How to Boost a Newborn’s Immune System

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.Petri dish

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:

sheepskin baby

  • 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.

  • Probiotics
  • Fish oil supplements
  • Vitamin D
  • Sunshine
  • Plenty of fruits and vegetablesblack elderberries
  • 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.
  • Hydrate!
  • 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…

Newborn Defense

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
  • diarrhea

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:

  • Diptheria
  • Tetanus
  • Hepatitus
  • Pertusis (whooping cough)
  • Polio
  • Measles
  • 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.

In Closing…

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.

14 comments to How to Boost a Newborn’s Immune System

  • mia

    This article is very educational and helpful especially for new parents like us who rely mostly on reading. It promotes the basic and easiest way to help babies’ immune system which is proven for centuries. Hope more moms can read this post and be motivated to do breastfeeding . Best of luck!

    • Karen

      Hello, Mia…thank you for your lovely comments and congratulations on being a new parent. What an exciting time this is for you. I agree with your remarks on breast feeding especially now when there is such controversy about vaccines.  Thank you for visiting and I hope you’ll come back again and again. 

  • Erin

    This is a very interesting post regarding immunity. This is a topic that is very important to me as I have had an organ transplant and have an immune system that is suppressed. I am thankful that I am no longer having children since I am not able to be around sick babies or children. My hospital recently has a measles outbreak and I had to wear masks and use hand sanitizer to protect myself. The children that were infected with measles were 100% from outside of the United States and had not been vaccinated to protect them, so I do question your advice that parents do research to decide if their children would benefit or be harmed by getting vaccinations. The vaccines that you list protect against diseases that can be fatal if a child does not get vaccinated. What are your thoughts on exposing babies and children to germs and disease with the idea in mind that the immune system would be strengthed by the exposure to the germs or disease.?

    • Karen

      Hello, Erin…Thank you for taking the time to leave your thoughts, comments and sharing your traumatic experience. Where was this outbreak of measles? I’m currently researching the topic of vaccines and will be publishing a blog about it soon. I’m on the fence right now.  Unfortunately, this country is seeing outbreaks of diseases that were eradicated decades ago because illegal immigrants, who have not been vaccinated, are bringing them in. So, acknowledging that, perhaps it’s best to play it safe and vaccinate. Why take a chance?

      You asked about exposing babies to germs and disease to strengthen their immune system. I would be extremely careful during the first 4 months of his life with who he came in contact with and where I would take him. I certainly would not fly with him. His undeveloped immune system could not handle the unhealthy air on an airplane. I’d have a pet dog to help strengthen his immune system but I would not expose my infant to a disease…ever. 

      Thanks for visiting and I wish you well with your health.

  • heidi hoage

    This is very informative about the immunity of a newborn. My niece just had a bad a few months ago and the info some good stuff that i can pass on to her. My oldest is 19 now i wish i knew of some the info myself. Luckily both my kids are healthy. Again good info shared.

    • Karen

      Greetings, Heidi…I think you meant to say your niece had a baby a few months ago, right?  In all fairness to you, a lot of this information wasn’t available 19 years ago. We just did our best with what little information there was out there. Thank you for visiting and commenting. And congratulations on the newest member of your family.

  • Randene

    Thank you for this post. I was intrigued by it right away because my daughter was on antibiotics for the first two weeks of her life from an unknown infection. The course of antibiotics caused thrush. We then became caught in a cycle of antibiotics (now to treat the thrush) and thrush being the result. After MONTHS of this, I had a friend recommend Bio-K (a very powerful probiotic). The thrush was gone in 2 days! Probiotics, vitamin C, fresh air, and many of the other things you highlight have become a mainstay for my family.

    Thanks again for posting!

    • Karen

      Dear Randene,

      My heart goes out to you. At a time of celebration and excitement, you and your baby had to go through months of being caught up in that vicious circle. I understand thrush can be quite painful for a newborn. Did you breast feed? I ask because breast milk contains prebiotics which promotes the growth of good bacteria in the baby that the antibiotics kill along with the bad bacteria. Good to know about Bio-K…thanks for sharing.

      • Hi Karen, I did breast feed, though she had a terrible time trying to nurse with her mouth so painful. I really support your topic; what helpful advice for young moms!!

        • That must have been horrible witnessing your newborn go through that…and to have it go on for months. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for you. So grateful that she is fine now and thriving. Give her an extra hug, for me, when you tuck her into bed tonight.

  • Zuzana

    I think most people are aware of the many benefits of breast milk. I breastfed my baby for 10 months and during that time she only had a mild cold once. I’m just so glad that I was able to boost her immune system with my own body, nothing can beat that. It’s more challenging now because she refuses to eat most of the veggies we give her, but at least she loves fruits. I need to remember that elderberry syrup you mentioned when she is older.
    Some great tips. Thanks

    • Karen

      Hello, Zuzana…thanks for visiting and leaving your comments. It’s nice to read a personal experience with breast feeding. Thank you for sharing.

      When I was young, the only vegetable I would eat was corn, so hopefully there’s hope for your daughter. Have you tried raw vegetables like carrots and maybe celery stuffed with peanut butter? When my daughter was a toddler, she loved to snack on frozen peas in a little paper cup while I was preparing dinner and to this day…she still loves them.

  • Lacey

    This post was very interesting to read. I knew the wonderful benefits of breast milk for building a healthy immune system, but some of the others I had no idea. I never would have thought to even research about sheepskin to help prevent allergies and asthma. I have had allergies my whole life and know how miserable they can be. I hope my daughter is luckier than I, I wish I would have known this when she was first born!

    • Karen

      Hi, Lacey…thank you for leaving your thoughts and comments. Learning about sheepskin was knew to me too and something I did not know when my daughter was born. I CAN attest to the benefits of growing up with a dog. Have you thought of that?

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