We are better than halfway through the cold and flu season – Phew! However, some parents might still be wondering how to keep their little ones safe from more infections. Many colds and coughs are one of the hallmarks of childhood. Exercising the immune system is part of nature’s design. However, daycares and schools are exceptionally well suited for increasing the number of exposures a child has to deal with and, thus, risk immune system exhaustion. Here’s how to keep your child’s immune system strong:
Breastfeeding – for as long as possible. Exclusive breast-feeding during the first months after birth is associated with a reduced risk for many acute and chronic infections early in life as well as lower asthma rates during childhood. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding up to 2 years of age.
Probiotics – Probiotics play an integral role in the immune system – a large part of which takes place in the gastrointestinal tract. High quality probiotics are available from your Naturopathic Doctor or the refrigerated section of your natural health food store. During the cold and flu season, I always recommend 11-12 billion CFU daily of a combination of human-sourced Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis, along with fructooligosaccharides – a prebiotic. Powder form can easily be added daily to your infant or toddler’s milk of choice.
Vitamin D – Low vitamin D scores have been proven to hamper anti-viral immunity. Multiple studies have found that 2000 IU daily of Vitamin D is both safe and optimal for infants and toddlers. Again, I recommend liquid form added to your little one’s milk of choice.
What to do if your little one is afflicted with the cold:
Humidifier: Humid air is a great natural decongestant during the overnight hours. Cool mist humidifiers moisten dry winter air in Kelowna. Breathing this in works to soothe wheezy coughs, clears your child’s nasal passages, and loosens mucus in his/her lungs. Running a humidifier in your child’s room overnight may help your sick baby finally get some much-needed rest.
Diet: Avoid mucous producing foods during illness – this includes dairy, bananas and oranges.
1. Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia or purpurea): I prefer the glycerite form of this herb for children. I like to use the Echinacea angustifolia roots, as these are preferred for stimulating the immune response in viral illnesses. The dose I use is 1 drop for every 2 lbs. of body weight every 2 hours or 4X/Day until the symptoms have cleared.
2. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): The classic children’s herb. A hot infusion of Chamomile helps to clear congestion and coughs, reduces fever and helps to relax the child so they can sleep. It’s bitter properties also help to restimulate the appetite when the cold symptoms have subsided.
Homeopathy: Is safe and effective in children. Which ones to use often depends upon your child’s symptoms, but there are general cold and flu homeopathics in the health food store. OSCILLOCOCCINUM for children is a good choice.