A Healthy Immune System for Baby

A healthy immune system is vital to helping your baby’s body to fight off infections and avoid illness. To keep her immune system working at peak performance, baby needs a little help from you.

In the womb, antibodies are passed to baby from her mother via the placenta. But after birth, their power will start to wane, and unless they are replace baby will be vulnerable to illness. A baby won’t start to produce her own antibodies until she is a few months old. In the meantime, there is a way to help her out.

Breastfeeding and Immunity

Breast milk is the only way to get vital antibodies to your baby in the first months of life. The AAP recommends that new mothers breastfeed for at least the first four months, but preferably exclusively for the first six months. This isn’t just because breast milk contains antibodies. It also gives your baby the optimum nutritional content she needs to be healthy. A body that is receiving all the nutrients it needs is a body that supports immune health.

Baby’s Diet and Immune Health

When your baby starts on solid baby foods, make sure to offer her a wide variety of healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables. The nutrients in these foods will help to support her immune system and keep her healthy. Look for foods high in vitamins C and E, which are known to have immunity-strengthening properties. These foods include choices like applesauce, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli and more. Also, be sure to include foods high in zinc, which also supports immune health. This important mineral appears in proteins such as chicken and eggs.

Probiotics have recently been recognized as playing a major role in immune health. They are the good bacteria that our bodies need in order to fight off any number of illnesses. Probiotics can be found in foods like yogurt, but use caution. Many commercial yogurts have been flash heated to maintain shelf life – which kills many of the good bacteria. Look for an all natural yogurt that has not been heated. You can also use probiotic supplements; talk to your baby’s doctor about how to implement them into baby food diet.

The Importance of Sleep

It might not be the first thing to come to mind when you think of a healthy immune system, but making sure that your baby gets the sleep he needs is actually vital to supporting a healthy immune system. In the same way that adults can get run down and become vulnerable to infection when we aren’t getting enough sleep, babies need sleep to stay healthy – and they require a lot more sleep than we do.

During sleep, the body repairs and rejuvenates itself, making it better able to fight off illness. A newborn requires upwards of 16 hours of sleep, and in the first year of life that need won’t go down much. Make sure baby gets enough rest by sticking to a bedtime routine and a nap schedule as much as you can. If baby seems to be sleeping more than usual, he might be fighting something off. Let him get his rest, and watch for further signs of illness. Sometimes all the body needs is a little extra down time to let the immune system kick in and do its job.

A healthy immune system means a healthy baby, so do everything you can to support it from the day he is born. If you pay attention to his body’s needs, your baby’s immune system will stay strong and keep him strong too.

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