Supporting Baby’s Immune Health

We all know that the immune system exists to protect our bodies from harmful invaders, and that it is vital to keeping us healthy. The complex immune system is a powerful force for identifying and eliminating dangerous foreign matter that enters the body. A baby’s immune system, however, is not yet developed enough to successfully defend that tiny body – it needs a little help. Do you know how to best support your baby’s immune system so that it can do its job keeping your little one healthy? Answer these three basic questions to find out!

What is the Number One Way to Boost a Newborn’s Immune System?

When it comes to strengthening your newborn’s fledgling immune system, the absolute best thing you can do is to choose to breastfeed. Breast milk, especially the early, darker colored milk called colostrum, is packed with antibodies that your baby can’t get anywhere else. These antibodies are the building blocks of immunity. They give your newborn a fighting chance against the bacteria and viruses that are new to his body. Your baby received antibodies through the placenta during your pregnancy, but from the moment of birth that protection begins to wane. The only way to continue to protect him is to keep the supply of antibodies up through breast milk.

While formulas have come a long way over the years, they simply can not provide these antibodies to your baby, so if you can, breastfeed for as long as possible. When you stop breastfeeding, the same effect will occur as when you gave birth – the antibodies will become less and less effective. The longer you breastfeed, the more time you allow for your baby to grow bigger and stronger, and for his immune system to make its own antibodies.

What Does a Fever Mean?

Fever is a sign that your baby’s immune system has kicked into gear to fight off an invading force. In the first few months of life, a fever in your baby is your first clue that something is not right. While older children and adults will come through most fevers just fine, a newborn doesn’t have the strength to fight off whatever the fever is signaling. Any fever in a newborn warrants a call to your doctor’s office. Antibiotics might be necessary to help her immune system fight off the illness causing the fever.

Recognize the signs that your baby is getting sick, such as fever and others – lethargy, changes in appetite and sleep habits – and help your baby’s immune system fight off the illness by stepping in quickly.

Is Exposing Baby to Germs Good or Bad?

It might sound like a silly question, but it’s a good one. Exposure to germs is what triggers the immune system to respond, and create antibodies that will fight off illness. However, a baby’s body isn’t strong enough to fight off many of the germs he might encounter. So what is the right answer? Avoid exposure to germs as much as possible for the first few months of life, when baby is still very small and vulnerable. During those early months, a simple illness can quickly become very serious, so be very careful.

As she grows and becomes stronger, you can be a little less militant on the germ patrol. This doesn’t mean exposing her to people you know are sick so she can build antibodies! Just that you can take her to more places and let her body start to build its defenses against what it encounters.

With the answers to all three of these questions, you arm yourself with the knowledge to boost your baby’s immune system so that eventually her body will be able to defend itself.

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