Babies are fragile, sensitive, and prone to various diseases. Some common diseases in babies are common cold, pinkeye, fevers, respiratory diseases, etc. This is why babies are vaccinated at a very young age.
However, vaccines are not enough. The immune systems of babies are at a growing stage, and they can be strengthened with proper nutrition. You can naturally do it by feeding them rich, healthy, and nutritious food. The diet can differ, depending on your baby’s age, but the base nutrients are almost the same. The essential nutrients can help with both physical and mental development.
This article will discuss the most important nutrients for your baby and some immunity-boosting foods that are readily available.
Necessary Nutrients for Babies
Here is a list of nutrients necessary for all babies, aging from- 1 month to 5 years old.
Proteins are made of amino acids, known as the building blocks of your body. They are essential for a baby’s growth. They help form and create messenger RNAs to alert the body when it is affected by a disease.
Without RNA, the immune system cannot protect a baby from sickness. Lack of protein can prevent bodily growth and create a weak immune system. Protein is crucial for infants who can only consume liquids. Therefore, it is best to provide infants under the age of 12 with baby formulas. You can check out these baby formula reviews to pick the right one for your baby.
Vitamins are micronutrients necessary for the body cells to function properly. There are different types of vitamins, and each of them has a separate benefit. The common vitamins are Vitamin A, B complex, C, D, E, and K.
Vitamin A works as an antioxidant and helps develop the immune system. Vitamin B6 and B12 help strengthen red blood cells and prevent anemia in babies. They also help in forming immune system cells (lymphocytes, monocytes, neutrophils).
Vitamin C and E also help in developing the immune system. Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the body. They form collagen which helps repair the body after any disease.
But vitamin overdose can also be a big problem. Vitamin overdose can lead to hypervitaminosis and cause a toxic reaction in the body. On the other hand, lack of vitamins can cause anemia, scurvy, rickets, and many other diseases.
Fortified milk can be an excellent source of vitamin A. Seafood and eggs have vitamin B and D. Citrus fruits like orange, tangerine, and tomatoes are packed with vitamin C, and leafy green vegetables contain vitamin K.
Zinc is taken mostly after recovering from a disease. The immune system becomes very weak after a disease. This is even more serious for babies.
Their body is not developed enough to restore the damaged immune system. Zinc increases the production of antibodies and antigens to help the immune system regenerate faster. Zinc deficiency causes diarrhea, behavioral changes, and neurologic disturbances.
Cereal products, bread, milk, and cheese are excellent sources of zinc for babies.
4. Essential Fat
Essential fats or essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 have anti-inflammatory properties. These nutrients influence the performance of white blood cells, the primary defense system of the human body. They do so by absorbing nutrients that directly impact the immune system.
Boosting the performance of white blood cells will help the baby remain healthy. Essential fatty acids prevent inflammation in body tissues. This makes sure the baby’s body is growing properly without any deformity.
Babies are the common victim of essential fatty acid deficiency. Not eating foods with essential fatty acids could lead to intellectual disability in children.
Try feeding your baby nut butter, yogurt, and whole milk for their required fats.
Manganese is very helpful for protecting a child from any heart disease. Some common ones include rheumatic heart disease and Kawasaki disease. Manganese helps develop the immune system to prevent heart diseases. Lack of manganese can also lead to poor bone growth.
Oatmeal and bran cereals, acai, pineapple, and whole wheat bread contain a good amount of manganese.
Calcium is a vital part of bone growth. Bone health plays an important role in the immune system. White blood cells are created from bone marrow. So if a baby has strong and healthy bones, their immune system will automatically be stronger.
Apart from stronger bones, calcium also helps improve muscles and prevent muscle spasms and seizures. Low calcium levels in a baby can lead to fragile bones and a weak immune system. Red blood cells are also produced from bone marrow. So lack of calcium could also result in anemia.
Dairy foods such as milk and cheese, green leafy vegetables, and bread made of fortified flour are rich in calcium.
Iron transports oxygen through blood vessels to different parts of the body. By providing oxygen to all the cells, it ensures that the red blood cells in your body stay alive and active.
Otherwise, a baby may suffer from anemia. Keeping the cells alive and active can drastically boost your immune system. Lack of iron can cause a baby to have pale skin, lack of energy, and increased heartbeat rate.
Beans and legumes, chicken, turkey, and iron-fortified cereals are readily available iron sources.
Common Immunity-Boosting Foods for Babies
For most babies, you will not need any expensive and super fancy meals to strengthen their immune system. Here are some common yet effective foods that do a great job in keeping your baby healthy.
Yogurt is healthy no matter what your age. Yogurts full of whole-fat are even better. It contains many vital nutrients that a baby needs for a stronger immune system.
It contains good bacteria that help fend off harmful bacteria in a baby’s stomach. If you feed antibiotics to a baby, they feel weak and drowsy, but feeding them yogurt can help them remain active.
Yogurt is also a very good source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for regulating the amount of calcium in a baby’s body.
This makes sure that the bones are developing properly and releasing enough red and white blood cells to keep the immune system strong. They also contain a good amount of protein, which is basically the essential part of a child’s growth. Protein helps repair all damaged cells, such as white blood cells, and strengthens the immune system.
Avocados are one of the healthiest fruits out there. They are a very good source of Vitamin B6 and B12, which help form the basic immune system cells.
They also contain a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Since they are good at absorbing nutrients, feeding babies avocados with other nutrients will ensure that the nutrients are being absorbed by the cells.
This way, the baby’s body will fight many diseases, and even if they fall sick, they will recover faster. Babies older than the age of 2 can directly eat the fruit. If the baby is younger, mashing the fruit and feeding them the mashed avocado will do just fine.
Berries such as blueberries, cherries, strawberries, cranberries are rich in antioxidants. They help the body fight various oxidative effects. Oxidative substances numb your immune system.
A baby’s immune system will not fight diseases adequately if it suffers from oxidative effects. So eating berries can improve a child’s immune system by keeping it responsive.
It is very common to see children avoiding vegetables. But if you can create a habit of eating vegetables in a baby, you can help them have a strong and resilient immune system. This is because vegetables are much healthier and richer in nutrients than other food sources.
One such nutritious powerhouse is broccoli. It contains most of the immune-boosting vitamins, such as Vitamin A, C, and E. Broccoli also contains a good amount of minerals, such as calcium, iron, and phosphorus. Additionally, broccoli has antioxidants.
5. Whole Grain Foods
Whole-grain foods are rich in vitamins. Foods such as brown rice, barley, wheat, millet, oatmeal are all classified as whole grain foods. There are also processed whole grain foods such as cereals that contain additional minerals including iron, calcium, and phosphorus, and sulfur.
They also contain a good amount of protein and carbohydrates that improve the growth of the baby and keep them energetic.
6. Breast Milk
All the foods listed above are mostly for toddlers, who can chew and bite their food. But infants also need these nutrients. The most important food for them is their mother’s breast milk.
Breast milk contains most of the ingredients that ensure proper growth. It is rich in calcium, protein, carbohydrate, potassium, sodium, and vitamins. They are also present in the perfect amount. So, infants should be fed breast milk until they are at least 12 months old. Babies older than that can usually eat solid food with relative ease, but you can ask your doctor just to be safe.
Sometimes, babies may need additional iron supplements if they lack iron in their blood because breast milk does not contain any iron.
The right diet can boost your immune system and help you fight against various diseases. This is essential for babies. Babies without a balanced diet and the right amount of nutrition can suffer from malnutrition and various diseases. So, make sure you provide all the necessary nutrients to your baby.