Why Your Toddler is Always Sick

Red velvet cupcakes decorated with a doctor thermometer medicine
Photo clevercupcakes|CC

What happened to my healthy baby?  Does it feel  like your toddler is always sick?

Parents are often shocked and worried with the seemingly endless, yet normal, cycle of sickness which can include seemingly frequent episodes of toddler vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

Children’s immune systems develop rapidly during the first years of life, with toddlerhood being the height of immune system development and childhood sickness.

When children start walking around, they encounter a whole new world of germs.

Reasons Why Toddlers are Always Sick

    • Lack of immunity:  Mothers pass temporary protection from disease (called acquired immunity) through the placenta and via breastmilk to their babies who come into the world without developed immune systems of their own to fight illness and disease. But all children must encounter (become exposed) to diseases in order to train and build their own natural immunity.  Being sick is part of this process.
    • Increased exploration: Babies have limited exposure to the world. They are held by caregivers, bundled up, placed in strollers. But toddlers are on the go, and so are their little hands. Potty training means a whole new exposure to bathroom germs – with frequent toddler vomiting and diarrhea soon follow.
  • Increased interaction with other children: Parents should expect their toddlers to be sick more frequently when they begin interacting more with other children. When having playdates, starting preschool or nursery school, and entering new childcare facilities, toddlers encounter a new world of illness and exposure to disease. This is not bad; it’s part of building a healthy immune system.
  • Differences among children and lifestyles: Just like adults, some children bounce back more quickly from illness, and others take a longer time to recover. Healthy eating, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and exercise, and even a toddler’s personality and temperament can impact how they respond to being sick and how quickly they recover.

Being sick is a toddler’s way of strengthening their immune systems for their future health.

Embracing Toddler Sickness as Part of Healthy Development

Parents should not limit a toddler’s exposure to germs and disease. Eventually all children will become exposed to the classic illnesses of childhood – either via natural exposure or vaccination.

Your toddler is always sick now because this is his first natural exposure to childhood illness, not because there is anything wrong with his immune system.

Building their immune systems during these early years helps prevent future complications of contracting these illnesses later in life when they can have more severe consequences.

The best way to keep children healthy is by following the vaccination schedule recommended by your doctor, frequent hand washing, healthy eating and exercise, and allowing children to time to build healthy immune systems. Always discuss concerns directly with your pediatrician.WHY YOUR TODDLER IS SICK FAMLII