, because their immune systems are still immature. Give your little one’s immune system a boost with these tips.
Although it’s not possible to prevent your child from getting colds or flus, you can lower your little one’s risk of contracting a respiratory virus. Give your child’s immune system a boost with these tips:
- Take your child for the flu vaccination, advises nursing sister, Lizeth Kruger. Babies from age six months can have the flu shot.
- Start with a good diet. Supplements have their place, says Kruger but fruit and veggies are packed with immune-boosting nutrients and should be your first line of defence. Try not to substitute fruit juice for the real thing, she adds.
- If you have a fussy eater, look for a good multi-vitamin says Kruger. Consider adding omega-3 fatty acids, as well as calcium and magnesium.
- Breastfeed your baby. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for a baby’s first six months.One of the reasons for this is because your antibodies help protect your baby against infections and diseases.
- Encourage good hygiene. Research has shown that hand-washing is one of the simplest ways to reduce your child’s chances of contracting a cold or the flu.
- Ensure that your child gets enough sleep. Research has shown that a lack of sleep undermines the immune system in adults and children.
- Monitor family stress. Although stress is an unavoidable part of life, research published in the Journal of Immunology shows that a stressful family life directly impacts a child’s immunity.
Tips for surviving the cold and flu season
- Boost your family and caregiver’s immunity during cold and flu season. This way, you’re all less likely to introduce viruses into your home. Encourage the whole family to practise good hygiene such as regular hand-washing.
- Check your daycare or school’s sick-child policy. If your child regularly comes home with a virus, perhaps the school needs to be more vigilant on enforcing the ‘stay-home’ rule. Similarly, if your child is ill, keeping him at home will help other parents.
- Keep calm and carry on. Bear in mind that while you’ll have a cranky, miserable child, viruses and infections pass within a few days and soon your little one will be up and running again.
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