In comparison to how the pandemic affected adults, the pandemic had a different effect on children’s health. While being at home protected them from pollutants and virus infections, it took a toll on their immunity during the last two years. Children’s immunity develops as a result of their exposure to various germs, bacteria, and viruses while at school, playing, and interacting with other children outside. While the lockdown allowed them to spend more time with their parents, their bodies were deprived of any opportunity to appreciate nature. With the reopening of schools and the lifting of additional limitations such as travelling to parks and swimming pools, toddlers and children’s immune systems are now unexpectedly exposed to viruses.
Is it COVID-19 or viral infections that are causing this?
At least 10% to 20% of the cases we see are still COVID infections, with the remainder being ordinary viral infections. They are prone to developing upper respiratory infections and gastroenteritis, which are mostly viral and thus self-limiting in nature, though a small percentage could be bacterial in nature. Blame it on the heat waves, sudden rain and changes in weather, fluctuating humidity levels, and the sudden exposure to various allergens.
Having said that, children must be exposed to the sun, attend school frequently, and interact with other children in parks or playgrounds in order to develop antibodies and cellular immunity that will protect them from illnesses and diseases.
Tips to help boost immunity in toddlers –
* A healthy and well balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and protein rich food goes a long way in boosting once immune system .This will ensure healthy gut microbiome as gut microbiota plays a major role in immune response .
* Plan your child’s diet that includes nutrient-rich home cooked food. It is always healthier if you cook your child’s favourite junk food at home.
* Adequate hydration helps in removing toxins from the body .
*Adequate sleep is very essential.
*Ensure that kids are stress free and engage in physical activity
*Age appropriate vaccination and followup boosters are essential.
* In this era of covid simple precautions like ensuring personal hygiene is essential.
* Encourage to wear masks in children at public places above 3 years old.
*Inculcate the habit of handwashing – with soap and water before eating.
Encourage your child to go outside and have fun. Restricting them at home will not keep them safe, but it will have a negative impact on their growth, development, and psychological difficulties, in addition to weakening their immunological levels. Adequate parental engagement and conversation with the child can help build immunity and improve the child’s overall development.