Nutrition to support your child's immune system

Nutrition to support your child's immune system

It's mid-January and you finally feel like you're getting back into a routine… Then your little one gets sent home from nursery or school (again!). With so many colds and illnesses going around this winter, you're probably wondering how you can support your child's immune system. Read on as our Children's Dietitian, Lucy Upton, shares her wisdom…

While "boosting" the immune system is a popular term, the reality is that we don't want an immune system working in overdrive. However, there are plenty of ways to support your child's immune system to work at its best with the food and nutrients you offer.


Here are some tips to support your child's immune system:

  • Offer plenty of variety and colour with fruits and vegetables. From antioxidants to immune-supporting nutrients like Vitamin A and Vitamin C, it's probably no surprise that getting your child's 5-a-day is a winner for their immune system. Here at Pots for Tots, we aim to include at least 3 or more vegetables in all of our meals!
  • Vitamin D is a key nutrient for the immune system but we struggle to get enough here in the UK this time of year, and young children are recommended a daily 10mcg supplement. Be sure not to skip this!
  • Zinc is another immune system favourite, and some research supports its role in reducing the length of common winter illnesses like colds. You can find zinc in foods like meat, eggs and fish (and nuts like Brazil nuts for plant-based families).


Your child has lost their appetite… What food should you serve them?

First, it’s important to say that periods of reduced appetite are expected when children are unwell - the body has other priorities than eating. As parents, it can leave us feeling worried and concerned, especially if your child’s energy levels seem low.

Whilst we can’t make children eat when they are unwell (most children will bounce back AND catch up when they feel better) during times of illness, it can be helpful to:

  • Offer little and often eg 3 small meals and 3 snack times a day, including extra opportunities for fluids.
  • Prioritise some preferred foods that your child is familiar with and may find easier to eat - often these are plain foods like pasta, yoghurt, toast, crackers or fruit. Many of our parents find options like our Mini Banana Pancakes are a lifeline during illness or our simple range, as these meals contain more carbohydrates, easier-to-manage textures and simpler tastes.
  • Add extra nutrients where you can - load cereals or porridge with extra grated fruit, nut butter, seeds or yoghurt, for example.
  • Fluid-rich foods can be helpful too, especially if your child has a sore throat or has had a temperature. Think fruits, yoghurt, milky cereals and even meals with a sauce like our curries, pasta and chilli.


Pots for Tots meals and snacks we recommend for poorly tots…

  • Mini Banana Pancakes - contain more carbs and are an easy-to-manage texture!
  • Chilli Con Carne & Pasta Bolognese - fluid-rich dishes, thanks to the sauce.
  • Our Simple Range - designed with fussy eaters in mind, this range also lends itself to children who may benefit from consuming a more simple version of their favourite dishes, such as Chicken Korma, Pasta Bolognese and Med Veg Orzo.
  • Mac & Cheese - a comforting classic!

Looking for more advice from Lucy? Here are her tips to encourage your tot to eat more veggies, plus she answers your burning foodie questions here.

Love, Team Pots for Tots x

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