You want to protect your child as much as you can, and it makes sense that you want them to have the best immune system possible. You can help your child avoid sickness by encouraging good habits and making choices to boost their immune system from birth to adolescence. Here are six ways to boost your child’s immunity.
1. Schedule Wellness Visits
These visits, also known as check-ups, are important for your child’s health. Younger children require more frequent visits to check their growth and development. You can discuss any concerns you have, and your pediatrician will let you know what to expect as your child grows.
Wellness visits usually occur at these milestones:
- In the first year: during the newborn period, two months, four months, six months, nine months, and 12 months.
- In the second year: 15 months, 18 months, and 24 months.
- In the third year: 30 months. After that, wellness visits are yearly.
2. Stick to the Recommended Immunization Schedule
Vaccinations start in infancy and are administered during your child’s wellness visits. They prevent infections like measles, mumps, chickenpox, and rotavirus. It’s important to follow your pediatrician’s advice about the childhood vaccination schedule. Your children should also get a flu shot every year, especially those with asthma or other chronic health conditions.
3. Breastfeed Newborns
The decision to breastfeed is a very personal one, and it may not be possible for some. If you’re able to exclusively breastfeed your child for the first six months of their life, it may provide benefits to your child in reducing the risk of infection. According to the Mayo Clinic, breastfeeding allows the mother to pass along hormones and antibodies to her baby. Some research suggests that breastfeeding may also reduce allergies.
4. Teach Proper Handwashing
As many as 80% of infections are transmitted through touch. Proper handwashing is important. Teach your children to wash their hands using warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. This can remove bacteria and viruses — and even reduce the chance of lung infections by up to 45%. Children (and adults) should wash their hands after sneezing, coughing, and using the bathroom.
5. Prioritize Sleep Hygiene
Sleep and immunity are linked, so it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene. Those who don’t get enough sleep limit their bodies’ ability to produce cytokines. These proteins help to fight infection and reduce inflammation.
Sleep requirements per night vary by age. The Cleveland Clinic recommends the following amounts of sleep:
- Preschoolers (three- to five-year-olds) need between 10 and 13 hours.
- Children (six- to 13-year-olds) need between nine and 11 hours.
- Adolescents (14- to 17-year-olds) need between eight and 10 hours.
6. Promote a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet supports a healthy immune system. Encourage your child to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while limiting processed foods. Healthy food choices ensure your child gets enough vitamins for a strong immune system. Even if your children are picky eaters, there are ways to ensure they get enough nutritious food.
Ready to give your child the best immune system possible? Whether they need immunizations or a regular check-up, we can help. Schedule an appointment today.