SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- Mercy Springfield Pediatrician Dr. Laura Waters shared some helpful tips Tuesday morning on how parents can boost their child’s immune system.

Below are five common ways to do so:

  • Breastfeeding- while a personal decision, there are proven benefits that show breastfed babies tend to be healthier and experience less allergies. They also get passed on good antibodies from mom while BF.
  • Hand washing- 80% of infections are spread by touch. Teach your kids how to wash well after coughing, sneezing or going to the bathroom.
  • Don’t skip immunizations.
  • Sleep should be a priority to maximize immunity. Not getting enough sleep limits the body’s ability to produce proteins called cytokines that help fight infection and reduce inflammation.
  • Encourage a healthy diet- diets good in Vitamins A & E help maintain good and strong immune systems. Better to eat the vitamins through food than supplement, but if you’ve got a picky eater, talk with your doctor about supplements before starting them.

Common things billed as immune boosting don’t have evidence to back that up. Vitamin C and echinacea don’t have any definitive proof that they help prevent colds. Dr. Waters says it is not recommended to have your kids on large amounts of Vitamin C without speaking with your doctor.

Even if parents do all these things, the average kid can have 7-11 colds per year for up to 2 weeks each.