The first year of kindergarten is a year that you will have to expect your child to be sick – a lot. Kindergarten is full of infections, and your family will most likely be infected too. In turn. But it gets better. For whenever we get infected, the immune system will produce more antibodies and get stronger and better at combatting diseases. Professor Arne Spurkland, one of Norway`s foremost expert on the immune system, explain the process like this in his blog:
“Newborn babies have not produced any antibodies themselves. Before they were born, they got lgG antibodies, and through breastfeeding they get the lgA antibodies – both from their mother. This protects the children the first 6 months of life, until they start to make their own antibodies”.
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When your body gets an immune reaction, some of the cells that were stimulated by the process will remain, and produce antibodies. This means that the next time your body encounters the same microbe, it already has antibodies and will start to produce more of them quickly, to stop the infection more effectively. This is also how many vaccines work, and the reason why many infections only strike us once in a lifetime.
So, it should be no goal to avoid all illness, on the contrary, children needs to be sick sometimes, to stay healthy in the future! But we agree that it would be nice if the child could avoid being sick all the time!
So what can you do to help the immune system?
1. Vitamin D
Several studies show that vitamin D helps the immune system maintain it`s normal function. The Directorate of Health recommends to give the baby fish oil from four weeks of age. This way you secure that their need for vitamin D is covered.
2. Make washing hands fun!
To avoid being infected, good hand hygiene is essential. But that might be easier said than done for impatient little creatures. The trick is to make washing hands fun. Put on the Lano-video ”Vask de henda”, and see how cool washing hands suddenly becomes! Learn the text and rap a long with your kid.
3. Five a day
The Directorate of Health recommends everyone to eat five servings of fruit and vegetables every day, because this is an easy way to increase your intake of vitamins. The A, C, D, and several B vitamins helps the immune system to function. And the more varied fruits and vegetables, the better.
4. A little dirt is good
Remember, as mentioned, that every time we get infected, the immune system will produce more antibodies, ang get better and better at combatting disease. Therefore, kids should roll in the mud, put dirty fingers in their mouths and have contact with animals as early as possbile.
Sources: Norwegian Health Informatics, forskning.no, immunglimt.no