As the long days of summer slowly start to fade into the cool, cozy days of autumn, there’s a little nagging thought that may be at the back of many mamas’ minds; the approach of cold and flu season. My little one already got his first dose of the flu shot at his check-up last week, and I’m starting to see more and more pharmacies advertise that “The Flu Vaccine Is Here!” Whether you decide to help ward off the flu with vaccines or not, there’s still plenty of other germs lurking out there that you can’t fight off with a shot. So what’s a worried mama to do, especially with young infants and pre-toddlers? Well, if your baby is old enough to start eating solid food, you can help baby fight off germs with food! Click through to learn 8 ways you can help your baby fight off germs and hopefully stay healthy, one meal at a time.
Food To The Rescue!
Even the healthiest of eaters sometimes get sick, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to do your part to feed baby nutritious food, while at the same time, hopefully fight off some nasty germs. Read on for 8 ways you can incorporate foods to help fight the flu and the common cold.
Depending on where you live, nutritious, vitamin packed fruits and vegetables may be hard to come by in the fall and winter months. Frozen fruits and vegetables hold flavor and nutritional value just as well as their fresh counterparts. So feel good about incorporating plenty of frozen fruits and veggies, which are loaded with Vitamin C and other immune-boosting nutrition and antioxidants, into your little one’s diet. If baby is eating purees, steam and blend up simple mixes like carrots and peas, or if baby is old enough to start self-feeding, add frozen fruits and veggies to yogurt, warm cereal, and as a finger food.
Plenty Of Citrus
Citrus is packed with Vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant that can help boost immunity, as well as help heal your body from viruses, if your baby already has the flu or a cold. You can squeeze in fresh citrus fruits to purees, or opt for a plethora of other fruits and veggies loaded with Vitamin C, including carrots, blackberries, cranberries, bell peppers, kiwi, guava, tomatoes, papaya, broccoli, kale, spinach and broccoli. Make sure to always consult your pediatrician though, if you’re not sure your baby is old enough for certain new foods.
Phyto Foods - Phyto What?
Phyto foods are packed with phytonutrients, which are the tiny chemicals that are found in plant based foods. Foods packed with phytonutrients may help build your immune system and help your body fight off infection better. Deep colored fruits and veggies such as blueberries, spinach and asparagus are great phyto foods. If your baby is opposed to eating bite sized pieces of asparagus, try pureeing a batch, or even add some broth and cream to make a delicious asparagus soup!
Eating chicken soup to help fight off a cold isn’t just an old-wives tale. Turns out, warm soups like chicken noodle can reduce inflammation in baby’s body, and reduce cold and flu symptoms like runny nose and sneezing. It can also relieve congestion by loosening mucus in the upper respiratory system. Even just sipping on the broth will help your baby stay hydrated. All in all, chicken soup tastes yummy and may help baby feel better, faster.
Keep baby hydrated by making great tasting smoothies that are cool on a sore throat and easy to swallow. Pack them with foods loaded with Vitamin C and phytonutrients, like carrots, oranges, kale and pineapple, and you’re not only giving baby something yummy to drink, but you may also be helping to boost their immunity. Smoothies are pretty much my 1-year-old’s favorite thing to eat and drink.
Foods loaded with protein can help your little one heal from the flu faster. Protein also strengthens your baby’s immune system by helping their body produce white blood cells, which are needed to fight off infections. I cut up tiny bite size pieces of lean, red meat, chicken and turkey for my little one to gobble up, but even if your baby is on a vegetarian-based diet, eggs, lentils and beans are also loaded with good protein.
Yogurt is loaded with live acidophilus cultures, which is bacteria that may strengthen your baby’s immune system and could help restore the healthy bacteria in his digestive system that may have been reduced with antibiotic use. Plus, it just tastes good and can be mixed with wheat germ, ground flax seed and small bits of fruits to pack an extra nutritious punch. Since he was 6 months old, yogurt has been one of my little boy’s favorite foods.
Getting Better, Faster
If your poor little one is suffering from a cold or the flu, do your best to keep baby hydrated by drinking plenty of liquids, and if possible, readjust your schedule so baby can get lots of rest. With 2 older kids, our third baby gets schlepped around quite a bit, but when he’s sick, I try to call on help, or just cancel our plans so he can stay home and rest in my arms or his own crib. Lots of hand washing and plenty of hand sanitizer also help limit the germs spread around our family. Wishing you all lots of luck this cold and flu season, and may the germs stay away!
So what are some of your secrets to helping your family stay healthy? Do you find any foods or remedies to be really effective?