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Why is my toddler always sick? Is there anything I can do to help build their immune system?

sick child with mom on the couch. Child is wrapped in a blanket with a thermometer

It’s common for toddlers to experience frequent illnesses—especially during their early years when their immune systems are still developing and they’re often exposed to new environments. If your toddler has recently entered a daycare environment, you may notice them getting ill frequently as they are being exposed to new germs from other children. But fear not—there are steps you can take to help support your toddler’s immune system and reduce the frequency and severity of illnesses.

Ensure proper nutrition: A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats provides essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support immune function. Encourage your toddler to eat a variety of nutritious foods to help strengthen their immune system.

Promote good hygiene habits: Teach your toddler good hygiene habits, such as washing their hands regularly with soap and water (especially before eating and after using the bathroom or playing outside). Model covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing, so they will learn to do the same and prevent the spread of germs.

Ensure adequate sleep: Adequate sleep is crucial for immune function and overall health. Establish a consistent bedtime routine and ensure your toddler gets the recommended amount of sleep for their age, which is typically 11 to 14 hours per day, including naps.

Encourage physical activity: Regular physical activity helps boost the immune system and promotes overall health. 

Limit exposure to sick individuals: Minimize your toddler’s exposure to sick individuals, especially during cold, flu and RSV season by avoiding crowded places or close contact with others.

Consider vaccination: Follow the recommended vaccination schedule for your toddler to protect them against common childhood illnesses, such as measles, mumps, rubella and influenza.

Manage stress: Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, so create a nurturing and supportive environment for your toddler and help them cope with stressors in a healthy way.

Consult with a healthcare provider: If your toddler seems to be frequently sick or if you have concerns about their immune health, consult with your pediatrician or healthcare provider. They can assess your child’s health, provide personalized recommendations, and address any underlying issues that may be contributing to frequent illnesses.

By incorporating these strategies into your toddler’s daily routine, you can help strengthen their immune system and support their overall health and well-being. However, it’s important to remember that occasional illnesses are a normal part of childhood and can help build immunity over time.

a man carrying two children

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