Small changes can help your baby build a stronger resistance to infection.
The best gift you give your baby when she enters the world is a good dose of your protective antibodies, which she has received via your placenta during pregnancy. We need to have a well functioning immune system for protection against infections and allergies.
Do this for your baby’s immune system
Do breastfeed, if possible, and eat a balanced diet to ensure an adequate milk supply that contains all the essential nutrients your baby needs to keep her healthy and strong. Breastfeeding means that your baby will continue to receive important antibodies via your breast milk to help fight off certain infections.
Do ensure that your baby is getting the essential nutrients required for correct functioning of everybody cell. Macronutrients - carbohydrates, proteins and fats - are important for energy production and the formation of vital tissues. Micronutrients (or trace elements) are also indispensable - these are calcium, which helps maintain body structure through the skeleton; selenium, copper, manganese and zinc form antioxidant enzymes to protect cells from damage by free radicals and minerals, such as, sodium and potassium help maintain fluid balance and a healthy nervous system.
Choose the correct formula milk if you are not breastfeeding. Know what ingredients to look for when choosing a baby formula. Nucleotides are an important ingredient as they help develop the immune system. Formula supplemented with fatty acids, in particular docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA) may help prevent common allergic diseases and upper respiratory infection in children. Iron is essential for immune function and for the synthesis of haemoglobin to carry oxygen to all the cells of the body.
Do wash your hands before feeding and touching your baby and after nappy changes.
Do keep your baby’s sleep zone free of dust, mould, acrylic bedding and pet hair as these may be triggers for allergies.
Do massage your baby as it is beneficial to her immune system. Massage is also a powerful medium to bond with your baby. Do have your baby vaccinated. Immunisation saves more lives than any other medical intervention worldwide. There are many vaccinations available, so do speak to your clinic sister to discuss your options.
People who will be in contact with your baby can infect him or her, so try as far as possible to make sure that all are healthy and vaccinated.
Do ensure that your baby gets enough sleep as it is during sleeping time that nutrients obtained from food, are doing their job of building immunity and fighting infections.
Avoid this for your baby’s immune system
Don’t let your baby be around people who smoke. Second-hand smoke has negative effects on the immune systems of infants and the lungs in particular. In addition, second-hand smoke reduces the amount of vitamin C in your child’s system, which may contribute further towards immune problems.
Don’t OVER-clean your baby’s environment. Your baby needs to develop a tolerance to allergens and can only do so if exposed to these - within moderation.
Don’t ignore your baby’s signals. Excessive tiredness and lethargy could be a sign of illness. Snoring may be due to congestion of the airways caused by allergies.
Don’t feed your infant foods containing sugar and preservatives as this may suppress immune function.
How do you keep your baby healthy?