How to keep your Infant Healthy this Winter
While it may be difficult to keep your infant healthy this winter, it’s not impossible.
And assuring your baby’s health is very important because their immune systems are very immature and, at the beginning, have only passive immunity.
Did you know that during the last three months of your pregnancy, your body passed antibodies from you to your baby? This type of immunity is called passive immunity.
But this immunity that infants have when they are born is only temporary. And it begins to decrease after the first month or two.
And keep in mind that premature babies are at higher risk of developing an illness than full term babies.
This is because they didn’t have as many antibodies passed to them when they were in the womb.
So how can you keep your infant healthy this winter?
Women who breastfeed can help their babies stay healthy because breast milk contains antibodies.
So the longer you breastfeed, the longer your baby continues to get this passive immunity discussed above.
2) Before visiting friends and/or family, ask if anyone is sick
The best way to keep your infant healthy is to not be around people you know are sick. But this may not always be a possibility.
Family and friends visit during the holidays and may be around your baby. If you can’t keep sick people away from your little one, following the rest of these tips will help to keep your infant healthy.
3) Wash your infant’s hands as well as your own
Washing your hands with soap and water is the simplest and most effective way of getting rid of germs. Make sure you always wash your hands:
* After you change your baby’s diaper
* After wiping his/her runny nose
* Before cooking or baking
* Before preparing your baby’s bottle
* After coming home from running errands, work, or bringing your baby home from daycare
* Wash your baby’s hands especially after bringing them home from daycare
Make hand washing a rule around the home to cut down on germs that cause colds and the flu. This rule goes for your spouse, other children, and visiting friends or family.
4) Keep your infant at least 6 feet away from someone who is sick
While this isn’t guaranteed to keep your infant healthy, Paul Offit (the chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) says, “Many common winter viruses are airborne, so if your baby takes a breath within, say, 4 to 6 feet of someone who’s sick, he can easily catch the bug himself.”
Even though keeping your baby at least 6 feet away from someone who is sick will decrease the risk of them getting sick, germs can still travel pretty far, especially if the person who is sick is sneezing or coughing. Request that they sneeze or cough into a tissue.
And if a tissue isn’t available for them, it’s been shown that coughing or sneezing into their hands and then immediately washing them, is better than using their elbow. For more information on that, click here and scroll to #4.
Most people love babies which leads to them touching your baby’s hands or cheeks. And you may not always be able to stop them from touching your baby.
But you can exert some control over where they touch. For example, ask that they touch or kiss your baby’s feet instead of face or hands.
This way, they are happy, you’re happy, and it’s less likely that your baby will get sick.
6) Carry hand sanitizer with you
While hand washing with soap and water is best, if you’re somewhere that doesn’t have access to a sink and soap, hand sanitizer is better than nothing.
And if someone else wants to hold your baby, a quick squirt of hand sanitizer is certainly better than nothing.
7) Keep in mind that people are often contagious before they show symptoms
Because of this, it becomes harder to keep your infant healthy.
But by following these tips, such as asking each person to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before touching your baby even if they don’t show any symptoms of being sick, you’ll be giving your infant the best chance at staying healthy.
8) Keep things that go into or near your baby’s mouth clean
While your child is a newborn this will most likely just be a bottle and pacifier. But as they grow, the list of items that they put into their mouth will grow also. So try to keep the following things clean:
* Toys they can grab
* Burp cloths
But even if you follow all of these tips, your baby is bound to get a cold at some point within the first year of his/her life. Don’t panic, getting sick is quite natural and will help build their immune system.
If your baby does become ill, do your best to keep your baby comfortable and know when it’s time to visit the doctor.
And keep in mind that even though colds and the flu are pretty benign in adults and generally pass in several days, the germs that cause colds and the flu can cause bigger problems for infants.
So, be very careful to protect your infant from germs in the first three to six months especially.
And if you have tips not mentioned here that may help other parents keep their infant healthy, leave a comment below!