8 Habits That Can Weaken A Child's Immunity

Do you wonder why your child is falling sick frequently despite giving him healthy food and following the vaccination schedule meticulously? It could be low immunity.

By Ashwin Dewan  • 10 min read

8 Habits That Can Weaken A Child's Immunity

Sanjana Basu, a seemingly healthy adult, recounts her experience of chronic cold as a child. Sanjana was perpetually sick until the age of 12. She had a runny nose and was coughing throughout the day at school much to the despair of her parents. The teachers worried other children in class may contract her condition. Sanjana’s mother tried her grandma’s home remedies but they failed to work. She even stopped her from going out to play for a whole year. Nothing seemed to work.

Sanjana remembers how her parents ran from pillar to post looking for a cure. Then, they met a doctor who questioned Sanjana’s parents about her habits – about whether she did not follow a proper hygiene to whether she was fond of sugar-laden goodies. And, then he revealed that little changes to her lifestyle would improve her immunity and she could grow up healthy. Sanjana started to mend her habits and outgrew her tendency to fall sick. 

Sanjana is not alone. There are many children out there who suffer from a weak immunity. According to a report by the World Health Organization, the number of children suffering from asthma has doubled since 1980 in developed countries. Factors such as poor nutrition, pollution, a sedentary lifestyle and stress are wrecking havoc on the immunity of children. As parents, what are we doing to ensure our child's immunity is strong? For, a strong immune system is essential for your child to grow up into a healthy adult. 

Ask yourself whether you are doing enough to boost your child's immunity? 

The more the child is exposed to the germs in the environment around him, the better his immunity. But, there are certain habits your child may develop as he grows that may hamper the development of his immunity such as not sleeping enough and overusing antibiotics. Let us look at 8 bad habits that can hurt your child's immunity.

Bad habit #1: Lack of outdoor play

Is your child a couch potato? Does he prefer whiling away his time watching cartoons or playing games? If so, it is time you encouraged him to get some outdoor activity. An inactive child will have a weak immunity as lack of exercise will stagnate disease-fighting cells. Time spent outdoors also ensures your child gets his required dose of vitamin D, which helps in enhancing immunity.

What you can do:

Talk to your child to find out if he is interested in a particular sport. Support him by accompanying him for the training. Take him out to play in the neighbourhood park after school and during weekends. Set aside a time every week for him to play.

Bad habit #2: Not enough sleep

Lack of sleep can seriously affect your child’s immunity. Your child will require at least 10 to 14 hours of sleep per day depending on his age. Habits such as staying up late, playing games on the computer or fidgeting with a smartphone can reduce your child’s chances of falling asleep early. 

Less sleep produces physical stress that prevents oxygen from circulating freely in the brain. This can lower his immune system and make him more vulnerable to germs. 

What you can do:

Limit the use of gadgets during the night. Ensure the bedroom is dark and quiet, and conducive to sleeping.

8 Habits That Can Weaken A Child's Immunity

Bad habit #3: Antibiotics abuse

Every time you rush to the doctor when your child is ill, there is a chance that an antibiotic is prescribed. Excessive antibiotic use can lead to antibiotic-resistance in your child. It also weakens your child’s immune system.

What you can do:

Do not resort to antibiotics for every little illness. Try to see if there are alternate cures or home remedies available.

Read all you need to know about how certain habits can hamper the body's immune system in this ClipBook.

Bad habit #4: Lack of hygiene

If your child is not following hygienic habits, it can expose her body to more germs leading to a weak immune system. Not washing her hands before eating, not brushing her teeth properly, dirty and untrimmed nails are all unhygienic habits that can weaken the immune system.

What you can do:

Teach your child good hygiene from an early age. Encourage her to wash her hands when she comes back home after a game or before she sits down to eat. Make trimming nails a weekly practice. Your child will get into the routine with ease and she will grow up with a strengthened immunity.

Bad habit #5: Not expressing feelings properly

Some children tend to keep their troubles and problems to themselves. However little they may seem, these stressors can, in the long run, impact the child’s health. Constant worry about a friend not talking at school, about a poor score or about a bully in the bus can lead to decreased immunity due to increase in the levels of stress.

What you can do:

Allow your child to perform at her pace. Do not push her to achieve more than what she is capable of. Teach your child relaxation techniques like yoga. Encourage her to express any concerns she may have at school. Listen patiently when she talks so that she knows she can confide in you without fear of judgement.

Bad habit #6: Eating an unhealthy diet

You are what you eat, goes an old saying. A healthy and nutritious diet is one way of ensuring your child’s immunity is strong. If your child is regularly consuming a diet high in additives, preservatives and sugar, it can adversely affect digestion and increase inflammation leading to a weak immunity.

8 Habits That Can Weaken A Child's Immunity

What you can do:

Make sure your child eats fresh and wholesome food regularly. Make it a practice to include 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in your family’s diet every day.

Bad habit #7: Exposure to second-hand smoke

Exposure to smoke, even if it is second hand, is extremely harmful to your child’s immunity. Children are more susceptible to second-hand smoke because their lungs are not well developed. Exposure to passive smoking tampers with the innate immunity of your child putting her at greater risk for bronchitis, asthma and even cancer.

What you can do:

Keep your child away from smoking zones. Encourage any member of the family who smokes to quit smoking. 

Bad habit #8: Not staying hydrated enough

Although your child may not need the same quantity of water as you do, she will still need to consume a quantity that is adequate enough for proper functioning of her digestive system. Proper digestion helps in good absorption of nutrients by the body resulting in better immunity. Water also flushes out toxins making it easier for the body to fight germs.

What you can do:

Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids every day. Encourage her to drink water every few hours even if she does not feel thirsty. 

Do you know that there are certain foods that can boost immunity in your little one? Go through this article that contains a list of foods known for their immunity-boosting properties.

In conclusion, let us learn from the WHO, which has beautifully stressed the importance of protecting our children from diseases in a poster contest. In the same way, the onus is on us to recognise the risk of diseases to our child so that we can take appropriate steps to protect our little ones – the future of this world.

Read this article to know more about why you should expose your child to germs.

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