How Infant Immune Systems & Gut Health Are Linked

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During the first few years of life, infants and toddlers make giant leaps in developing fine and gross motor skills, language, cognition and social skills. Another part of a child’s development happens in their body through their immune system. Children’s immune systems must grow and evolve into infection-fighting organs that keep them healthy and strong. In the first few years of life, much of this development happens in the gut. Parents can support their child’s well-being with tools like Wellements baby cough syrup, probiotics and healthy habits.

Gut Bacteria in Newborns 

A child’s gut health begins developing in the womb and continues to change during those first few hours of life. A newborn baby’s gut has the building blocks of a healthy immune system. In the first few days of a baby’s life, healthy bacteria begin to populate the gut. These bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium, grow in a baby’s gut to help support the immune system. It’s important to understand how to improve baby immunity during that first year of life so a child gets the best start.

A Mother’s Contribution 

Mothers also play a big role in their baby’s future immune system. During pregnancy, a mother’s antibodies pass through the placenta into the fetus. This helps protect the baby, even right after birth. Pregnant moms should also strive to eat foods that are rich in healthy bacteria, such as kefir, kimchi and yogurt to benefit infants. Additionally, there is even some evidence that the mother’s immune system may aid in the baby’s brain development.

Potential Barriers

Conditions surrounding a child’s birth may also present some barriers to a child’s immune system development. Babies that are born via cesarean section and are not breastfed may not develop the same amount of healthy gut bacteria that breastfed, vaginally-birthed infants do. Also, bathing a newborn too often, such as every day, may strip the skin of healthy bacteria. 

Immune Cells in the Gut

No matter what the circumstances are of a child’s birth, much of a child’s immune system development happens in their gut and intestines. In the folds of the intestines, immune system cells start to populate. This part of the body is called the epithelium. Parents can help support this development by working to boost their child’s gut health. 

Boosting Gut Health 

The first way a parent can help support their infant’s gut health is to choose to breastfeed. Then, once it’s time for solid foods, babies can also get a boost through food that contains healthy bacteria and probiotics, such as yogurt. Some babies may struggle with issues like constipation and colic during this intense period of gut health development. Learn what is gripe water to get information about soothing your baby when she is uncomfortable.

Immune System Problems   

As a child grows from infant to toddler, there will be many changes in the immune system. It’s also normal for young children to get colds and other illnesses. Parents should be aware of the signs of immune system problems, such as severe gastrointestinal discomfort, skin infections or weight gain issues.

A baby’s immune system will develop into a robust organ during the first three years of life. Parents can help nurture this development by paying careful attention to gut health and feeding a wholesome, nutrient-rich diet.

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