Babies and toddlers are famous for having an average of 8 colds a year. It makes sense when you realize infants are building their immune systems from ground zero. Besides, who doesn’t want to hold and cuddle a newborn? Even older siblings, neighbors’ kids, relatives and friends’ kids all want to “hold the baby!”.
At birth, a newborn baby has high levels of his mother’s disease fighting antibodies and those babies who are lucky enough to be breast fed continue to receive antibodies. You should feel comforted in knowing your breast milk contains all the nutrients and immune boosting goodness your baby needs to help him from developing diseases and infections.
BUT… these antibodies that are passively passed from mom steadily decrease over a few months time. When a healthy baby reaches 2-3 months old, his immune system will slowly start to produce its own antibodies and by this time, the antibodies in breast milk have significantly decreased. During this delicate time, your tiny baby’s body is at a natural low point of antibodies in his blood stream. Take this into consideration when exposing him to people who may have a cold or virus… and children, who basically are little walking Petri dishes.
Babies immune systems are not fully developed until they are 6 months old. At this age, they are producing antibodies at the same rate as you and me.
When you decide to ween your baby from breast feeding, boost his vitamins through food. For example, zinc is known to strengthen the immune system to resist infections like the common cold.
The Best Source? Red meat, oily fish like salmon and whole grain cereal.
There are ways you can Fight off Illness in your newborn:
- Sleep on sheepskin. A recent study in Germany found babies who slept on sheepskin for the first 3 months of their life are almost 80% less likely to develop asthma. This study ties in with research suggesting growing up with a pet will help prevent your child from developing asthma and allergies. The microbes in animal skins help build up a stronger immune system.
Here’s a great idea… line your baby’s carrier and stroller with sheepskin.
- Fish oil supplements
- Vitamin D
- Plenty of fruits and vegetables
- For toddlers over the age of 2, besides plenty of fruits and vegys – introduce him to black elderberry syrup when he comes down with a cold. It will help with sinus infections and help reduce coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections.
⇒ Did you know… Elderberries are higher in flavonoids than blueberries, goji berries and blackberries. And have 50% more antioxidants than cranberries. Sambucol For Kids, 1-12 years old, is a black elderberry extract syrup.
Vitamin C won’t prevent a cold but it will reduce its severity and length. Provide plenty of berries, citrus fruits, dark leafy vegetables and brightly colored peppers like orange and red.
- Enjoy 20 minutes of fresh air and sunshine every day. Fresh air will clean out your baby’s lungs and reduce his exposure to other people’s germs/bugs.
- Keep your baby warm. Being cold can stress an infant’s immune system making him more susceptible to illness. So, layer that baby up.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Hand gels are great if you’re out & about but if you want to avoid viruses, warm water and soap kills nearly all bugs, including the norovirus which causes vomiting.
- Wipe babies hands clean and keep his toys clean where he can easily catch germs.
- Avoid people who are sick, have a cold, a cough or even a runny nose… and children who are often contagious with the common cold.
- Plenty of sleep. Establish a bed and nap time routine early on. This routine helps set their circadium rhythm (their internal baby clock). Being outside in the afternoon helps babies and children rest better at night.
Back to the health benefits of breast milk…
It takes several months before your newborn can fight off infection as well as someone whose immune system is fully matured. Breast milk has unquestionable nutritional value and no commercial baby formula can duplicate this level of immune protection. And believe me…they’ve tried.
Breastfed babies are protected against many, if not all, the diseases their mothers are immune to.
Word of Caution… uneven heating and scalding associated with microwaving breast milk is thought to destroy the immune properties of the milk.
Research has shown that during the first critical year of life, breastfed babies are less likely to develop infections like:
- lung infections
- ear infections
Mother’s milk contains antibodies, enzymes, fats and proteins that help build the baby’s immune system.
Because your infant’s underdeveloped immune system makes him vulnerable to all sorts of infections and diseases, the vaccinations your baby may be given, starting at 2 months of age, are said to help protect him against illnesses like:
- Pertusis (whooping cough)
- Rubella (German measles)
- Mumps and
- A type of influenza
So, what exactly are in those vaccines and does he really need them?
There’s a lot of controversy on this subject and I highly suggest you do your research, look at the ingredients of each vaccine and all the pros and cons. Then decide what you feel is best for your child. Form your own opinion and not solely that of your doctor. Remember…doctors are paid by the pharmaceutical companies to recommend and push certain drugs, medications and vaccines.
⇒ Table 38 is in the process of researching this topic in great depth and will soon be publishing a blog on our findings, so please check back to read, learn and voice your opinion…pro or con. It’s a touchy subject for sure and one that I look forward to your feedback.
Because of their immature immune systems, young babies are less able to fight infection than you and I can and the likelihood of them getting a serious and possibly overwhelming bacterial infection is much greater. So, eating as healthy as you can while pregnant and breast feeding will help your little one fight any harmful infections that come his way.
You can’t protect your newborn from every bug and germ he comes in contact with BUT, if he should develop a fever…GET TO THE DOCTOR!
Please feel free to leave thoughts and comments below. And please share your own experiences and tricks used to keep your newborn healthy.