Children are constantly falling prey to coughs and colds and viral infections. A strong immune system is the only way to protect them from such illnesses. Our immune system develops as we grow. For this reason, many doctors consider the occasional bout of cold or flu to be a good thing for 6-8 year olds. This helps build their immune system. Here are a few other ways you can boost their immune system.
- Breastfeed your baby: It is recommended that you should breastfeed your baby for as long as possible up to a year. Colostrums or the milk produced during the first few days after a baby's birth is extremely rich in antibodies that fight a number of diseases. The white blood cells in breast milk can protect your baby against ear infections, allergies, indigestion, urinary tract infections and lower their risk of suffering from diabetes, colitis, Crohn's disease and some forms of cancer later in their life.
- Have a fiber rich diet: Give your child plenty of fruits and vegetables in their daily diet. These are rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients can increase the body's production of white blood cells and interferon. Interferon is an antibody coating cell surfaces that block viruses. Such a diet can also help a child build immunity against cancer and heart diseases later in life.
- Quality sleep: Sleep deprivation can increase your susceptibility to illnesses by lowering the production of white blood cells and weakening the immune system. Insist on your child getting adequate sleep. While a newborn may need 18 hours of sleep a day, toddlers require 12-13 hours of sleep. Preschoolers need at least 10 hours of sleep a day. If it isn't possible for your child to get his or her sleep in one go, encourage them to take a nap in the afternoons.
- Exercise: Regular exercise boosts the production of white blood cells. To encourage your children to get away from computers and television, make exercise a family activity. Exercising will also help them release their energy and allow them to have a better sleep.
- Prevent the Spreading of Germs: From an early age, you must inculcate good hygiene habits in your children. Teach them to wash their hands with soap before and after a meal, every time they come into the house from outdoors and after using the toilet. Disposing of a child's personal items such as toothbrushes after they have had an infection can also keep the germs from spreading.