Is A Newborn Baby’s Immune System Strong Enough?
After birth, as newborn babies come into contact with the external world, they gradually get exposed to micro-organisms from their surroundings. As babies are born with an immature immune system, this exposure to environmental micro-organisms may make them prone to infections and illnesses.
Immunity or immune system, in simple words, is a body’s defense against various infections and diseases, and consists of a network of cells, healthy gut and immunoglobulins (type of proteins) that work together to protect the body and reduce the chances of sickness.
A child's immunity starts developing after birth and keeps developing throughout adulthood. However, the first maturation of immune cells is seen to being when the baby is 1y of age. Hence, the first year of a child’s life is crucial and necessary actions are needed to help boost immunity.
A healthy immune system can fight illness more efficiently by creating antibodies naturally, thereby decreasing need for usage of antibiotics.
Ways to Boost Immunity in Infants
- Skin To Skin Contact Through skin to skin contact between mother and child, the baby is exposed to microorganisms that help the baby to develop immunity.
- Proper Sleep Time A proper sleep routine is essential for building immunity. Lack of sleep can reduce immune cells that help to kill harmful bacteria, making the infant's body prone to diseases.
- Fiber and Nutrient-Rich Foods Once infants start on solid foods, it is advisable to give fruits and vegetables which are rich in fiber and contains nutrients that help boost immunity.
- Breastfeeding Breast milk is the best source nutrition for the baby. It provides all proteins, fats, and antibodies required for building the baby's immunity. Breast milk also contains oligosaccharides which have prebiotic effect. These are non-digestible fibers which pass through the stomach and small intestine undigested and stimulates the growth of beneficial/good bacteria and decreases bad bacteria in the infant gut, thus helps build a strong immune system.
Why Prebiotic Oligosaccharides Are Important for Baby’s Developing Immunity
A healthy immune system is highly dependent on a healthy gut. The gut is believed to be the largest immune organ of the body as it houses 70%-80% of body’s immune cells.
A healthy gut needs prebiotics, as they serve as food for the good bacteria which stimulates their growth and activity. As the good bacteria increase in number and get active, they help reduce the bad or disease-causing bacteria in the gut which helps reduce episodes of diarrhea, allergies, infections etc. in babies.
To boost immunity, it is essential to lay the foundation of a healthy gut. An easy way of achieving this would be with the help of prebiotics, especially in the first year of the baby’s life.
- Foods rich in Prebiotics Breast milk oligosaccharides are the best source of prebiotics. In case breast-feeding is not possible then it is advisable to ask your doctor for other sources of prebiotics for your baby. Once babies start eating solids, they can be given prebiotic rich foods such as oats, bananas, asparagus, etc.
A healthy gut and immune system make the basis of a healthy life. A proper boost to a developing immune system in the early life of a child helps them fight illnesses throughout their lives.