Steps to Boost a Toddlers Immunity

Every parent dreads the cold and flu season and will do everything required to support their child's developing immune system. My son has had a fair share of viral infections and while I know it's okay for him to fall ill a couple of times, I get extremely sad to see him with a runny nose or high temperature. While minor illnesses like the cold and flu actually helps to strengthen and develop a child's immune system, it's important to focus on several factors that can boost immunity so that a child will fall sick less. 
As a Mom, 'Immunity' is quite possibly the most important word for me as I have learnt ways to develop and strengthen my son's immune system. 
1. A healthy diet: the most challenging and yet the most important, achieving this has not been completely impossible. Getting my son to eat fruits and vegetables everyday is something we are still working on but starting early has made this slightly easier. Green leafy vegetables, pulses like dal, citrus fruits, nuts and curd are common foods that help boost the immune system. Dal, curd, fruit juices and some root vegetables like potato and carrot were a common part of my son's everyday diet from six months. As he learnt to appreciate the taste, I used these favorite foods to disguise other foods that he was not particularly interested in. 
  • Dal was combined with spinach or radish, curd turned into interesting yogurt smoothies, walnuts were added to his evening snack and carrots, cucumber, apple or pear became finger foods that fascinated him. 
  • Initially, I wasn't too keen on his demand for yogurt everyday but I learnt its benefits from our pediatrician. Yogurt contains 'good bacteria' or Probiotics which strengthens the immune system by fighting against several microorganisms. 
  • Additionally, I always add a pinch of Turmeric to all curries and vegetable preparations as it is known to have antimicrobial properties known to fight diseases.

2. The sunshine vitamin: vitamin D is known to boost immunity and while getting this outdoors is the best, it's not always possible. Every morning after breakfast, my son spends a couple of minutes playing in the sunniest part of our balcony to soak up the benefits of this vitamin. As I supervise him, I get to enjoy a cup of tea and watch his excitement as he tries to catch the sun's rays and evade his shadow. On other days, a walk in the park, some running around or a walk around the neighbourhood ensures that my son gets an adequate amount of fresh air.
3. Exposure to germs: while it's vital to teach hand hygiene and the importance of washing hands before food, after using the washroom, after playing etc. A certain amount of exposure to germs helps the immune system learn how to defend itself and builds resistance to infections. Finding the right balance is the key here because as parents we should certainly be careful but also practical - Is there a need to sanitise everything that your child comes in contact with?
4. Preventing allergies with Vitamin C: as a kid, my parents included a vitamin C supplement everyday and I never realised why until I found out how vitamin C helps to prevent allergies and builds the immune system. I have never given my son supplements but I try to ensure he has a sufficient supply in the form of juices as he's not particularly fond of citrus fruits. An important tip: ensure your child gets a good amount of vitamin C before and after a birthday party or big event. It prevents the onset of any infection that your child is likely to have because of excess of sugar or unfamiliar foods.
Viruses and infections are a common and yet difficult part of our child's growing years. A few smart steps and healthy habits can certainly boost your child's immune system as they grow. As parents, we are the only ones who know what's best and okay for our children. I hope these suggestions are as helpful to you as they have been to me and the process of strengthening my son's immune system.