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The colder seasons can be a stressful time for new parents trying to keep their babies healthy. Babies’ immune systems are still developing and not as resilient to common illnesses that would otherwise be minor to a healthy adult. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent germs from spreading and infecting your baby. Here are some tips to keep your baby healthy this cold and flu season.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents of newborns to avoid crowds to help babies stay healthy. Even a common cold could land a young baby in the hospital if their fever exceeds 100.4 degrees. While it’s not necessary to stay home 24/7, try to avoid crowded places with baby until the cold and flu season passes and baby is a bit older.
The single most effective way to prevent the spread of germs is washing your hands. Make it a habit to wash as soon as you come home, before and after you eat, after you use the restroom, or after you come in contact or handle anything that could be germy. Remember the rule of handwashing is to wash for 20 seconds or enough time to sing the “happy birthday” song twice, with warm water and soap.
You may be in a hurry, but don’t forget to wipe down the cart handle and seat at the store before you put baby in or touch it yourself. Most stores offer complimentary antibacterial wipes, but if not you should keep some of your own handy to wipe down germy surfaces while you’re out and about.
Although babies under 6 months old cannot get a flu shot, you can protect your baby by getting the shot yourself, and having your other family members who are old enough vaccinated, as well. Stop the germs from infecting anyone in your family and potentially spreading to your baby by getting the flu shot early in the season. Also, keep in mind that even pregnant women can get the flu shot.
Children seem to get sick more often than adults, and this is largely due to them sharing objects without an awareness of the germs they’re also sharing. If you have another sick family member or someone that has recently become sick was in your home, use a bleach solution to disinfect toys, doorknobs, counters, and other common surfaces and areas of high-traffic. Remember not to share dishes, cups, or utensils.
If you’re breastfeeding, continue to do so even if you’re also sick. Breastfeeding can help boost your baby’s immune system and even pass the antibodies against the illness that your body may have developed to your baby. If your baby is old enough, ensure they are getting an adequate intake of fruits and vegetables, and staying hydrated. Don’t forget to keep yourself healthy also by eating nutritiously, exercising, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep.
What tips would you share to new parents to help them keep their babies healthy during the flu and cold season?