At birth, babies are given the gift of many of their mother’s immunities that she has built up over her years of training. As a mother (or father) your gift doesn’t need to end there. Toddler immune support is now through external factors. Read on to learn about my top three, easy and natural ways to give your toddler’s immune system a boost this winter.

Keep an eye on your toddler’s sugar intake

With excessive consumption of sugar linked to obesity and dental caries, keeping an eye on sugar intake makes good sense. Studies have shown that simple and refined sugars also suppress the immune system and can cause a decrease in the ability of white blood cells to kill germs.

Children between 1-3 years should have no more than 25 grams daily.

One of the best ways to move away from a sugar-laden diet is to read food labels. Learn and then teach your children the many names for free sugars. When choosing packaged foods, be sure look out for healthy options with no added sugar.

Vitamin D for Toddlers

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is made by the body when sunlight hits skin. It is essential for healthy bones and increases the absorption of calcium. It is also critical for your little one’s developing immune system.

Vitamin D deficiency in the US is common, and as many as 60% of children have insufficient levels. Low levels of vitamin D may be more common than you think, since clothing and sunscreen can block the synthesis of vitamin D, and relatively few foods contain vitamin D.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently increased the recommended amount of vitamin D for toddlers to 600 IU per day. Food sources for vitamin D include salmon, and fortified orange juice. Fortified cow milk and enriched cow milk alternatives can also contribute to your little one’s daily intake.

Whole foods for the whole family

In addition to keeping an eye on your toddler’s sugar consumption and vitamin D status, their immune health starts with a whole foods diet. As parents, it’s important to model healthy eating habits and to continually offer whole foods to your little one. Aim for 5 servings of colorful fruits and veggies each day. Eating the rainbow provides important beta-carotene, vitamin C, and a range of phytonutrients, all which contribute to a strong immune system for your toddler and the whole family.

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Annie Salsberg ND DrGreene.com contributor

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