Feed him healthy
These superhero nutrients will boost your baby’s immune system to fight off germs
How to boost baby’s immune system
It might still be summer, but now is the time to start boosting your bub’s immune system for the cooler months. And you can do this very easily, by feeding him all the nutrients he needs to keep his infection-fighting system in tip-top condition. His immune system won’t reach full maturity until he’s at least five years old, so giving it all the nutrients it needs to function well will help him stay healthy.
When he was born, the structure of your baby’s immune system was already in place. But he’s still busy building up all the good bacteria in his digestive system and the antibodies he needs to fight off germs and stay well. Think of it as a newly built house, that still needs furnishing. As his body encounters germs through illness and vaccinations he’ll start to develop specific antibodies. But he’ll develop most of his immunity between six months and three years, and what you feed him can really make a difference.
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to six months, and breastmilk naturally contains antibodies. After six months of age, you can start introducing your little one to solids. Here’s a guide to getting the biggest immune-boosting nutrient hits in his pint-sized portions, from paediatric nutritionist Sara Patience.
Your baby needs iron to transport oxygen around his body to help his immune system work well. The store of iron he was born with only lasts six months and, as his body can’t make iron, he’ll need to get it from some food every day. If you can, give him iron in every meal – add a tablespoon of red meat wherever you can. If he’s not keen, try blending it into a paste when you make spaghetti bolognaise. Dark poultry meat has far more iron than white, so another simple way to up the iron in your child’s diet is to use thighs instead of breasts. Chickpeas are another good source: try mashing a tablespoon to make hummus and serve with red capsicum as the vitamin C will help his body absorb the iron more easily.
Antibody-building VITAMIN A
Vitamin A helps your youngster’s body build infection-fighting antibodies and white blood cells to attack invading germs. Orange fruit and vegetables such as carrots and mandarins are rich in it. In fact, a toddler’s entire daily allowance can be found in just a third of a sweet potato. Try making some tasty wedges by baking some with a drizzle of olive oil.