Skip to main content

Immune Support for Kids: How to Support Your Child’s Immune System

Mother hugs pre-teen daughter in kitchen

As a parent or caregiver, you want your child to be at their best. That’s why it’s important to support your child’s immune system by promoting lifelong daily healthy behaviors, like eating well. Keep reading to learn more about how the immune system works and find out how a well-balanced diet paired with supplements can help support your child’s immune system.


What Is the Immune System?

The immune system is responsible for keeping you healthy.1,2 It's made up of organs, tissues, and cells that work together to help make up and support your immune system.


What Makes Up Your Child’s Immune System?

Your child’s immune system is a vast network of systems and parts that all work together to support your little one.


Types of Immune Systems

The different types of immune system that are found in children are:1,2,3,4


  • The innate immune system. This is the immune system that your child is born with.1 It is the first system to respond when their body encounters an invader.1 For example, your child's skin and mucous membranes that line the respiratory and G-I tracts are physical barriers and part of the innate immune system.2
  • The adaptive, or acquired, immune system. This immune system develops as your child gets older and is exposed to microbes.2 In this immune system, the B lymphocytes create the antibodies that protect your child if the threat returns to attack their body.2
  • The passive immune system. This is a temporary immune system that your child gets from sources like the placenta and breast milk.10 The placenta provides your child with antibodies that they have when you give birth.10 After your child is born, breast milk delivers protective assistance in the form of antibodies.10


What Makes Up Your Child’s Immune System


  • Adenoids and tonsils are located at the back of your throat and nasal passage.1 They work to trap foreign bodies when they enter your body and produce their own antibodies.3
  • Bone marrow that is found in the center of your child’s bones creates blood cells, including white blood cells which support the immune system.3
  • The spleen acts as a storage facility for your child’s white blood cells as well as a filter that eliminates damaged and older blood cells, so that new blood cells can take their place.3
  • The thymus is composed of the two lobes that are connected behind your breastbone.2 It helps to create a specific type of white blood cell that identifies and remembers each type of invader within your child’s body so that an appropriate response can be mounted the next time that same invader is encountered.1,3,6
  • Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped organs that work as filters for foreign substances in your child’s body.1,3,5


Blood Cells and Your Child’s Immune System

You might already know that your white blood cells play an important role in the grand scheme of the immune system, now let’s learn a little more about the different types of blood cells that work in your child’s body.

Two types of white blood cells that help your immune system are phagocytes and lymphocytes.4,6 Phagocytes help the body defend against foreign invaders.1,4,6 Lymphocytes are like the body’s “memory” that tell the immune system to destroy things that have been harmful in the past.1,4,6

There are two types of lymphocytes: B and T lymphocytes.1,6


  • B lymphocytes are located within the bone marrow and create antibodies which bind to foreign substances and neutralize them.1,6
  • T lymphocytes are located in the thymus gland and destroy harmful irritants that have been found by the B lymphocytes.1,6


How to Support Your Child's Immune System

There are numerous ways you can help support your child’s immune system development as they grow. One of the best ways to provide support for your child’s immune system is to make sure they eat a well-balanced diet with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables. Serve foods that provide nutrients like zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, folate, magnesium, manganese, and vitamins A, C, D, E, B2, B6, and K.7,8

Other ways to support your child’s immune system include:3


  • Making sure your child gets enough sleep so their body can rest.
  • Encouraging your child to exercise.
  • Helping your child manage their stress levels through deep breathing and talking about their feelings.


Vitamin C and Immune Support

Vitamin C is one of the many nutrients that supports your child’s immune system.7,8 The human body doesn’t produce vitamin C on its own, so your child can get it from foods like citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, broccoli, and spinach.7,8

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which helps to protect cells from damage and damage from free radicals.8 Other ways that vitamin C can help support your child’s immune system include:8,9


  • Increasing the production of collagen, which helps keep your child’s skin healthy, which is important in wound healing.
  • Stimulating the production and migration of white blood cells.
  • Support overall immune cell functions.


If you’re concerned that your child isn’t getting enough vitamin C or other essential nutrients, speak with their pediatrician or healthcare provider about supplementing their diet. Dietary supplements can help kids get nutrients they need to help support their immune system.

Supporting your kid’s immune systems can seem like a full-time job. Once you have a better understanding of how to support their immune systems, you can help your kids make good choices that keep them at their best.

Source Citations:

  1. Immune System. John Hopkins Medicine: John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Accessed 8/22/23.
  2. The Immune System. Stanford Children’s Health: Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. Accessed 8/22/23.
  3. What is the immune system? Cleveland Clinic. Accessed 8/22/23.
  4. Your Immune System. Nemours KidsHealth. Accessed 8/22/23.
  5. Lymph Nodes Definition and Examples. Biology Online. Accessed 04/04/2024.
  6. T cells, B cells and the immune system. University of Texas. Accessed 8/22/23.
  7. How to Boost Your Kid’s Immunity Heading Into the New School Year. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed 09/07/21.
  8. 5 Vitamins That Are Best for Boosting Your Immunity. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed 8/23/23.
  9. Vitamin C and Immune Function. National Library of Medicine. Accessed 8/23/23.
  10. Types of Immunity. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Accessed 1/9/24.