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It is becoming more and more difficult every day to keep children within the brackets of “healthy”. Gone are the days when being a kid equated to being happy-go-lucky, jolly and carefree. The times are different today and the lives of children are more burdened than ever. The biggest hurdle in your child’s way in this onward journey is ill health.
Everything from the climate, food, eating habits and lifestyle is undergoing a constant change. Then again, not all these factors affect all children in the same way. This is where immunity comes into the picture. The effect of each of these changes and many others on each child will be determined by how strong the immune system of the child is. As it is not always possible to control the external factors, it becomes important that children have a strong immune system.
The immune system of children is the soldier that fights against illnesses and infections and plays a big role in ensuring their growth, health and wellbeing. In Ayurveda, there is a special branch dedicated to child healthcare, known as Kuamarbhrutya. It focuses on maintaining all the key aspects of child health including immunity, nutrition, digestion and metabolism. Since a child’s health is dependent on the mother’s health, Kaumarbhrutya also focuses on special aspects of the mother’s health. Therefore, Ayurvedic principles and lifestyle ensure that your child remains healthy right from the beginning years. Here are a few do’s and don’ts that you can follow to ensure strong immunity of your child -
Ayurveda recommends breastfeeding to be done at least upto 1 year: Breastfeeding is very essential for building your child’s immunity. Breast milk is full of antibodies, which help prevent infections and allergies.
Ensure your child sleeps enough:Incomplete or disturbed sleep can make your child easily tired and more prone to infections. Newborns need at least 18 hours of sleep, toddlers require 12 hours and pre-school children need 10 hours of sleep. Also, set an everyday bed routine for your child and make him sleep between 9-10 PM.
Maintain your child’s gut health: Your child's digestive system plays a vital role in his/her overall health, and a healthy gut means a healthy life. Ayurveda explains that your stomach consists of a central digestive fire that transforms food in the stomach into energy that helps each cell function. So, if children fall sick often, it can mean that there is something wrong with their stomach. This can happen when impurities and toxins build up in the digestive tract; this waste is called ama in Ayurveda. An excessive buildup of ama can cause weak immunity, poor digestion, lack of appetite, slow growth, etc. To keep their digestive fire strong, ensure that they eat warm, regular home-cooked meals and stay away from processed foods and foods containing artificial colours and preservatives.
Abhyanga (massage with oil): A daily massage with sesame oil or mustard oil (or coconut oil if the child has pitta prakriti) is recommended in Ayurveda as it relaxes the child’s nervous system, rejuvenates their tissues and promotes healthy blood circulation.
Swarnprashan is a natural way to build immunity in children: Swarnprashan is recommended in the Vedas to enhance intellect, memory, vision, hearing acuity, physical strength, immunity, digestion and metabolism in a growing child. Swarnprashan is swarna bhasma mixed with honey, ghee, brahmi, shankupushpi and many essential herbs to develop intelligence and immunity in a growing child and support overall growth and development. It is recommended for all children aged 1 month to 16 years.
Frequent use of Antibiotics - Antibiotics can provide quick relief, but in the long run, they may decrease the susceptibility to infections. Overuse can also lead to drug-resistance and weaken your child’s immune system.
Encourage the consumption of Junk Food: Perhaps the most important thing that affects your child’s immunity is diet. A growing taste for fast food and its easy availability doesn’t seem to help the case. It affects the digestion process and the body eventually misses out on important nutrients that aid in child growth and immunity.
Allow them to spend more time in front of screens: Let them play outdoors every day; spend some time under the Sun and with nature. A survey suggests that the present generation spent only half their time playing outdoors as compared to their parents - blame it on mobiles, TV or online games! Set up a routine for yourself and children for physical activity including exercise, yoga or pranayama.
Curb your child’s expressions: Expressing feelings helps to even out emotions. Therefore, do not use harsh words and physical violence with children. The child should always associate the home environment with safety and should be able to openly communicate about their feelings and emotions. Curbed expressions may eventually affect their psychological health. It increases the stress level which adversely affects your child’s immunity.
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