How to Prevent Your Baby From Getting a Cold and The Flu

May 18, 2020

How to Prevent Your Baby From Getting a Cold and The Flu

Babies are extremely vulnerable to illness. What may be a common cold to us can be a life-threatening condition for a newborn baby. Of the deaths that occur in children under the age of five, 41% of these are in the first 28 days of a baby's life. This statistic is alarming for many new parents who just want to keep their babies safe!

Your baby doesn’t have a strong immune system yet, and they haven’t learned that sticking a dirty hand in their mouth is a bad idea. But don't worry, there are plenty of ways to keep your little ones safe. Learn how to prevent your baby from getting the flu with these 10 easy steps.

  1. Ask Visitors to Wash Their Hands

When you have a newborn baby, it's no secret all your friends and family are going to want to stop by, see them, and pick them up or hold them. You love your family and friends, but your baby doesn’t have the antibodies yet to protect themselves against a cold or flu. 

While it's exciting to introduce your new addition to the rest of your loved ones, this is where a host of germs can affect your baby. Before allowing friends and family to hug, hold, or touch your baby, they need to wash their hands first.

To avoid passing their germs, ask them to properly wash their hands before touching your baby. This will reduce the risk of your baby being exposed to harmful bacteria or viruses that could get them sick.

  1. Make Sure Your Visitors Are Vaccinated

Vaccines aren’t just about protecting yourself, they are also about protecting people who are unable to get vaccinated. While babies do receive a Hepatitis B shot shortly after birth, many other vaccinations aren’t given until two months of age. So newborns are still vulnerable to diseases like whooping cough (or “pertussis”) and influenza. 

To help protect your baby, make sure your visitors are vaccinated with all necessary vaccines. Even if they don't plan on touching the baby, they can still spread sicknesses. 

  1. Keep Hand Sanitizer on You at All Times

It’s easy managing and tracking who has touched what  when you’re home alone with your baby. However, once you go outside, it’s not as easy to track exactly who has touched a can of food, opened a door, or sat at a table. 

You wouldn’t let a stranger pick up your baby, and you certainly wouldn’t let your baby lick elevator buttons, so why are you letting a stranger’s dirt, grime, and germs on your hands when you pick up your baby? With so many surfaces to touch and people coming and going, keeping hand sanitizer on you is essential to protect your baby from the cold and flu.

If someone has a virus and touches a surface, that virus can live on that surface for days or even weeks! If you walk by and touch your mouth or your baby's face, you could potentially expose your child to viruses and/or harmful bacteria.

So, keep hand sanitizer nearby and use it before you touch or pick up your little one.

  1. If You're Able To, Breastfeed Your Baby

We know not everyone has the ability to breastfeed their baby, but if you can, take advantage of it. Breastfeeding provides your baby with antibodies that give their immune system a boost to fight off sickness. 

  1. Limit Your Time in Public

One of the most effective ways to prevent your baby from catching the cold and flu is by limiting the amount of time your baby spends in public.

Staying out of public situations helps protect your baby from new viruses or bacteria as their immune system develops. Even if you practice cautionary measures, your child will be vulnerable in public spaces.

Try to avoid busy public locations, especially indoor gatherings, for two months to help protect your baby. After that time, you can visit large social places, but you should still limit your time to reduce the chance of exposure, especially during flu season. 

  1. Stay Away from Sick People

This one may seem obvious, but many of us don't think to isolate babies from all sick people.

This includes you, your spouse, and your other kids. If anyone in your close family has a bad cold, cough, or flu, you should consider distancing your baby from them until they are feeling better. 

Depending on your situation, consider having the sick member of your family go and quarantine with a neighbor or a friend until they are feeling better. Removing the sick person lets your baby stay comfortable at home in an environment they are becoming acquainted with. 

If it’s not possible to move the sick person, consider temporarily living with a healthy family member, friend, or neighbor until your home is safe. While it can be difficult to separate as a family for a few days, sometimes it's a necessary sacrifice for the health of your baby.

The first few months of a baby's life are some of the most vulnerable. Their immune systems are much weaker than ours, so we must take steps to protect them from sickness. If you have a friend or relative coming over to see your baby, make sure they're healthy before entering your home.

  1. Don't Save Unfinished Formula or Milk

Whether you breastfeed or give your baby formula, it's important to dispose of any unfinished milk.

Bacteria from the baby's saliva can get into the bottle, contaminating the entire supply. Don't leave formula out for more than an hour un-refrigerated. Breast milk can be left out for up to six hours, as it contains antibodies that can fight off bacteria.

Perry Mackin’s Silicone Feeding line can help you easily feed your baby and clean up after. Our silicone baby bottles are bacteria-resistant with high-quality silicone that make them more durable and easier to clean.

  1. Clean Your Home

Having a new addition to your family can be hectic. You have to teach your baby simple things like how to go to sleep or drink, and then there are the endless diapers that seem to fill up as soon as you put a new one on. A bit of clutter or mess is going to be expected, but to protect your baby you still need to keep your home clean. 

When you clean your home, use disinfectant cleaners. They will help protect your baby from the cold and flu by removing the bacteria and viruses that make them sick. When you use harsh cleaners, make sure to wash your hands to remove any potential toxic residue.

  1. Get Your Flu Shot

Your newborn can’t get the flu vaccine to protect them from the flu, but you can. By getting the flu shot while you’re pregnant, you can pass the antibodies on to your baby that can last for around six months. The flu mutates and changes each year, so it’s important to get it again to protect your baby. 

As soon as your baby is six months old, they are old enough to get vaccinated for the flu. The CDC recommends everyone, including your six-month-old, get a flu vaccine. The flu vaccine has shown to reduce the risk of going to the doctor by 40 to 60 percent.  

  1. Keep in Close Contact with Your Pediatrician

It’s recommended you visit your pediatrician when your baby is  1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, and 24 months old. While these frequent visits will keep you in close touch with your pediatrician, they should not stop you from reaching out if you notice something wrong with your baby. 

If your child does get sick or shows symptoms of illness, stay in contact with your pediatrician. If you’re not sure if you should bring your baby into your pediatrician’s office, some offices offer a hotline where you can speak to a pediatric nurse around the clock. They can help by offering advice on what you can do to help your baby.

Your pediatrician can walk you through the symptoms to look out for and when they should be brought in. Many parents get nervous about symptoms of illness and end up taking a trip to the emergency room out of caution. To avoid this, keep your pediatrician updated on your child's condition. You should only go to the ER if there is an extreme emergency, like if your child’s temperature is above 102.2 degrees, or if they are having difficulty waking up, difficulty breathing, not urinating, or unable to keep fluids down. 

Talk to your pediatrician when your baby begins showing symptoms. If necessary, bring them in. With the rise of COVID-19, it's important to keep babies away from medical buildings unless they absolutely must go.

How Will You Practice Preventative Measures?

Preventing a baby from being exposed to harmful viruses and bacteria is the most crucial part of keeping them safe.

Coming into contact with infected people or surfaces can be detrimental to their health. Practice the steps listed above to keep your little ones safe.

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