Feeding Your Toddler to Support Their Immune System
You can’t help worrying whenever your toddler’s caught the cold. In fact, childcare centres would send the kids home if too many are sick! To help junior put up a fight against viruses, find out how you can help power up his immune system!
Strengthening Your Toddler’s Immune System
Are you a germaphobe who is obsessed with keeping germs at bay? The good news is, exposure to germs helps your toddler’s immune system practice battling bacteria and viruses, and build resistance to infection. As a result, your toddler’s immune system is continually changing, adapting and strengthening.
Besides these external factors, you can help build up your child’s immunity and long-term health by introducing a wide range of nutrient-rich foods, as well as good sources of prebiotics. Here are some essential nutrients and vitamins:
Prebiotic Oligosaccharides (Prebiotics)
Prebiotics encourage the growth of the good bacteria in your toddler’s stomach and protect him against potentially harmful bacteria. Prebiotics can be naturally found in these foods:
· Whole-wheat foods
Some milks also contain prebiotics and can complement a balanced diet!
Your growing toddler needs plenty of iron in order to form haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen around the body. Iron supports normal cognitive development for toddlers too. If your little one doesn’t take enough iron, he may be susceptible to infection.
Ensure that your child regularly consumes iron-rich foods, such as:
· Meat — especially red meat
· Liver — limit their intake to one portion per week to avoid getting too much vitamin A
· Dried fruit such as dried apricots
· Wholegrains such as brown rice
· Fortified growing-up milks
· Fortified breakfast cereals
· Soya bean flour
· Dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and curly kale
Zinc is a mineral that helps create new cells and the enzymes needed to support the normal development of your toddler’s immune system. It also helps to heal wounds.
Since the body doesn’t store zinc, it’s important to include good sources in your child’s diet each day1! Foods containing zinc include:
· Cereal products
This sunshine vitamin is especially important for your toddler’s growth and defence against infections! Vitamin D is also linked to the prevention of allergies.
The most effective way of getting Vitamin D is by being in the sun. The body naturally produces Vitamin D under ultraviolet-B rays. Alternatively, consider the following sources of Vitamin D:
· Oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel
· Aptamil Growing Up milk
· Fortified margarine
· Fortified breakfast cereals (check the label)
Check with your healthcare professional to find out if a supplement is required!
Besides helping your toddler fight infection, Vitamin C helps protect cells and keeps your toddler healthy. In addition, Vitamin C aids the healing process and increases the body’s ability to absorb iron.
Vitamin C-rich foods include:
· Peppers (capsicum)
· Brussels sprouts
· Sweet potatoes
· Kiwi fruit
Vitamin A supports your toddler’s immune system by helping with the generation of antibody responses and the function of immune cells.
Your toddler can get Vitamin A from:
· Liver (spread)
· Fortified low-fat spreads
· Dark green and orange vegetables and fruit — these contain beta-carotene, a substance that the body can convert into vitamin A. Good sources of beta-carotene include carrots, sweet potatoes, swede, mango, spinach, dark green cabbage and kale.
What Should I Do?
Can’t wait to whip up your toddler’s next meal? Support his immune system with these healthy meals and snacks!
· Spaghetti bolognese — served with wholegrain pasta
· Tuna and cheese melts on wholemeal toast
· Scrambled eggs with grilled, sliced tomatoes and avocado
· A baked sweet potato with mashed sardines and sweetcorn
· Natural yogurt with fresh blueberries and chopped banana
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Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.