Because of the fragile nature of a baby’s immune system, nature has given the mother the ability to transfer her immunity onto the infant by way of antibodies through breast milk. This is known as passive immunity.
When the baby is about 2-3 months old, its immune system starts to develop on its own. At this point, the antibodies that the mother transferred to it start to drop. Its immune system starts to develop when it comes into contact with viruses, bacteria and fungi and even combats them.
By age 1, the baby’s immune system develops significantly, although not entirely. According to some experts, when the child reaches 12-14 years of age, its immune system becomes fully developed and reaches the adult levels of antibody production.
So, here we see that it is very important for the infant as well as the mother to consume nutritious foods. If the mother eats nutritious food, it passes to the baby and helps it develop a solid immunity.
Nature has given children an amazing ability to heal themselves. When a baby receives antibiotics for an infection, it’s not the antibiotic that heals the infection. Instead, it’s the baby’s immune system that does the job, and the antibiotic only makes the job easier. If the baby’s immune system doesn’t do its job, the antibiotic will become useless. In this case, the child will develop a chronic illness.
What Are The Best Ways To Boost An Infant’s Immunity?
- Breastfeed the infant for as long as possible.
- Keep your baby away from people who are sick.
- Always clean your hands when handling newborns.
- Use baby probiotics to ensure a healthy intestinal tract.
- Make sure the breastfeeding mother is eating a healthy diet.
- Make sure the baby is exposed to enough sunlight or Vitamin D.
According to numerous studies, breastfeeding is the best method to boost a baby’s immunity. But, if the child is started on solid foods here are some suggestions. The following foods help develop a baby’s immune system:
- Breast Milk- The best way to help a baby develop its immune system is to breastfeed it for the first six months after birth. Antibodies in the breast milk will help the baby combat infections even when its immune system isn’t fully developed. Even after starting solid foods, breastfeeding should still be an important source of nutrients and antibodies until fully weaned.
- Protein- Proteins make the antibodies that help the infant fight off infections. Babies need more protein than adults as a percentage of their diets. Good sources of protein include paneer, cheese, eggs, chicken, meat, lentils (dals) and beans.
- Legumes – Bengal gram (chana), Peas (matar), Chickpea (chhole), Kidney beans (rajma), Cow peas (lobhia), and Lentils (daal).
- Meat- chicken and fish.
- Dairy Products- milk, yogurt, cheese.
- Probiotics- Curd (dahi), lassi, chaach, raita.
- Prebiotics- Banana, onions, tomatoes and Garlic. A good immune-boosting meal for the infant can be a mashed banana and curd (dahi) purée. This diet has both probiotics and prebiotics.
- Well-Cooked Eggs
- Nuts (in a ground or powdered form to avoid choking).
- Vitamin C- Lemon, sweet lime (mosambi), oranges, gooseberry (amla), cranberry (karaunda), strawberry, sweet potatoes, guava and tomatoes.
- Green Leafy Vegetables- like radish leaves (mooli patta), amaranth (chauli), mustard leaves (sarson ka saag), turnip leaves (shalgam ka saag), and fenugreek leaves (methi).
Other Methods To Develop Your Baby’s Immunity-
- On-time Vaccination- Vaccinations begin as soon as a baby is born and continue till it turns two, after which time there are some booster doses that must be given at the recommended time. Keep the infant’s vaccination schedule up to date. Do not miss the vaccination or boosters as it will make the baby prone to diseases.
- Meals On Time- Maintain a regular mealtime for the baby.
- Maintain A Good Sleep Routine- Make sure that the baby goes to bed at the same time every evening and sleeps for at least 10-12 hours each day.
- Try to include curd (dahi) and fermented foods in the child’s diet.
Anti-nutrients to Avoid-
trans fatty Acids- These fatty acids are found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils like vanaspati ghee and margarine. Trans fatty acids are major anti-nutrients.
Excessive Sugar- Although sugar has a lot of calories, it has no vitamins and minerals needed for EFA metabolism or for energy. Excessive sugar consumption is a major health concern.
Excessive Salt- Salt is an essential nutrient, excess salt consumption causes problems and must be avoided.
Free Radicals- Free radicals are produced in the body when cells use oxygen; these free radicals kill cell membranes and wipe out EFAs. High heat that damages oil used for frying produces many free radicals. Avoid cooking practices and foods that have subjected vegetable oils to high heat. Antioxidants defend our body from free radical damage.
Nutrients play unique regulatory effects in the prenatal period that shaped the baby’s development of the immune system. Getting the proper nutrition during early life can positively impact the gut and therefore the developing immune system. For instance, studies have shown that allergies may be prevented by making the right nutritional choices during the first 1000 days of life.
Breast milk intake is a crucial factor in the immune system development of infants and newborns, and breast milk contains numerous components that are thought to regulate immunological responses, such as growth factors, cytokines, lactoferrin, leukocytes, IgA, oligosaccharides, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.