Babies and toddlers pick up an average of eight colds a year, but there are simple ways to boost your baby’s immune system and help him fight off illness.
Sleep on sheepskin
Cosy pram or buggy liners made out of sheepskin could actually help to boost your baby’s immune system.
A recent study from Germany found babies who sleep on animal fur for the first three months of life are almost 80% less likely to have asthma when they’re six years old.
It ties in with previous research suggesting that children who grow up with pets are less likely to develop asthma and allergies because the microbes in animal skins help to build up a stronger immune system.
Try the Bowron Soft Natural Lambskin Comforter, £49, Mothercare.
The latest buzzword in boosting childhood immunity is probiotics and there’s now a wide range available that are suitable for babies more quickly. A study in the journal Paediatrics found babies who had gastroenteritis recovered more quickly if given probiotics.
What’s more, giving your baby probiotics can also help reduce the chances of him developing eczema and allergies, according to research carried out at the Swansea Baby Trial.
Try ProVen Baby Probiotic, £12.95 for breast-fed babies and £13.95 formula-fed babies from provenprobiotics.co.uk.
Boost his EFAs
Tucking into oily fish such as salmon isn’t just good for boosting brain development, the high levels of essential fatty acids (EFAs) have also been found to help improve immunity in children.
EFAs are needed to help white blood cells – which fight off infection – to function. A study in the Journal of Immunology discovered that children with a history of respiratory infections get better more quickly when taking EFA supplements.
And while oily fish is a great source of EFAs, it’s not always the easiest of foods to get past the average two year old, so a supplement may be an easier alternative.
Try Biocare Children’s OmegaBerry (£12.80, The Nutricentre), which has a tropical fruit flavour.
Top up his sunshine vitamin
During the dark, dreary months of winter, the lack of sun can mean your toddler isn’t getting enough vitamin D, which is made when sunlight hits the skin. It’s needed not only for the absorption of calcium for healthy bones and teeth in your baby, but also a healthy immune system.
The NHS recommends that all babies and young children aged six months to five years (whatever the time of year) should take a daily supplement containing 7-8.5 micrograms of vitamin D.
Formula-fed babies don’t need vitamin drops until they’re receiving less than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, as these products are fortified with vitamin D.
Try Vitabiotics Wellkid Baby Drops (£5.45, vitabiotics.com).
Try the new wonder berry
While boosting your toddler’s immune system with plenty of fruit and vegetables is a great start, you can give it a helping hand with black elderberries.
They have twice the natural antioxidant capacity of blueberries and more than 50% the overall antioxidant capability of cranberries. Antioxidants help strengthen the immune system.
Try Sambucol for Kids, a black elderberry extract syrup which is suitable for children aged 1-12 years old (£8.99, Holland & Barrett).