As your inquisitive toddler explores his world, he will come into contact with bacteria and germs. Fret not, mommy! Exposure to antigens, or foreign substances, elicits an immune response that help his immune system stay strong. Find out what else you can do to build his foundation for good health.
HEALTH CARE PRACTICES
Keep up with vaccinations. Your doctor will keep track of any shots your child receives during visits and recommend changes to the schedule if necessary.
Consider annual flu shots. At this age, your child can get an annual flu shot, before the start of flu season.
Don't ask the doctor for antibiotics to treat a cold. The common cold is caused by a virus, so although antibiotics are commonly prescribed, they aren't actually helpful. It's best to reserve their use for when your child really needs them for effectiveness.
GERMS AND HYGIENE
Teach basic hand washing. A step stool helps your child to reach the sink. Show him how to build-up a lather and wash his hands properly through the back, palms and between his fingers. Teach him the exact time it takes by singing "Happy Birthday" twice as he washes. Train a habit of washing hands before meals and snacks, and after playing outside.
Keep fingers out of the nose. Toddlers love to pick their noses, suck on their fingers and put things into their mouth. Teach your child hygiene early by discouraging such habits when you see them. Keep disinfecting wet wipes handy.
SLEEP AND AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE
Encourage napping. Sleep is one of the best ways to keep his immune system running efficiently. Toddlers need 12 to 14 hours of sleep every day.
Stay active every day. Running, jumping, and other active play gets the heart pumping and the blood circulating, and strengthens the immune system. Keeping active also lowers your child's risk of becoming overweight, which can affect the immune function.
HELP YOUR LITTLE ONE BUILD STRONG FOUNDATION FOR GOOD HEALTH
Choose nutritious foods. A well-balanced diet is itself one of the immune system's best friends, fortifying your toddler's body. Nutrients like protein (found in lean meat and fish), vitamin A (in red or orange vegetables and eggs), vitamin C (in citrus and strawberries), vitamin E (in fortified cereals, safflower oil and peanut butter), zinc (in lean meat, seafood, whole grains, and beans) and, iron and selenium.
Say yes to yogurt. The live cultures in yogurt, helps support immune health. Look on the label for the words "live and active cultures," or the names of live cultures, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Bifidobacterium bifidum (or Bifidus).
Pay attention to the paediatrician's concerns about your child's weight. Overweight or obese toddlers are at greater risk for reduced immune function. Curb potentially harmful habits now, such as drinking too much juice or eating high fat snacks. It will help prevent weight problems later in life.
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