Seeking Advice on Boosting Son's Immune System

Updated on September 27, 2006
R. asks from Greenville, SC
29 answers

Hi, my son is 15-months-old. He was formula fed for the first year of his life, which I regret. Ever since he was 4-months-old, he has had the problem of getting sick every 2 weeks, like clockwork. It ALWAYS begins with sneezing. He starts sneezing, and I know he is going to be sick in a day or two. Then, his sneezing gets so bad, that he looks like a walrus with the gunk hanging from his nose, or it will shoot across the room. It's really quite disgusting. Then, it goes down into his chest, and we have to treat him with albuterol via nebulizer for several days, and his cough will last up to 2 weeks sometimes. I've been told he most likely will have problems with asthma, and allergies are horrible on my husband's side. I work at home and send my son next door to a friend's house for the morning. I have a 10-week-old daughter too. I am very busy, and it is frustrating to have to keep him home for several days every 2 weeks because of these nasty colds. My question is this: Does anyone have any tips on things I can do to boost his immune system? I'm already very careful about his diet. He eats very, very healthy foods, no sugar, and I even give him some plain kefir or yogurt once a day. Any recipes for super-healthy, baby-friendly foods? Is there a really good supplement out there that can be given to a 15-month-old? Anyone tried something and found it helpful? Any advice at all is appreciated!

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D.S.

answers from Spartanburg on

My son was breastfed, but from the time he entered daycare, he was at the doctor very ill almost twice a week.
He underwent all kinds of tests - be aware allergy test are not always effective until age 4 - and for food allergies it involves drawing blood (we did not do the food allergy test)
After closely monitoring his food and cutting out and reintroducing items, we took him off all dairy and he is like a new child - we also give him fish oil supplement which is very good for the immune system, and now they have refined ones with flavor, that are much easier to get down.

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T.J.

answers from Indianapolis on

Has anyone suggested to you to try the infant vitamin drops? I gave these to my son when he was little and I really think it helped. He takes daily vitamins now (he's 6) and he rarely gets sick. I didn't breast feed him either. He was formula fed. You can get these at CVS or any drug store or Wal-Mart. Good luck!

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A.

answers from Charleston on

My mother said I was like this as a baby, and they linked it to a milk allergy. They told her to cut ALL milk products out of my diet, and it cleared up. Today I have no problems with milk, but it took a couple of years of milk-free diet. It takes two weeks for it to completely get out of their system, so if you try it, you shouldn't give up too soon.

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L.

answers from Charlotte on

Hi R. -

My mom is a "master herbalist" and has studied nutrition all of her life. She gave me a list of home "remedies" for babies when I had my precious son (now 10 months old). She gave me a recipe for a "healthy punch for children" which supports the immune system, the digestive system and helps fight colds, flu and fever. Mix 1/2 oz each: chamomile, elder flowers, lemon balm, nettles, red clover and spearmint. Pour 2 cups boiling water over 1 Tablespoon of herbal mixture. Steep 7 minutes. Strain. Mix with 2 cups apple, berry or grape juice.

I hope this works for you! Blessings - L.

1 mom found this helpful
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M.

answers from Des Moines on

R.,

I have read a lot of the responses you have received. I am going to suggest something that may seem crazy to you, but it is not. My mother has been an emergency nurse for 30 years. She has seen Western Medicine at it's best and at it's worst. All the suggestions you have gotten are to see an allergist. Great sounds good to pump more medicines into our children. That only treats the symptoms not the problem. Our daughter who is one, had ear infections staring at 6 months. After two treatments with antibiotics someone suggested a pediactric chiropractor. During birth a child can endure subluxations in their spinal cord (which goes up to the neck) which can pinch any one of the nerves that are between each vertebrea. Each nerve is responsible for different parts of the body. The nerve that controls her ears was pinching one of her ear tubes that is suppose to drain any fluid that gets in the ear, from colds, extra saliva. A small and painless adjustment( it only takes 4 oz of pressure to adjustment a infant) relieved the subluxation and no antibiotics were needed. WE only pay $20 a visit and we go once a month to maintain good health. PLease please please find a trusting chiropractor that specializes in children to just at least examine your daughter. You will be surprised!!!!! I have had friends cancel their children's tube surgery after they have visited a chiropractor once or twice. i can send you pamplets if you would like to read them first. I would suggest you find a chiropractor that uses the Gonstead approach. THere can be some bad chiropractors out there just like there are bad doctors. My e-mail is [email protected]____.com, if you want to talk more.
Please know I was very hesitant at first, but trust me this makes since once you read the research! your pediatrician will not support chiropractors just so you know. Western medicind does not teach preventative medicine. They wait until a person has cancer before they treat it!
M.

