Daycare Germs and Infant Illness: Boosting Your Baby’s Immune System

30 October 2019
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The season of sickness is upon us. This rings especially true for infants, toddlers, and young children in daycare. 

Daycare germs are real. They have been researched and explained away as evil necessities of childhood. If anything, most parents joke about the fact that their children spend more days sick than healthy while in their first few years of daycare. They then try to explain their theories with the myth of, “getting sick now builds a baby’s immune system to be healthier later!” (While this sounds ok, it is completely untrue due to the lack of developed immune systems, over vaccinating, unhealthy diets, over sterile environments, etc.)

Yes, an infant in daycare is going to get sick more often than one who is with his mother throughout the day. Breastmilk builds antibodies to the environment around the mother. This helps protect the baby from getting sick, and is known as ‘Nature’s Vaccines’ by those who like to label everything. But, we live in a world that takes significant funds to navigate through, and mothers find themselves in a position that returning to work is a necessity. With our deplorable maternity leave ‘benefits’ in the United States, most working mothers end up enrolling their newborns (yes, newborns) into daycare between 6-12 weeks of age. While this is less than ideal, it happens every day. 

Returning to work is stressful enough, but add into that the alarming statistic rates of infant illnesses related to daycare attendance, and it leaves a mother in a panic. Your baby’s first cough, stuffy nose, cold, or fever is never a fun experience, and when in daycare, it typically means that the flood gates are just opening.

How to Prevent or Limit Daycare Germs

First and foremost, breastfeed. Send breastmilk and educate your daycare provider on the importance of pace feeding. Your milk is the single most important thing that keeps your baby healthy. Keep yourself healthy and boost your own immune system to pass on all the positive nutrients to your baby while you are separated.

Give Probiotics. There are high-quality infant probiotics that you can give your baby daily to help his gut keep healthy bacteria present.

Vitamin D3 is a necessity. A drop or 2 every day can help boost your baby’s (still developing) immune system.

If you are nursing, you can help by taking Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Omega 3 Fatty Acid, and Probiotics regularly! This of course should be paired with a whole foods diet full of leafy greens, garlic, ginger, fruits, vegetables -as organic as you can manage. Include plenty of exercise, too.

Please start your baby with regular chiropractic care. A chiropractor contributes to the overall health and wellness of your little one.

If your little one is starting to sit independently and showing an interest in eating food, continue to breastfeed as often as possible, but feel free to also boost their immune system through healthy foods. If your child is beyond the breastfeeding years, definitely start working on his immune system.

10 Ways to Boost the Immune System

 

  1. Supplements: Can be taken preventatively to boost the immune system or as treatment if you are sick.
  • Vitamin D3 – Vitamin D rapidly destroys the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, including the influenza virus.  Getting as much sunshine on your skin will also boost the immune system! Send those babies outside to play.
  • Elderberry – In 2000, a study was done on the effectiveness of elderberry during a flu epidemic in Panama. In a placebo controlled double blind study of influenza B, a complete cure was achieved within 2 – 3 days in nearly 90% of the elderberry-treated group compared with at least 6 days in the placebo group. Elderberry is very high in antioxidants and is a good source of potassium, vitamins A, B and C and nutrients like, amino acids, carotenoids, tannin and rutin. Anthocyanins, one of the most powerful antioxidants known to man, are found in these remarkable berries in far higher quantities than either Vitamin C or E alone. This accounts for the excellent health benefits of elderberry.  You can find elderberry in liquid form and even make your own gummy versions at home!
  • Echinacea– This natural herb will enhance the immune system. Medical research has shown it to be safe and effective in decreasing the frequency, duration, and severity of common illnesses such as ear and sinus infections, colds, and the flu. Echinacea comes in adult tablets and liquid, as well as children’s chewables and drops. Numerous clinical trials have been carried out on Echinacea preparations: it appears that the extracts shorten the duration and severity of colds and other upper respiratory infections (URIs) when given as soon as symptoms become evident.
  • Vitamin C– This simple vitamin can fight off invading germs. Younger kids up to age 6 will benefit from around 250 mg per day. Older kids and adults can take 500 mg per day. Available as a powder, chewable, or capsule. You can get enough Vitamin C through a good diet, but if your diet is not quite where you would like it to be, supplementing will help.
  • Fruits and vegetable supplement– The immune-boosting properties of nature’s food is remarkable. If your kids won’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, taking a “raw foods multivitamin” will help.
  • Zinc– Zinc is an important nutrient required by the body for proper growth, better immune, nervous and reproductive systems. Unfortunately, the body cannot produce this nutrient on its own and hence it needs to make up for it through a proper diet.
  • Probiotics– Probiotics help to regulate the immune system by balancing the good bacteria (flora) in the tummy. These “good” microorganisms potentially reduce the risk of diarrhea and respiratory infections. Strengthen your child’s immune system by serving live-cultured products like organic yogurt or by adding a probiotic supplement to their water or applesauce. Be sure the probiotic is organic high quality. The best species of probiotics are lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. Available as liquid, powder, and capsules, children and adults can take as directed.

