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Good food equals good health and this couldn’t hold truer than for children. Parents of tots should start their kids on a healthy diet from a young age if they’re to be able to effectively fight illness. Include these foods that boost a toddler’s immune system in your child’s diet.
We all know that a nutritious diet is vital for good health but for children, the importance is doubled. Their immune system – which is the body’s defence system against infections and diseases – is still developing. Unless they get the nutrition they need, fighting off colds and other illnesses can be difficult.
Watch: This Is How Your Child’s Immune System Actually Works!
List of 15 Foods to Boost Immune System in Toddlers
In their growing up years, children need the right foods to ensure they build a strong immune system that will keep them protected lifelong. So, what foods boost immune system? Here are the top immunity boosting foods you should definitely incorporate in their diet.
All these foods are safe for consumption for toddlers, i.e., children above 12 months of age.
These are quite the BEST foods to boost immune system simply because they are so full of essential nutrients – from vitamins and minerals to antioxidants and omega fatty acids. Different kinds of nuts are good for varied benefits as well as varied taste, so make sure you feed your kids walnuts, pistachios, almonds, etc.
How to Feed: Nuts are best served in powder form for younger children. For older children (3+), you can serve them as is or make these simple Homemade Nut Bars. Be careful since nuts might pose a choking hazard. Also discuss with a doctor in case your child displays any signs of an allergic reaction to nuts.
Yes, the good old cheese which many kids love is also one of the immune boosting foods! It is high in zinc, and zinc is useful in producing antibodies to fight infections.
How to Feed: Cheese goes well with many foods, including baked potatoes, sandwiches, etc. Kids also usually love pastas so try out this Cheesy Fusilli Pasta in Red Sauce recipe.
These veggies are also zinc-packed which as we know boosts immunity. The best part is, different kind of mushrooms also have antibacterial and antiviral properties.
How to Feed: Mushrooms go well in many variations, so experiment with curries, pasta, etc. A Mushroom Roll with other veggies is also a good and wholesome snack for the evening.
These bright red vegetables are very high in beta carotene – a nutrient that the body turns into Vitamin A. This also boosts the body’s mucus membrane lining which means bacteria find it harder to attack. Carrots are thus great options to boost your little one’s immune system and protect him from day-to-day infections.
How to Feed: If your little one has recently started solids, you can introduce this Carrot Pumpkin Puree. Older kids can be served this delicious Carrot Halwa. Carrots can also be eaten raw as a snack, after being well washed and sliced.
A good source of vitamins for toddlers to boost their immune system is berries. You can try strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. Though not many children have allergies to berries, a few do – watch out for symptoms like skin rash, vomiting, diarrhoea or swelling of the face.
How to Feed: Berries can become part of many delicious smoothies and shakes. They can also be served in the form of Oats Berries.
This amazing food helps your little one from getting infected by a nasty cold. It is one of the best immune boosters for babies and toddlers in this changing weather.
How to Feed: Ginger can be added to different foods for added flavour and health. You can lightly flavour your curries, dals, etc., with ginger. It can also be added to soups in grated form.
This food has the power to fight off bacterial, viral and fungal infections. It also stimulates the immune system cells to increase antibody production. This means a boosted immune system for your child.
How to Feed: Add 1-2 cloves of garlic to food while preparing it for added flavour as well as health benefits. Ensure not to overdo it as garlic has a very strong flavour. Some moms also add boiled garlic cloves to milk and serve this to kids before bed-time.
This is a good super-food for your baby’s overall health and immunity. Papaya is rich in potassium, folate and vitamins, and this helps regulate your child’s overall immunity.
How to Feed: Papaya is a great food to introduce to your baby in puree form first, and then in the form of slices.
When you’re looking for natural immune boosters foods, look no further than your box of spices! Yes, haldi is actually very good for the immune system. It has an ingredient called circumin which protects your child against colds, flu, etc.
How to Feed: Simply add a pinch of turmeric to your foods while cooking. You can also add a dash of turmeric to a glass of milk and serve it to your child to cure a cold.
This protein-rich and delicious food is also one of the foods to build up immune system. Chicken is useful for alleviating symptoms of common cold and fever too.
How to Feed: You can feed your child chicken in the form of curries, soups, sandwiches, or even in roasted form. Check out this easy chicken recipe shared by our mommy chef.
Yoghurt is laced with probiotics, which are good bacteria that benefit the gut. They can reduce instances of diarrhoea and even lower the risk of colds and ear infections. While yoghurt is the probiotic form of choice, you can try similar foods good for immune system such as buttermilk. Introduce these foods gradually in your child’s diet so that he has the time to develop a taste for them.
How to Feed: Yoghurt can be served along with regular food or be whipped up into different yogurt recipes for kids such as smoothies, salads and shrikhand.
Eggs are a complete food and one of the few to contain vitamin D naturally. They are also an immune system booster for kids. However, some children are allergic to egg whites and a few to egg yolks so wait until your tot is at least a year old.
How to Feed: You can hard-boil an egg and mash or chop up the yolk into small pieces. Feed it as is or mix it with his regular food. You can also try these ready-in-a-jiffy eggs.
Vitamins C and K are packed into broccoli, making it one of the top immunity boosting foods for toddlers. The right age to introduce this food is when your child is between 8-10 months as it has the potential to cause gas.
How to Feed: If your child doesn’t seem to take too kindly to broccoli, you can make a creamy soup out of it, cook it with cheese or make a delicious broccoli sandwich.
Iron-rich lentils can be added to the list of foods that boost your immune system. They are also very soothing foods to alleviate symptoms of cold and flu, in case your child is already suffering from an infection.
How to Feed: Most toddlers will eat lentils without a fuss but if yours takes some convincing, add diced carrots, beetroot and corn. Soupy lentils mixed with a bit of tomatoes is another way to prepare it.
Pumpkin is an easy item to feed toddlers and given on its own or mashed with rice, most kids will readily eat it. It’s rich in vitamins A, C, E as well as calcium, potassium and folate.
How to Feed: Why not make a pumpkin soup with paprika? Yum!
Other Important Immunity-Boosting Tips for Your Child
When you’re trying to figure out how to build a strong immune system in toddlers, there are a few more things you need to remember as a parent. Other than incorporating the above foods in your child’s diet, also keep these immunity-boosting tips in mind. This will prevent your child from falling ill:
- Ensure your child gets adequate sleep. Check this sleep chart for kids to find out if your child is getting the required amount of sleep. It is during sleep that the body rejuvenates and builds stronger immunity
- Avoid high-sugar foods for kids such as cakes and cookies and also packaged fruit juices. Too much sugar can suppress the immune system
- Help your child remain stress-free by maintaining a calm environment at home and giving him plenty of physical exercise. Stress, when unchecked, can weaken immunity
- If your child keeps falling ill despite making these dietary and lifestyle changes, discuss this with the doctor. He will be able to recommend the best immune booster supplements for kids, if required
How do you boost immune system in toddlers? With healthy food, of course! There’s such a large variety of items to try, most of them delicious.