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C.H.

answers from Charlotte on

hey R. I am the mom of four great kids one of which (my 8 yr old boy) has a type of asthma the doctor called onset asthma, basically he seemes to have a low immune system but anything he gets viral or otherwise goes to his chest, we too kept the nebulizer on hand for a long time,my son even named his( nissy) and was able to hold the tube himself by the time he was 2. now we use the inhalers but he only needs them when he is getting a cold....have you asked your doctor about the different types of asthma?unfortunately they seem to have to grow out of this,we used steriods to help the lungs ( that LOWERS immunities) and vitamins but time and patience was key to our problem, good luck!

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C.C.

answers from Milwaukee on

I am in agreement with the other responses. I have 4 children and have done exclusive breast milk, or breast milk up to 5 months old and then switched to formula, and a combination of the two for the 1st year. This did not affect their immune system.

My second oldest started to get a runny nose and nasal congestion often when he was little. I asked the doctor about it and they suggested that I not give him cow's milk and instead give him soy milk. He will only drink the chocolate kind but it did clear up his runny nose problems. (I also have to drink soy milk because of my adverse reactions to cow's milk.)

With a family history of allergies, you should have him see an allergy specialist. There are alternatives to allergy shots and medication. Certain allergy specialists will give you a series of drops to use to get your body to stop having the reaction to the allergens.

Hope things clear up soon.

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S.L.

answers from Indianapolis on

Hi R.-

I have nothing but sympathy for you! My son is four years old, and between the ages of 3months and 3 1/2 years we had spent at least two to three times a month at the pediatrician's office. He's been the the ear nose and throat specialist, has gone through an adnoidectomy and two sets of tubes in his ears, hospitilized for pneumonia, influenze, and asthma, has had hand foot and mouth three times, chicken pox, throat infections, I mean everything. I have tried everything to keep him well; organic foods, vitamins, milk, no milk, soy milk, every laundry detergent out there. The pediatrician reassured me all the time that he would grow out of it, it was nothing I did wrong by not breast feeding or in caring for him, but that some kids just manage to pick up everything they come by and sometimes, every trick in the book just doesn't help.
Lo and behold, he was right! We have been just a little more than a year without just a few isolated episodes. He is on Singulair to control his asthma and allergies, and also off the nebulizer treatments and onto just a Flovent inhaler and of course the albuterol for back up control.
I guess my point is you can't freak yourself out trying to control something that very well just isn't controllable. I understand the feeling that you have to do something better so he won't be sick, but the stress of that is eventually going to make YOU sick (I know that for a fact). Just caring for them when they are ill is hard enough, don't make it harder. Do right by being a healthy mom so you can take care of the babes when they are sick! Also if you ever need someone to talk to feel free to drop me a line.

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B.S.

answers from Fort Wayne on

I am not a professional, but could he be allergic to milk product?? or anything else??? Have you taken him to a specialist to find out? Sounds like to me allergies.

This somewhat happened with my niece and they found with her sinuses not being fully developed and allergic to animals was a combination.

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W.

answers from Spartanburg on

I'm not sure where you are located, but it may be good to talk to the pediatrician about a consult with 1. an allergist 2. a pulmonologist or 3. an infectious disease specialist We went through this (our son is somewhat better at almost 4 yrs old). We saw all three specialists and now how to treat once symptoms start, what meds work best for him and how to keep him healthy. His episodes are less frequent and the duration of the episodes are shorter.

