#FridayFAQs | Children Falling Sick often : Making Immunity the Priority


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Question : My son has started getting sick a lot since starting Pre-School. Can I do anything to prevent this?

Our Answer : The average child can get up to eight colds per year in his/her first two years. When your child starts playschool, it makes him more susceptible to the common cold. Those first few months are generally the roughest because he wouldn’t have been exposed to a huge amount of germs before that.

The reason why your toddler catches so many colds in his early years, and in particular when he starts playschool, is because of his immature immune system. Once this develops, it genuinely improves, and if your toddler was breastfed as a baby he should have a relatively good immune system.

Apart from keeping your child at home in a vacuum, there’s nothing really that you can do to protect him from catching a cold. Kids do pass infections to each other easily in a group setting particularly during the winter months. We at Eden Castle Preschool & Early Years have a well established and well-enforced policy of not allowing sick children to attend regular preschool sessions.

Guidelines at the Eden Castle Preschool

Our premises being non – centrally air conditioned, and the controlled number of children per program has been set in place keeping all of these factors in mind. An established, rigorous practise in community hygiene where both Caregivers and Edenites wash hands in-between activities— before eating — throughout the day is also a great deterrent in protecting our children from infections.

Easy Tips for Parents

As a parent, you too can also take easy steps to keep your child’s immune system as strong as possible, to help him fight off infection. Here are some excellent tips;

1. Serve more fruits and vegetables

Carrots, green beans, oranges, strawberries: They all contain such immunity-boosting phytonutrients as vitamin C and carotenoids.Phytonutrients increases the body’s production of infection-fighting white blood cells and interferon, an antibody that coats cell surfaces, blocking out viruses. Studies show that a diet rich in phytonutrients can also protect against such chronic diseases as cancer and heart disease in adulthood. Try to get your child to eat five servings of fruits and veggies a day. (A serving is about two tablespoons for toddlers, 1 and cup for older kids.). It is a great practice to keep your children well hydrated. So ensure they take lots of fluids. A smart thing to do would be to give them freshly squeezed organic orange juice daily.

2. Boost sleep time

Sleep deprivation can make you more susceptible to illness by reducing natural killer cells, immune-system weapons that attack microbes and cancer cells. The same holds true for children. Children in day care are particularly at risk for sleep deprivation because all the activity can make it difficult for them to nap. How much sleep do kids need? A newborn may need up to 18 hours of crib time a day, toddlers require 12 to 13 hours, and preschoolers need about 10 hours. If you think your child is hyper active and refusing to sleep, try making the environment favriable for a sound sleep. Draw your curtains, reduce noise, and playing light music and relax and soothe children, helping them to sleep better.

3. Breast-feed your baby

Breast milk contains turbo-charged immunity-enhancing antibodies and white blood cells. Nursing guards against ear infections, allergies, diarrhea, pneumonia, meningitis, urinary-tract infections, and sudden infant death syndrome. Studies show that it may also enhance your baby’s brain power and help protect her against insulin-dependent diabetes, Crohn’s disease, colitis, and certain forms of cancer later in life. Colostrum, the thin yellow “premilk” that flows from the breasts during the first few days after birth, is especially rich in disease-fighting antibodies.

4. Exercise as a family

Exercise increases the number of natural killer cells in adults and children. To get your children into a lifelong fitness habit, be a good role model. Exercise with them rather than just urge them to go outside and play.

5. Guard against germ spread

Fighting germs doesn’t technically boost immunity, but it’s a great way to reduce stress on your child’s immune system. Make sure you and your kids wash hands often and with soap. You should pay particular attention to their hygiene before and after each meal and after playing outside, handling pets, blowing their nose, using the bathroom, and arriving home from day care. When you’re out, carry disposable wipes with you for quick cleanups.

Another key germ-busting strategy:

If your child does get sick, throw out her toothbrush right away. A child can’t catch the same cold or flu virus twice, but the virus can hop from toothbrush to toothbrush, infecting other family members. If it’s a bacterial infection, such as strep throat, however, your child can reinfect herself with the same germs that got her sick in the first place. In that case, tossing the toothbrush protects both your child and the rest of your family.

6. Banish secondhand smoke.

If you or your spouse smokes, quit. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 toxins, most of which can irritate or kill cells in the body. Kids are more susceptible than adults to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke because they breathe at a faster rate; a child’s natural detoxification system is also less developed. Secondhand smoke increases a child’s risk of SIDS, bronchitis, ear infections, and asthma. It may also affect intelligence and neurological development.

7. Don’t pressure your paediatrician

Urging your paediatrician to write a prescription for an antibiotic whenever your child has a cold, flu, or sore throat is a bad idea. Antibiotics treat only illnesses caused by bacteria,but the majority of childhood illnesses are caused by viruses.Also remember, it is best for children’s system to build its own immunity rather than depend on antibiotics all the time, which will deplete their immunity and make them more susceptible to diseases in the future.

In case your child is a fussy eater, putting him on a vitamins supplement if he’s a fussy eater can sometimes help but do consult a paediatrician before you administer any supplements. Most importantly, ensure that your child gets all the recommended immunisations on the appropriate schedule to help prevent serious infections.

Happy Parenting.

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