Malaysian Parents Share Their Tips On Strengthening Their Child's Immunity

Here's to happy, strong, and healthy children!

Cover image via Aishah Mustapa (Provided to SAYS) & Chee Mun Wah (Provided to SAYS)

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One of the main priorities for many parents is ensuring their children grow up healthy and strong

As every child grows at their own pace, parents ought to be more attentive towards their children's growth development to ensure growth milestones are on track. At the same time, no mum or dad wants their children to fall sick easily or often too.

With that in mind, we spoke to a few Malaysian parents to find out their way of keeping their children's immune system strong and healthy.

Here's what they had to say:

1. "I make sure my child follows his sleeping schedule so that he will get enough rest for the day and can give his 100% to explore new things"

According to 28-year-old Aishah, health is the most valuable thing that shouldn't be taken for granted, which is why she goes the extra mile in caring for her adorable two-year-old Ahmad Musa, making sure his nutritional needs are met.

"First thing is to know what kinds of food is good for [his growth development], then prepare it in a variety of ways [so that] he'll enjoy eating them. For example, broccoli. He doesn't like to eat broccoli, but I blend it and add it to his favourite meal, chicken curry. Another example: I'd add milk to his puree. I make sure he drinks milk as needed, so that he gets enough of the necessary nutrients," said the Negeri Sembilan native.

Aishah lets Ahmad Musa explore as much as he wants, as long as it's not dangerous because she believes it will help in his physical and mental growth development.

"Sometimes, I get tired because he's too active! But when I think about it, it's actually good that he's active. So, I make sure I get enough rest, usually at the same time he takes his nap. This way, both of us will have energy when it's time for his activities," she explained.

When it comes to taking care of her child's learning and mental growth, Aishah supports her son's developmental milestones with affirmation and love

"I always praise him whenever he achieves something new. I also give him a hug after he does something good. I try my best not to scold him in front of people too. I take him away from the place where he had a tantrum or a fight with another kid and talk to him about his bad behaviour," she shared.

And her biggest advice to other parents for raising healthier, happier, and stronger children?

"I once heard, 'Do not scold your kid before he goes to bed'. So, I make sure everything is fine before he sleeps. Because sleeping is his resting time and he shouldn't sleep with tears or a grudge against me after being scolded for a mistake he made. This is to ensure he will wake up feeling happy the next day."

2. "One of the ways I help my little picky eater is by giving her nutritious food in the forms she likes, i.e. soup and formula milk, or supplements in gummy-form"

Hailing from Klang, Mun Wah is a mum to a three-year-old toddler. Her biggest worry is her child falling sick, especially during flu and stomach flu seasons. So, keeping the house clean and the air purified are other things she does to safeguard her child's health.

"My child is a picky eater and during flu season, it can get pretty challenging. I [ensure her nutritional needs are met] through diet, multi-vit gummies, and formula milk," explained Mun Wah.

"Mental growth-wise, it is done through conversations and encouragement. What delighted me recently was my daughter owning up to her mistakes immediately after spilling her milk and wanting to clean it up herself. I've seen children hiding their mistakes to avoid getting scolded," she shared.

But that's not all. The 34-year-old, who practices respectful (gentle) parenting, finds other ways for a beneficial, holistic approach to her daughter's overall development and wellbeing.

"As we have space restriction living in an apartment, we aim to bring her to open spaces as much as we can to keep her active, and to encourage physical risk-taking and hands-on exploration. We recently took her fishing, which was also my first time — something different from cycling in the park and playing at the playground," said Mun Wah.

She added, "My child picks lots of value through the things she watches and hears. Thus, things like screen time is done together to emphasise on some take-away values. I emphasise on respectful parenting and believe that a child learns and grows when they are heard and seen. Thus, every behaviour change is a sign and message to us parents of their development stage."

Mun Wah puts it best in her advice to other parents, "Being present in our children's life is important — physically, mentally, and emotionally — so that a child-led growth can take place."

3. "I include lots of healthier foods like fresh vegetables and fruits — I've been getting her to love vegetables since young so that she will eat more of them"

As a mother to four-year-old Candice, Veronica is responsive, nurturing, and involved while maintaining a firm stand.

"When it comes to her eating habits, I usually try to get her to eat more vegetables. I always tell her that having more vegetables is good for her health. If you talk about things that I feed her less of, it's usually the typical junk food and snacks. I do give my daughter daily supplements such as probiotics and vitamin C to boost her immune system," shared the 29-year-old from Ipoh.

"While her height and weight are above average for kids of her age, it still falls within the normal range. Plus, I know she eats a healthy, balance diet every day, so I'm not too worried about that," she added.

Besides family trips — mostly outdoors, where Candice gets to play and explore surrounded by nature — Veronica also includes activities like swimming to help her daughter stay active

"Exercise is important. I sign her up for swimming class and other outdoor activities that she would enjoy. I think swimming is particularly beneficial 'cause it can help train her breathing and develop better lung capacity," shared Veronica.

In an effort to raise a happier and healthier child, Veronica tries not to be a 100% strict mum, and instead seeks to understand her daughter's feelings, where they are coming from, and explain things to her in a way she would get it — a piece of advice that other parents can benefit from.

4. "For her dinner, I always feed my daughter enough protein and cooked vegetables or salad. Apples and avocados are a must after dinner too."

"We ensure that she gets enough sleep and always provide her with a very healthy diet. What we usually give her in the morning are cereal, a bottle of milk, and raspberries mixed with grapes," shared 29-year-old mother Josephine, who hails from Sarikei, Sarawak.

Besides paying attention to her four-year-old's diet, Josephine also takes her daughter to the doctor for routine checkups every six months. Sports play a big role in keeping her daughter physically active too.

"Her father is very active in sports. He's always introducing her to different types of exercises [so that she can] work up a sweat. We think it will [help support] a healthy lifestyle, especially in the long run," shared Josephine.

One way Josephine lets her daughter grow in terms of mental development is through play and exploration

"We do not have any specific activities for her development. However, we do always provide her with educational toys. Educational toys can give a big impact on a child's mental development. Plus, kids tend to learn most from what they are playing with in their daily routine. Puzzles and problem-solving toys are really useful," she said.

Josephine's biggest takeaway for parents in similar positions?

She shared, "In order to ensure our children are healthy, happy, and cheerful, we first must ensure that we are physically, mentally, and emotionally ready for whatever comes ahead."

At the end of the day, all parents want the best for their children.

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*Source: Euromonitor International Limited, Dairy Products & Alternatives 2022ed, Groupe Danone in the growing up milk formula category (for children aged 13 months onwards), value sales RSP, 2021 data. Nutricia part of Groupe Danone

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