Here’s how the conversation went…
Me: Doctor, is it normal for my daughter to be ill every other week? From coughs, to colds, to sickness?
Doctor: Yes this is absolutely normal for a toddler.
Me: But she is ill every other week?
Doctor: Yes, she’s building her immune system.
Me: She eats plenty of vegetables and fruit, is there anything else I can do?
Doctor: Babies get ill…
I walked out of her surgery feeling a mixture of relief (my little girl is normal) but also confusion and disappointment. There must be something I can do to stop her from getting ill so often! In the last six months Freya has had three sickness bugs, two ear infections, several tickly coughs, and her little nose runs more often than it doesn’t. Last weekend we had a family holiday to Plymouth and the poor little lamb spent the whole time clutching her sore ear, with a temperature. After one sleepless night too many, I decided to go back to the doctor for the 50millionth time and get this situation sorted out once and for all. But it turns out there isn’t a situation, this is normal.
Now, I know we can’t avoid germs completely. Freya has a habit of kissing her little playmates, and their germs, and I don’t really want that to change. But I have been looking up some ways to boost her immune system. I found lots of information on this website. So here are some top tips I’m going to try for Freya.
- Her diet: Carrots and squash contain caretonoids which boost the body’s production of white blood cells and fight infection. Broccoli, green beans, blueberries, oranges and strawberries all have vitamin c and antioxidants to help the immune system work effectively. Fish contains Omega 3 which also aids the immune system. Swap white bread and pasta for wholegrains. (Freya refuses to eat broccoli and carrot so I’m going to blend them and sneak them into meals like Bolognese, shepherd’s pie and fish cakes).
- Keep her hydrated – drinking plenty of water helps avoid constipation, which can have a negative affect the immune system.
- Plenty of sleep – A lack of sleep can affect the immune system, so I’m going to make sure her routine continues to include a long lunch time nap, and strict 7pm bedtime.
- Multi-vitamins – there are supplements designed for children between the ages of 1-5. My local pharmacy advised trying Abidec multivitamin syrup with Omega 3, and eight essential vitamins. (Although Freya is yet to take to the fruity lemon flavour).
- Buy a pet – did you know research suggests that children with pets have stronger immune systems?! (This one’s a bit extreme…but we have Prince the cat living downstairs so perhaps we’ll borrow him)
- Sunshine: A healthy dose of sunshine will help your toddler create vitamin D which will boost her immune system. Here’s a link to NHS research