The bottlefed/breastfed issue is debatable. Some kids are going to have allergy/asthma issues whether you breastfeed them or not.

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M.Z.

answers from Indianapolis on

I have a 2 1/2 year old and could not breast feed her so she was on fomula and she was not a sick child but at the advice of her doctor I gave her vitamin drops and changed over to gummy vitamins when she could chew them up.

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B.D.

answers from Columbia on

Have you looked into allergies? Allergies can cause so much drainage it can lead to ear and sinus infections/illness. It can also lead to the breathing problems. My dd had repeated sinus and ear infections her first 2 years until we got put on a good allergy med. I am not all for meds but I would much rather take a daily prescription allergy med than have her constanty have to be put on antibiotics. Also if he has been on antibiotics many times he may need probiotics to counteract the effects of that. We have also found that hylands cold tablets help to dry them up if they are really gunky which can head off an infection caused by drainage. I usually prefer things to run their course as medicines, especially antibiotics knock off the immune system so sleep and fluids are actually the best treatments for illness as soon as it hits. But if we worry about it I give the cold tablets and if it gets really bad I would rather give an antihistimine than have it turn into an antibiotic needed illness. Some ppl have also had wonderful luck with chiropractic care to treat repeated infections as well as allergies.

But I would mention allergies to the doctor as sounds like that may be the problem. There is a good book called "Is this your child" that talks about allergies in all different ages and ALL the symptoms of allergies not just the sneezing, itchy watery eyes and runny nose.

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K.G.

answers from Lexington on

Have you looked at the household products that you are using? Laundry detergents, even "free" of perfume and baby detergents cause allergies...both skin and respiratory. So does many other cleaning products such as bleach, general purpose cleaners, furniture polish, etc. All of these caused asthma and allergy attacks for me and my family. If you want more information, just private message me and I will respond as I don't want to fill up the board with links and this information:)

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A.D.

answers from Charlotte on

Ear Nose and Throat Specialist. We have 5 children and when dealing with that severe of sinuses, nothing against your Pediatrician, The ENT Dr is better suited on all the up to date meds and treatments because that is their specialty. This way he won't constantly be on antibiotics. My two oldest take Zyrtec once a day and my 3 yr old twins and 16 month old take Claritin liquid (over the counter) daily. Even when problems are not there, as a preventitive. Ask your Peditrician for a referal. Good Luck!

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A.

answers from Indianapolis on

I used a book called "Super Baby Food" that was great. I am not sure if it specifically addresses immune system boosting, but it is a great resource. I also give my son, who gets sick often from daycare, a liquid, baby vitamin supplement from the health food store.

I solved many of my own allergy problems by changing all of my bedding and washing it in hot water with "All Free and clear" once a week. I vaccuum with a hepa filter vaccuum, and run the AC instead of opening windows. I used to have an air filter unit also. It really helped my allergies, which would always lead to terrible colds and sinus infections. Good Luck.

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K.

answers from Des Moines on

R., my advice to you would be to find a naturopath in your area. I know you might think it new-agey or weird, but mine has done wonders for my children as well as our friends. Both of my children were premature, and son was so early he was on oxygen for 6 months. They told me he would have asthma and other chronic lung problems. Today he has none, and he is 5 years old. He gets the occasional cold, but nothing much out of the ordinary. There are several things you can do for him, but I would make sure to contact a naturopath. Chiropractic is also a good tool. Look in your area for someone who practices the Gonstead method. Please don't think this is too far out to try. It's tried and true, although no one in the 'medical' profession will agree. Also... you might find this funny... make sure you house isn't TOO clean. A sterile environment doesn't allow children to build immunities. Good luck!!

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K.F.

answers from Davenport on

Hi R.!

