Are you sick of running noses? Recurrent flu? Constant coughs? And most importantly the sleepless nights?
It’s said that first five years of a child’s health are extremely important.
When my son was 11 months old, he got his first flu- 102 fever, bad cough, runny nose, loss of appetite and sleepless nights which seemed like an eternity. It took him close to ten days to get better and be back to his running around self. Two months later, he was unwell again – 102 fever, cough, terrible chest congestion and sleepless nights.
Though each time your child gets sick doesn’t simply mean you didn’t give him a diet healthy enough. It’s a way of life but falling sick after every 2 months surely needed a little change in the diet for immunity boosting. I did a lot of research- read books, searched the net, ate my brother in law’s head who is also a pediatrician and finally managed to make small but healthy changes in his diet.
Sharing with you tips, hacks and changes that helped in boosting my child’s immune system. It’s been close to 10 months now and my little one hasn’t fallen ill. It helps me and I hope it helps you too.
Breakfast: It is the most important meal and by breakfast, I don’t mean just cookies and a glass of milk. Make sure you are giving your child a nutritionally packed breakfast.
Breakfast usually has porridge with different grains, fruits, overnight soaked nuts (almonds, walnuts, dates, and raisins), grounded flax seeds and milk. You could make it interesting by adding new flavors: chocolate chips, cocoa powder, colorful sprinkles, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla extract.
Turmeric milk: Yes, might not sound very exciting, but it’s the best thing you could give your child before they hit the sack at night. I’ve been giving him turmeric milk since he was 11 months old. I sometimes skip it and give him normal milk for a change but when there is a change in weather, I stick to turmeric milk.
Tulsi leaves: These are known for their divine properties and are natural antibiotics given to us by nature. I add a couple of Tulsi leaves while making daal, rice, or any savory dish I make for him.
Fruits: Make sure your child is having at least 2 different fruits a day. If he/she runs away from fruits, add it in their morning porridge and in their evening milk ( make a milkshake). Avoid juices – it’s much healthier to have a fruit either directly or added to milk.
Iron: If your child is a vegetarian, you need to pay extra attention to make sure they do not suffer from iron deficiencies. It’s the most common deficiency in adults and children.
Few hacks to increase your child’s iron levels-
- Add methi leaves/spinach leaves/radish leaves in their paratha, dal or sabzi. Make spinach parantha and serve it with a vegetable. These leaves are an excellent source of iron
- Soak dates and raisins overnight and give this to your child in the morning. These are a great source of iron. If they don’t eat it like this, crush it and add it in their vegetables or make dates and raisins milk by blending them and adding interesting flavors.
- Limit milk with iron rich foods. Calcium hinders in proper absorption of iron. Before offering milk keep a gap of at least 2 hours after each meal.
- Iron alone doesn’t help. You need to include Vitamin C in your child’s diet for adequate absorption of iron
- Chickpeas/ white channa are also rich in iron. Make hummus n serve them on a whole grain bread toast as a between meal snack
Peanuts: These are a terrific source of proteins. Not just proteins, they include a significant amount of other nutrients too. Introduce your child to peanut butter. Make peanut butter milkshake, if you are baking a cake add peanut butter or simply blend roasted peanuts and make a paste. Add a tablespoon in your child’s vegetable too – it’s yummy!
Yoghurt: Add yogurt to your child’s daily diet. It’s rich in probiotics. Yogurt doesn’t always have to be served with sabzi and roti. There are a lot of interesting ways to have it. Make smoothies, add it to the breakfast menu, make fruit cream with yogurt (minus the cream). Whisk yogurt well, add honey/sugar, choco chips/drinking chocolate, vanilla extract, fruits like strawberries, mangoes etc.
Snacks: When it comes to in-between meal hunger pangs, try to give your child healthy snacks. My little one doesn’t have a sweet tooth so I usually keep roasted makhanas, puffed rice sprinkled with chat masala, home baked whole wheat crackers as immediate snacking options. Sometimes I give him a bread toast with homemade herb butter or baked sweet potato fries. Not that I am saying I don’t let him touch junk. He likes french fries, ice creams but I avoid it as much as I can. 😉
Sleep: Make sure your child is resting well. A toddler needs at least 12 hours of sleep for adequate growth. When babies sleep they produce three times the growth hormones than when they are awake.
Avoid medicines: At every sign of a cough and cold don’t rush to your pediatrician for medicines or give your child over the counter medicine. And DO NOT panic if your child gets a fever. Fever helps in fighting infection. Without fever, your child’s body isn’t that effective in fighting infections. However, do consult your doctor if your child has a fever for longer than a day. This could also mean something else but a common cough and cold will go on its own and don’t give your child antibiotics every time. Cough syrups too will not help your child. You are just adding chemicals for no real reason. Instead, resort to home remedies. Let the flu run its course. Viral infections don’t always necessarily really need medical attention every time
Washing hands: Don’t forget to wash your child’s hands every couple of hours. They crawl, run, play and then put those dirty hands in their mouth. So it becomes extremely important to keep their hands clean. Good hygiene means better immunity.
Avoid too much sugar: Too much sugar suppresses immunity. Focus on natural sugar from fruits and vegetables.
Lastly and most importantly, it is overwhelming when a little one falls ill, but just calm down. Do not feed with frustration. It’s ok if they don’t eat something when you try to feed them. Try after another hour. Maybe they are not hungry, not in the mood or just want to fool around. Kids can’t stay hungry. Whatever little they eat, just make sure you are feeding them healthy stuff.
I hope this helps you as much as it helped me.
Please do share your hacks of feeding healthy stuff to your child. It’ll be a great help to all us. Happy Parenting! 😊