They’re growing up so fast, but what about their immune system?
The first 1000 days of life – from preconception to their second birthday – is an important period in your child’s immune system journey. Being exposed to new bacterium and viruses for the first time, and generating their first antibodies to fight them, at this age is an important basis for the healthy future of your child.
But what is it about those first few years of life that make it so important?
The first 1000 days have become a focus for health professionals and early learning specialists, as it is recognised as a key window of growth and development. The most rapid period of brain growth happens at this time – around one per cent a day – mostly in language processing and the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that controls attention, inhibition and flexibility).
It’s also essential to immunity development. So-called “nest protection” is a valuable aid
The immunity that a child inherits passively from their mother gradually decreases within the first few months of their life, so it’s important to foster an environment that encourages the development of a strong immune system from a young age.
Making sure your child’s immune system has guts
Research shows that up to 80% of immune cells are located in the gut, and while the full extent of the connection isn’t fully understood, it’s clear that immunity and the gut microbiome are tightly linked. While cultivation of gut bacteria starts at birth, it’s vital that they can flourish as your child grows.
A balanced diet is essential for the development of healthy intestinal
A blocked nose is training for the immune system
Children tend to contract 5-10 colds or flu a year because they are being exposed to pathogens for the first time, and with limited defences. Contrast this with adults, who catch 2-4 colds per year, and you can see how effective the immune system becomes at fighting back. In addition, children with siblings are at a higher risk of contracting an illness. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sharing these germs helps train
As well as embracing mild colds (always see a doctor if you are concerned), there are other ways you can help upskill your child’s immune system, particularly in the first 1000 days.
· Regular exercise, preferably in the fresh air and even in winter or in bad weather
· Sufficient sleep and rest, avoiding stress and noise
· Avoid extreme hygiene — natural contact with germs in the environment promotes a strong immune system
· Vaccinations — which are recommended for children in the first year of life
· Good nutrition