I just noticed one of the replies suggesting chiropractic. I have to say I couldn't agree more. I myself work at a Chiropractic college so needless to say I see and hear amazing testimonies on how chiropractic provides a natural approach to improving your health. I can even give one of my own. I am a mother of four and my third son had this same issue. With consistent chiropractic care, I seen an improvement in his health. I also switched out the cleaning products in our home to non - toxic, more natural products and that did it. He was getting sick with a "cold" or what I thought was a cold about every two weeks too and making those changes have made the difference. No prescription drugs were needed!! It has been 4 months and I have yet to see any symptoms. If you would like to talk privately I am available too. My email address is [email protected]____.com. I hope this helps. I know how frustrating this can be!

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J.J.

answers from Norfolk on

I would try just good plain (bifidus)probiotics in the powder form. Natren is a good brand. You can try giving it to him in water or by the spoon Kefir is good espeically helios brand plain no sugar added, but it is still pasturized cows milk which can eat the stomach lining. Second I would give him a good fish oil (Carlson). My son is 17 months old he has been getting it from day one and the probiotics. He takes it by the spoon. I know this sounds crazy and it might be too much for you, but since you are breastfeeding I would see if he wants to try breastfeeding a couple times a day. I would also check out dr mercola website. He is a DO doctor that is into natural and preventative medicine. www.mercola.com

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S.A.

answers from Columbus on

Hi R.,

There are vitamins that are a liquid that you can put into his milk in the morning. It is just a multi vitamin like you or I would take, but in liquid form. That may work. Also try keeping wet ones or some other wipe to disinfect things in the diaper bag. When you go to the grocery store, wipe the cart handle and the seat area off. Always wipe his hands and mouth. My son was formula fed most of his first year and he has done well.

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H.B.

answers from Charlotte on

I was only able to breastfeed for 6 weeks with my son, but he still is a very healthy child. So, although I am a breastfeeding advocate, I wouldn't blame that on the problems your son is having. Coming from a family with very bad sinus problems, it sounds like it's sinuses to me. I agree with the other responses in that I would take him to a specialist as he could have something wrong with his sinus cavities, etc. Also, I gave my son vitamin drops at that age which seemed to help as well as giving him chewable vitamin C tablets which boost the immune system. If none of this works, you may want to try some alternative therapies such as chiropractic(yes, they work on babies too). This really helps me and my family members with sinuses and respiratory problems.

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A.N.

answers from Charleston on

I have two things that come to mind that might be helpful. The first would be to try a no milk diet (no cheese, yogurt, pretty much anything that contains milk) for a few months to see if that would help. He might not be “allergic” but intolerant and milk products do increase phlegm, so even if he does keep getting sick it might not be as bad.

The other thing would be to look into homeopathic medicine. There are some that you can give your child at the very first signs of illness that would help lessen the duration of it or stop it before. The one that comes to mind and that I’ve used is Aconitum Napellus. A good resource that I love is Smart Medicine for a Healthy Child - Zound, Walton, Roundtree. Good luck :)

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J.K.

answers from Florence on

I don't know about recipes for boosting the immune system but my daughter went through a lot of the same symptoms. I started taking her to a pediatric pulmonologist at 5 months and the allergist came into play not long after that. The best advice I can give you, having suffered with allergies and asthma personally and through my daughter is to find a good doctor. There are things out there that can help. My daughter started with cromolyn on the nebulizer, then switched to pulmicort when she got a little older but we did not get past the steriods and albuterol every month until she was able to take advair. Just thought I would let you know that you are not alone and if I can help in any way I will be glad to. The symptoms you are describing to me are typical allergies. At least all the allergies I have been around. The symptom you didn't mention though was what my Mama called the "seal bark" cough it is very deep sounding... that's when I knew I was in trouble! Of course my daughter would just turn blue. But, anyway, I am very sorry that you, your son, and your family have to go through this. It's not easy to watch. Good Luck!

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A.S.

answers from Fort Wayne on

First off, thank you for the laugh. You are 26 with a 15 year old boy? Boy, you're good! Congratulations on the new baby too!
Anyways, I am 25, and my daughter is 7. She has the same problem. It has been diagnosed as part allergy, part sinus. Besides keeping her on meds all the time, the doctors really didn't have any other suggestions. I know it is not food, but one thing that has helped recently (since she still hasn't grown out of it) is her ionic breeze. Sharper Image has an outlet store, and you can get them for super cheap, but when she leaves the house, it does start back up again, but usually as long as shes not out all day, during the night she tends to clear up again. Just a suggestion..but it has really been a blessing since she started school last year also, because she was bringing home a lot of germs from school too. Good Luck, sorry I didn't have more advice for you.

