4 steps to boosting your baby’s immunity this winter

Keep your baby healthy this winter with these vital tips from the experts.

07 May 2015
by Bridget McNulty

1. Breast is best

Not only is breast milk full of immunity-enhancing antibodies, it also decreases the incidence of ear infections, allergies, pneumonia and meningitis in babies, among other diseases. As a result, breastfed babies have been shown to fall ill less often and experience less dramatic symptoms when they are ill.

However, while breast milk offers an added level of immune protection that commercial formula doesn’t, not all mothers are able to breastfeed. Fortunately some brands of formula have some supposed benefits to immunity and contain, for example, prebiotics (for the growth of healthy intestinal microflora) and are supplemented with DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid).

2. Supplements and food

While adults are frequently told to pop a supplement to make up for dietary deficiencies, does the same advice hold true for babies? Medical experts all agree that if you consume a diet that is well-balanced, then there is no need for supplements -- that they only have a role where a deficiency has been identified. The same holds true in your baby's case. 

When it comes to baby health, the latest trend seems to be towards specific supplements, namely zinc, vitamin A and probiotics. However, here too medical experts maintain that it is preferable to rather ensuring your baby gets these in a healthy diet, unless they have a specific deficiency that has been identified by a medical professional. 

The other two supplements often recommended for young children are vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that boosts immunity, and omega-3 fatty acids – found in breast milk and in other foods.

Find these crucial vitamins in these foods:

  • Vitamin C: carrots, green beans, oranges, kiwi fruit and strawberries
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: eggs, fish, wild rice, canola oil, flax and beans
  • Zinc: eggs, red meat, whole grains and soybeans
  • Vitamin A: sweet potatoes, leafy greens, butternut squash, apricots and cantaloupe

3. The value of zzzzzzs

Sleep deprivation makes adults more susceptible to illness, and the same holds true for infants – especially considering that newborns need up to 18 hours of sleep a day, toddlers 12 to 13 hours, and pre-schoolers 10 hours of sleep every day.

4. Vaccinations

There has been a lot of controversy lately surrounding vaccinations, and whether or not they actually do more harm than good, but medical experts remain convinced that vaccinations are the most cost effective and efficacious medical intervention to date. Globally they have saved the lives of millions of children from infectious diseases. Yes, they have their side effects, but they are usually minor.

See here for Clicks' Childhood Vaccination Schedule.

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