Babies aren’t born with a fully developed immune system. It develops throughout life as they’re exposed to different germs that can cause disease. Below, we’ll cover the timeline of a baby’s immune system development and provide tips about how parents can help boost their baby’s immune system.
When Are Baby’s Immune Systems Fully Developed?
An infant’s immune system doesn’t mature until they’re between two and three months old. For immediate protection, the mother’s antibodies are shared with the infant through the placenta, immediately after birth, and through breastfeeding. During those first few months, their immune system – especially cell-mediated immunity – becomes more developed. This is very important in helping a child fight off viruses.
Tips to Boost a Baby’s Immune System
Every time your baby gets sick, they’re developing new antibodies that will protect them in the future. Here some things you can do in the meantime to help protect your baby and boost their immune system during their first few months of life:
- Breastfeeding. Breast milk contains many elements that support your baby’s immune system, such as proteins, fats, sugars, and antibodies, and probiotics. When a mother is exposed to germs, she develops antibodies to help her fight off the infection. These antibodies are passed to the baby in breast milk.
- Vaccination. Vaccinating children is the safest and most effective way to protect them against serious diseases. Vaccination causes an immune response in the same way a virus or bacteria would. If your child comes into contact with the real disease in the future, their immune system will recognize the germ and fight off the disease or prevent serious complications.
- Diet and supplements. In most cases, breast milk and formula provide all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs. Additional supplements aren’t recommended for babies. Taking antibiotics can kill some of the gut bacteria that are important for immunity. Probiotics are often recommended as a way of boosting their immunity after they’ve had antibiotics. Talk with your doctor before giving probiotics to your baby.
- Limited outside exposures. You can’t keep your baby in a protective bubble during their first six months of life, but you can limit their contact with other people. And always have visitors wash their hands before touching your baby. During the first two months, it’s important to limit exposure as much as possible because babies can get viruses from people who don’t know they’re contagious yet.
Learn More About Baby Immune Systems with Baptist Health
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