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B.P.

answers from Owensboro on

I have a 2 yr old son who was breastfed for 2 months. I stopped and switched him to formula when I went back to work. From the time he was a newborn he was always a high maitenance baby. He was not sick once until he was 6 months old and he had an ear infection. But, when he turned a year old he stayed sick. He was in Daycare starting around 14 months old. While I know the daycare was going to contribute to being sick-it was still way more than it should have been. We were at the Dr. office every 2-3 weeks with a "sinus" infection. My dr. had a cat scan done of his sinuses and they did show they were blocked but she said that was pretty normal for a baby since they haven't developed completely. We went to an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist and he scheduled a scoping to make sure he didn't have any blockings (other than mucus) and when he was done he told us everything was completely normal but his adenoids were enlarged. So, we scheduled an appt to have them taken out and every since then we have not been sick once (besides the occasionall stomach virus)! We also went to an allergist that has him on Singulair 1 time a day and Pulmicort one time a day and Atarax 1 time a day. We haven't been sick or to the dr. since Feb! He turned 2 in August and me along with his pediatrician are just amazed at the difference taking the adenoids out have been. Good luck!

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D.P.

answers from Indianapolis on

I would take him to an allergist to have him tested to see what his allergies are. It could be something in the air and they can treat him with allergy meds. And just b/c you formula fed him doesn't mean that is why he is having probs. My oldest did not get breastmilk and she does not have allergies or does she get sick allot. And she is 13. Check at the Vitamin store for vitamin c for children his age. Good luck!

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L.S.

answers from Indianapolis on

Hi R.. My kids are generally very healthy, but something that I did when they started getting the sniffles was to give them echinacea. You can get the little kid-specific tinctures of echinacea and oregon grape root in just about any health food store. (Wild Oats has it, if they are in your area.) Echinacea boosts the immune system and Oregon grape root is a bacteria fighter similar to goldenseal, but more suitable for little one's sensitive bodies (not as harsh as goldenseal). It's worth a shot!

L.

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S.F.

answers from Charlotte on

As others are advising, I too would advise a second opinion and a specialist. This sounds like an allergy - but I'm no specialist. I also found this link for you http://www.thebostonchannel.com/health/4402514/detail.html I hope it's helpful.

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K.

answers from Fort Wayne on

Lots of great advice from lots of experienced moms.

I would also have to encourage you to seek out an allergist. With the frequency of his cold like episodes and the strong family history it sounds like an all together too familiar story.

It's a 30+ test time that was not only suprisingly not too hard on my kids (we've all heard allergy testing stories...) but very enlightening. It would specificially confirm if allergies are the cause and identify whether they are environmental or food based and then you can approach a course of action....like the fabulous air purifiers previously mentioned, trying organic foods or soy based milk or checking cleaning products that you use around him.

Best wishes. We had it rough too for awhile and I'm sorry that I waited till my boys were 3 and 5 before I considered allergies. The past three years have been wonderful now that we know what bothers them and how to deal with those things.

KJ

B.D.

answers from Lexington on

R.,

Congratulations on you new baby girl and successful breastfeeding. I'm sorry that your son is sick so often. As a work-at-home mom of two I understand how busy you are. My best advice is to give your son breastmilk. He can definitely still benefit from it the same as your daughter. If you don't want to try nursing a 15-month old, then pump and give it to him in his cup. As long as you are nursing your daughter on demand and don't already have supply issues, this is the best way to boost your son's immunity. I thought my son was finished nursing just before my daughter was born, but we have tandem nursed on occassion. He is three years old and has never had a cold or ear infection, even though he has many allergies. The doctors are amazed, and we all know it is because of breastfeeding. Good luck!

B.

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