2. Nutrition/Diet: A healthy immune system begins with a healthy diet. Processed foods are full of chemicals, and toxins that weaken our ability to fight illness and stay healthy.  Skip anything that comes in a box (or a bag typically) and stick with whole foods.  Yes, this means you will be preparing and cooking more, BUT grab a crockpot and let it do the work for you.  Most foods that boost the immune system are those that are good sources of one or two particular vitamins, minerals or nutrients, so eat a diversity of foods. For the immune system to function properly and be able to defend your body against pathogens, it is very important to supply the body with a sufficient amount of all vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids. Immune health and proper immune response cannot be obtained without all these essentials.

Foods to Include:  (Superfoods list)

  • Tumeric: a powerful anti-inflammatory, new studies show that turmeric also lowers fevers.
  • Garlic: It’s antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal. Garlic has some serious infection-fighting capabilities.
  • Bone Broth: Homemade can’t be beat. A cure-all in traditional households, bone broth or stock can be made from chicken, fish, or beef bones.  It builds strong bones, soothes sore throats and nourishes the sick.
  • Almonds: Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts (especially almonds) are packed with vitamin E. A half-cup serving provides nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily amount.
  • Citrus: Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C and with such a variety to choose from it’s easy to add a squeeze of C to any meal.
  • Red Bell Peppers: red bell peppers have twice as much vitamin C as citrus, as well as being a rich source of beta-carotene.
  • Broccoli is super-charged with an arsenal of vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as numerous antioxidants, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table.
  • Ginger: helps prevent a cold from taking hold of you
  • Spinach: full of antioxidants
  • Yogurt, kefir: Probiotic-packed foods!
  • Mushrooms: Numerous medical studies have shown that beta glucans (found in mushrooms) can positively modulate and strengthen the immune system and prevent infections.

3. Lose the Sugar: If you do only one thing to boost your immune system, eliminating sugar will do the most good.  Refined sugar is a poison which, among other things, dramatically decreases immune function.

4. Herbs and Salts: Epsom Baths, salves, teas, steams, tinctures have all been found to have immune boosting qualities!  You can make your own, or purchase high quality versions to use at home on yourself or your little one.  Mixing magnesium flakes and Epsom salts with a few drops of essential oil will give you boost.  Same with a steam shower with a few oil drops.  Doing these things weekly will keep your body cleansed and ready to ward off illness.

5. Massage: Just what you have wanted to hear! A massage session calms you down, eases your anxieties, and even helps you sleep at night. A study by the government’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine finds that those sessions help you ward off illnesses, too.

6. Exercise: Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other airborne illness. It causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells, which circulate more rapidly and detect illnesses earlier. The brief rise in body temperature while exercising may prevent bacteria from growing and fight off any existing infections more effectively.

7. Essential Oils: While it is not shown safe to ingest any essential oils, you may diffuse them, use them in salves, rubs, baths, etc. There are “hot” oils that should not be used on children, so make sure you know what you are purchasing and how you are using it.

8. Sleep: If your child is 12 and under and gets less than 10 hours of sleep per night, or if your tween or teen is getting less than eight and a half hours— they ’re prime candidates for a weaker immune system. Make sleep a priority in your home.

9. Fresh Air, Germs, and Play: Yes, you read right – GERMS. Not all germs and bacteria are bad for you! Some exposure to germs can help build a child’s immunity and protect them from illness. As homes become cleaner and more sterile, the immune system doesn’t have to work as hard to defend the body against common bacterial infections—and this may have led to an unintended consequence: allergies. A theory, the “hygiene hypothesis,” developed by immunology experts, states underexposure to germs and bacteria are decreasing the body’s ability to fight allergies and asthma later in life. Allow your kids to be kids, get dirty outside and play with friends—and don’t worry incessantly about germs.

10. Skip The Chemical-Filled Products: Anything you put on the skin is absorbed into the body, either helping or hurting yourself or your child.  From toothpaste to shampoo, read your labels or make your own products.

 

Sources:

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/family-nutrition/foods-to-boost-immunity/boost-your-childs-immune-system http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78 https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/ https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/#h3 http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/childhood-illnesses/echinacea http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15035888 http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/the-many-different-kinds-of-sugar https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007165.htm http://theholisticmama.com/take-this-herb-daily-to-boost-immunity/