Diversification: what foods are good for strengthening baby's immunity?
Babies enter this world with antibodies that their mother passes on to them in the womb. They are then provided by milk. Until the age of 3 to 6 months, they are generally protected from a large number of infections by their mum's antibodies, even more so if they are breastfed1.
After 6 months, they produce them themselves. Their new solid diet will provide several nutrients that will contribute to support immune system.
In fact, it is from the age of 6 months, when the time comes to diversify their diet2, that parents have a role to play in choosing a complete and varied diet that can strengthen baby's immune system.
Diversification: continuing on from breast milk
Breast milk plays an important role in the development of your baby's immune system. It helps them to defend against germs and viruses. This is why, wherever possible, exclusive breastfeeding for your baby's first 6 months is ideal.2
At around 6 months, your child will be ready for the next step in their development with dietary diversification2 and the introduction of solid foods. During this phase, you can continue to stimulate your baby's natural immune system with a healthy, balanced diet specially designed for them.
A healthy diet: boosting immune defences
When your baby's diet is diversified, you will have the power, through a healthy, varied diet, to help stimulate their immune system.
For example, the vitamin C, iron and zinc found in certain foods all contribute to normal functioning of the immune system3.
Baby is born with iron reserves, which they draw on during the first few months of their life, but at 6 months they no longer have sufficient reserves. Other foods high in iron, such as red meat, poultry and fish, therefore need to be introduced to refill these reserves5!
You will also need to give them zinc, which is found in large quantities in fish and wheat products (wholemeal bread), as well as in eggs.4
And let's not forget vitamin C (orange, cauliflower, etc.), which will help baby to absorb the iron contained in their food!4
1 Booster le système immunitaire de bébé by Marie Pays, 14/04/2017, paroledemamans.fr
2WHO (April 2002), Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, document A55/15, paragraph 10
3 Zinc et fer, pour un bon système immunitaire, Blédina
4 Alimentation bébé : quels conseils pour couvrir ses besoins en fer ?, Iron Calculator, 2020
5Tounian P. Carence martiale. Arch Pediatr 2017; 124: 5S23-5S31.