Babies can easily get a cold or flu, so it’s essential that all care is taken to prevent any of them from striking. Here are several methods that any parent can use to protect their little loved ones from becoming sick.
Having a vaccine is vital and can be given to babies from six months of age. However, if the baby hasn’t reached that age yet, the parents and other family members should be vaccinated to help reduce the risk of exposure. This is even more crucial if the baby’s risk category is high and he has a chronic lung or heart condition (asthma fits in this category), kidney disease, severe anemia, diabetes or a suppressed immune system.
Pregnant mothers and new mothers should also be vaccinated. If a woman is pregnant and has the flu shot, the antibodies will be passed onto the fetus and it should protect that fetus for around six months. They should also get a vaccine for whooping cough when they are between 27-36 weeks pregnant, to avoid passing that disease onto the fetus.
Good hygiene (especially in the home) is essential. The family members must wash their hands as often as necessary, especially before and after touching the baby. The baby should be washed thoroughly. The hands must be washed in warm, soapy water. An alcohol-based sanitizer for hands can be a good alternative if the soapy water isn’t available (for example, if the mother and baby are out).
Cover sneezes and coughs with a disposable tissue, and then toss it straight in the bin. Parents mustn’t touch their mouth, nose and eyes when handling the baby, to avoid the spread of germs.
Keep the baby away from sick people. If a person in the house is sick, that person should be kept as far away from the baby as possible. This will reduce the risk of the baby getting sick. Avoid having any sick visitors, regardless of who they are, for the same reason.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of colds, flu, throat, ear infections and other health related problems by up to 63%. This only works if the babies are exclusively breastfed during their first six months of life (or more).
Pediatrician appointments. When seeing your pediatrician, try to get the first or last appointment for that day. This will reduce the risk of coming in contact with other sick babies. If this isn’t possible, the parent can ask to wait in an exam room or office, away from other patients.
Mothers must care for their own health as well. Newborns often wake multiple times during each night, so it can be hard for the mother to get enough rest. This is where naps are important. If the mothers can have naps during the day, it will boost their immune system and protect them from getting sick, and then possibly passing on that sickness to their babies.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of ways to protect babies from getting sick, it is definitely a good start. If parents put these steps into practice as part of their daily routine, their babies will stand a better chance of remaining healthy.