A sudden spike in children complaining of fever, cough, viral infections, both respiratory and gastrointestinal, have triggered the fear amongst parents. Although the trend shows that the child shows signs of recovery within two to three days, the concern continues to linger, given the past two years of turmoil that the world went through.
The pandemic had a different impact on children’s health, compared to how it affected the adults. While they were safeguarded from the pollution and viral infections by staying at home, the last two years did take a tremendous toll on their immunity. Immunity in children develops when they are exposed to different kinds of microorganisms, bacteria and viruses when they go to school or play and interact with children outside. The lockdown, if allowed them to spend more time with their parents, their body missed all the opportunities to enjoy being in the nature. And now, with the reopening of schools, and other restrictions such as going to parks, swimming pools being lifted, the immune system in toddlers and children are now suddenly exposed to these viral infections.
Is it Covid-19 or viral infections?
At least 10-20% of the cases that we witness are still Covid infections, while rest are simple viral infections. Blame it on the heat waves, sudden rains and change in weather, fluctuating humidity levels and the sudden exposure to various allergens, they are prone to developing upper respiratory infections and gastroenteritis which mostly are viral and hence self limiting in nature though a small percentage could be bacterial in nature.
Having said that, it is necessary for children to step out in the sun, go to school regularly, play with other kids in the parks or playgrounds to help build antibodies and cellular immunity to protect them from infections and diseases.
Tips to help boost immunity in toddlers –
- A healthy and well-balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and protein rich food goes a long way in boosting once immune system. This will ensure healthy gut microbiome as gut microbiota plays a major role in immuneresponse.
- Plan your child’s diet that includes nutrient-rich home cooked food. It is always healthier if you cook your child’s favorite junk food at home.
- Adequate hydration helps in removing toxins from the body.
- Adequate sleep is very essential
- Ensure that kids are stress free and engage in physical activity
- Age-appropriate vaccination and follow-up boosters are essential
- In this era of covid simple precautions like ensuring personal hygiene is essential
- Encourage to wear masks in children at public places above 3 years old
- Inculcate the habit of handwashing – with soap and water before eating.
Encourage your child to step out and play. Restricting them at home is not going to keep them safe but can have adverse effects on growth and developmental and psychological problems apart from lowering their immune levels. Adequate parental interaction and communication with the child can go along way in boosting immunity and in overall development of the child