These youngest humans need special care and attention, especially when it comes to healthy development and growth. Babies under age 1 get most of their nutritional needs from breast milk or formula. Breastfeeding mothers should eat a diet rich in important nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics, which have been shown to support brain development and lower risk for health problems later on, respectively. Because food allergies are increasingly common among young children, new solid foods should be introduced one by one, waiting until after age 1 for potential allergens such as peanuts.
As children get older, experts recommend feeding them a wide variety of whole foods, mostly the same foods the parents eat; avoid junk foods. Pesticides have a greater relative impact on smaller and developing bodies, so it’s important to choose organic foods whenever possible; drink filtered water; use nontoxic bath products, house cleaning products, and laundry soaps; and avoid using pesticides in your home or backyard. And because obesity is a growing problem for U.S. children, physical exercise should become a daily habit early on.
Caution should be used when giving medicine to babies and young children; many conventional cough and cold medicines have been recalled due to health threats. Because of growing antibiotic resistance (and because antibiotic drugs also kill “good bugs” that help with immunity), experts recommend avoiding the use of antibiotics unless they’re really needed, for bacterial infections such as strep throat and acute ear infections that aren’t getting better. (Always consult your doctor first.)
Safe supplements to boost children’s immunity include a high-quality multivitamin, vitamins C and D, probiotics, elderberry extract, and propolis extract. Other recommended supplements for children include calcium and DHA, an omega-3 essential fatty acid. Gentle homeopathic remedies can also be safe, effective choices for common childhood complaints such as teething or cold symptoms.