Article by Kate Rose
A baby's immune system is delicate at birth and strengthens over time when exposed to different environments. There are many ways mothers can support their babies in building a robust immune system naturally, starting preconception. Here are a few.
Preconception, Pregnancy, and Birth
Both mother (and father) must prepare for and support a healthy pregnancy through such means as a diet of organic whole foods a healthy lifestyle. It's crucial to address any health concerns preconceptions and continue healthy practices throughout pregnancy. After all, an unborn baby essentially eats what the mom is eating and is exposed to the mother's environment and her immunity during pregnancy.
Unmedicated vaginal birth is generally the healthiest option for both mother and baby unless complications. During vaginal birth, bacteria from the mother is passed onto the baby. This helps colonize the baby's gut microbiome and builds immunity. If possible, we would encourage mothers to choose an unmedicated vaginal birth and consider more traditional birthing environments such as hospitals with a birthing unit, birth centers, and home births for uncomplicated pregnancies. Traditional birthing environments also support skin-to-skin contact delayed cord cutting and provide a loving and nurturing environment for a baby's debut into the world. Working with experienced midwives and other holistic birth guides throughout pregnancy is a great way to educate, prepare and empower expectant mothers for a natural birth. Unfortunately, many hospitals within the United States do not adequately assist mothers in preparing for a natural birth and perform an excessive amount of unnecessary interventions, including c-sections. While c-sections and other interventions are necessary, life-saving procedures in an emergency are often overused. Consequently, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any industrialized country.
Breastfeed (if possible)
Breastmilk is nature's perfect food for babies, and it includes antibodies, probiotics, proteins, sugars, and fats essential for a baby's development. As a result, breastfed babies tend to have more robust immune systems than formula-fed babies. Breastfeeding also provides actual skin-to-skin contact and is a particular time for mother and baby to bond. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusively breastfeeding infants from birth until six months. From 6 months to 1 year, mothers continue to breastfeed their infants while gradually introducing solid foods into the baby's diet. After the first year, breastfeeding can be continued if the mother and her infant mutually agree. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months. After this time, they receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods. At the same time, breastfeeding continues for up to 2 years of age or longer. The WHO's recommendations are consistent with many lactation consultants, midwives, and other holistic birth professionals.
Breastfeeding is not always easy, or possible, for every mother but know that help is available. We highly recommend seeking the guidance of an experienced lactation consultant to assist with any breastfeeding challenges. Joining a group of like-minded mothers to share stories and experiences is highly beneficial, especially in the first few months after birth.
If breastfeeding is not a possibility, consider finding a healthy donor for breastmilk or give baby an organic formula that does not contain harmful ingredients such as soy, vegetable oils, carrageenan, and synthetic nutrients like lycopene and lutein (which are banned in the EU).
Get outside in different environments.
The air inside our home is often more toxic than outdoor air, primarily due to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) released by toxic personal care products, household cleaning products, furniture and finishings, and dust within the home. Getting outside, preferably in nature, is a great way to reduce your baby's exposure to VOCs while also exposing their little bodies to the diverse microbiome of the earth. Exposing babies to soil and plants (which have not been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, particularly Glyphosate) influences their microbiome through building immune tolerance and may also prevent the development of allergies.
Vitamin D3 is an essential nutrient for boosting your baby's immune system, bone development, and the prevention of rickets. Breastmilk alone does not provide adequate levels of vitamin D3 for infants. The best natural sources of vitamin D3 for your baby are through regular safe sun exposure. Keep babies younger than six months of age out of direct sunlight, such as under a tree, umbrella, or stroller canopy, and limit their time in the sun to prevent burning.
If your baby is still not getting adequate vitamin D3, consider using a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement balanced with vitamin k2, and always check the appropriate dosage with your child's primary healthcare provider.
The best way to limit your baby's exposure to the harms of artificial ingredients, processed foods, GMOs, and synthetic pesticides is for the mother and baby (when introduced to solids) to nourish their bodies with a diet of organic whole foods. Artificial ingredients, genetically modified ingredients, and pesticides cause and contribute to several health problems, including autoimmune diseases, cancer, infertility, birth defects, autism, obesity, allergies, and depression. Furthermore, a buildup of toxins in the baby's body typically results in a weakened immune system.
Organic whole foods are generally more expensive than conventional foods. However, we see it as an investment in health. Some ways to reduce the cost of organic produce include buying fruits and vegetables in season, purchasing from local farms, and growing your own. Unfortunately, even organically grown produce contains pesticide residues, so be sure to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly (preferably with a non-toxic produce wash), include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet to reduce exposure to any one chemical, and choose to produce that is locally grown and in the season to reduce exposure to chemical cosmetics and preservatives.
Beware of store-bought baby foods (even organic) as there is evidence to show heavy metals in baby foods are linked to autism. It is straightforward to make and store your baby foods by blending roasted or steamed fruits and vegetables. When storing foods, be sure to use glass and other materials which do not leach harmful chemicals, and avoid plastic as much as possible.
Use Natural Remedies over Medication
Babies and children will inevitably suffer colds and other illnesses as they develop their immune systems. Each time they do, their immune system strengthens! We recommend using natural and non-toxic remedies such as vitamin supplements as the first option to support children through illness. Consider working with a holistic pediatrician or other experienced holistic health professionals such as homeopaths and chiropractors when your child is ill. They often have a more thorough knowledge than conventional doctors and prioritize natural treatments over pharmaceutical medication. Their consultations are also generally more extended, so they have more time with patients to be exhaustive.
Common pharmaceutical medications given to children have been linked to neurological damage, developmental delays, and immune system issues. For example, acetaminophen, the main ingredient in the widely used Tylenol, has been linked to autism, attention deficit disorders, and liver failure in children1.
Vaccination is one way that the FDA asserts will protect children against severe disease. However, vaccines do contain many toxins which accumulate in the body, and vaccines can cause or contribute to severe injury and death. Please consult with your trusted health advisors and educate yourself on vaccines (including ingredients) so you are in a position to make fully informed decisions on behalf of your child. Understand that each pediatrician will have a different perspective on vaccines depending on their education, source of information on vaccines, financial incentives, experience with vaccine injuries and infectious diseases, and personal beliefs. No one size fits all, and each child will respond differently to vaccination. Hence, parents need to assess the risk vs. benefit for their child for each vaccine. Ultimately, using your intuition and independent science will be the best guide.
Kate Rose is an Intuitive Transformational Coach and founder of Kate Rose Wellness. She combines energy healing with her extensive knowledge and experience in holistic living to help people transform their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.
The information, including but not limited to text, graphics, images, and other material contained in this article, are for informational purposes only.
We are not medical doctors, and the purpose of this article is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.
- Thomas, P. and Margulis, J., 2016. The Vaccine-Friendly Plan. New York: Penguin Random House LLC.
- What are the recommendations for breastfeeding?
- The European Organic Baby Formula Guide for New Moms
- Experts Discuss Baby Food Heavy Metals Link to Autism at Jan. 31 Hearing