Can What Your Baby Eats Keep the Flu Away? The Doctor Says Yes!

Cold and flu season is upon us! Other than keeping babies cooped up inside for the next three months and excessively washing hands, is there anything parents can do to keep their babies healthy all winter long?

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According to Dr. Tanya Altmann, ensuring babies get the proper nutrition can helpvwith  keeping them cold-free and help to keep the flu away. As with all young babies, monitor their eating closely to avoid any choking and check with your pediatrician before feeding these foundation foods (and modify as needed to accommodate any food allergies). Here are Dr. Altmann's tips:

Safe Dairy.  Dr. Altmann advises that dairy is safe for babies under 12 months, but knows that it can be confusing to find the right kind of dairy when your baby has stopped taking breast milk but is too young for cow’s milk. You might think it’s safer to avoid any new dairy products until they are at least 12 months. But Dr. Altmann says that dairy is packed with essential nutrients (such as calcium and vitamin D) for growing bodies, and it is an important part of baby’s diet. The good news is babies as young as six months can begin eating yogurt, even if they’re breastfeeding. Not only is it a healthy option for their little bodies, you’ll find that infants love yogurt! Choose a brand made with organic whole milk, like Stonyfield Organic YoBaby.

Exposing baby to healthy foods early. Introducing baby’s first solids is a stressful time for parents and Dr. Altmann wasn’t surprised to learn that over half of parents (53%) feel overwhelmed by the varying opinions of early childhood nutrition. There’s a lot of information out there! To keep it simple, Dr. Altmann has a list of trusted foundation foods that ensure your baby is receiving the proper nutrients. Some of the foundation foods are eggs, prunes, avocados, fish, yogurt, cheese, nut butter, chicken, beans, lentils, berries, citrus fruits, green vegetables, whole grains, and water. Mix and match these foods as your baby becomes more and more comfortable with solids. 

{ MORE: Don't Touch My Baby: It's Flu Season }

Protecting baby’s gut health. Let’s talk about your baby’s tiny tummy. Did you know that gut health is the foundation for overall good health as babies grow? To help protect your baby’s gut health, you want to ensure they’re getting enough probiotics. While naturally found in breast milk, probiotics are also found in yogurt, one of the previously mentioned foundation foods. Stonyfield has added probiotic BB-12 to YoBaby. BB-12 has been shown to have a digestive health benefit when consumed regularly by promoting beneficial gut bacteria and regular, soft stools.

Natural sugar vs. added sugar. Sugar is receiving a lot of attention in the news recently and many  parents are looking more closely at labels when grocery shopping. Most importantly, parents need to understand the difference between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar. Wholesome foods like milk, yogurt, and fruit have naturally occurring sugar that is a part of a healthy diet. Added sugar helps to give different flavors their sweet taste and is what you should be on the lookout for. Many labels don’t differentiate between natural and added sugar, but they will begin to in the near future.

Finger Food. Don’t be afraid to put down the spoon and let your little one try feeding themselves with some nutritious finger foods. Dr. Altmann's favorite way to start is with some cut up berries. The soft berries are easy for them to pick up and feel gentle against their gums. You’re helping to develop their fine motor skills and introducing a new and delicious snack.

Remember to use common sense as well to keep colds and the flu away. Keep your child away from sick kids if at all possible, wipe down surfaces regularly, help relieve congestion early with an effective humidifier like this one from Honeywell designed to last all night, and wash everyone's hands as regularly as possible. 

{ MORE: Home-Cooked Meals: Back to School Meal Planning Made Simple }

Do you have any tips on keeping colds and the flu away? Share in the comments!

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Can What Your Baby Eats Keep the Flu Away? The Doctor Says Yes!

Jamie is a Beltway Insider who loves channeling her pre-motherhood love of traveling into spending time exploring all D.C. has to offer with her brood of two girls and two boys ages 9, 7,5, and a baby. She is a reformed lawyer turned full-time kid wrangler who enjoys photographing her everyday chaos and anything salted caramel. Since life is never dull, she loves writing about the issues and events going on in her life at any given time, including caring for a daughter with special needs and th ... More

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