Six Ways to Keep Baby from Getting Sick
By Elena Donovan Mauer, TheBump.com
During cold and flu season, it's tough enough to keep yourself
healthy, let alone your brand-new baby (with a brand-new immune system).
Use these strategies.
Watch where you take her (at least in the beginning)
We know you want to show off your new baby, but during the first two
months, try not to take her anywhere where there will be crowds of
people. "If a newborn baby gets a fever of 100.4 or higher, she'll have
to go to the hospital and get a complete workup," said Dr. Alanna
Levine, a pediatrician at Orangetown Pediatric Associates in Tappan,
N.Y. So it's just not worth bringing her around all those germs. "Don't
take her to shopping centers or restaurants," said Levine. "Outdoor
spaces are perfectly fine, but you don't want to risk someone coming
over and sticking their face close to the stroller."
Be a nag about hand washing
It may seem paranoid or nitpicky, but it really is important that you
ask anyone who's going to hold your newborn to wash his hands first.
That will help prevent the spread of cold, flu and other viruses to your
little one. If you know family members are sick, ask them to wait until
they're better before they visit with the baby, no matter how excited
they are about it.
Don't stop breastfeeding
On the other hand, if you're nursing and you've got a cold or the
flu, you shouldn't stay away from baby at all. In fact, you should keep
on breastfeeding her, since you'll be giving her antibodies to whatever
you've got through your breast milk. "You've probably passed along
immunity to her," explained Levine.
Vaccinate (we're talking about you)
Babies aren't eligible for the flu shot until they're at least 6
months old. And the whooping cough (aka pertussis) vaccine? Well, it
takes a series of shots before baby is fully immunized. You can help
protect your child, Levine said, by making sure you get a flu shot and a
booster for the pertussis vaccine, if you haven't had one recently
(check with your doctor if you're unsure whether you need one). "Get
immunized soon after delivery," said Levine. "I recommend that anyone
who'll be caring for your baby get immunized too."
Teach your older child what to do
If you've got an older child in day care or school and you're worried
about him bringing germs home, you obviously don't want to do anything
extreme, like send him off to a relative's house for two months or freak
out every time he wants to touch the baby. "You don't want your older
child to feel like they're a threat to the baby," said Levine. "It's
important to be cognizant of his feelings."
Instead, teach him proper infant etiquette: Always wash hands before
holding the baby. Cover sneezes and coughs. Blow your nose into a tissue
and throw it in the trash can. And be sure not to schedule any
playdates at your home until baby's out of the newborn phase.
Play by the rules
Most day cares have specific rules regarding bringing sick kids in
babies may not be allowed back there until they've been fever-free for
at least 24 hours. Rules like this are in place for a reason
illnesses don't spread as easily. Sure, if your kid's the sick one, it
doesn't help you out, but it's important for all parents to respect the
the idea is that at some point, they'll help keep your kid
Have an older baby or toddler? Levine also stresses that making sure
she's eating healthfully
a variety of nutritious foods
enough is important for keeping her healthy. "A 1-year-old should sleep
about 12 to 14 hours combined throughout the day and night," she said.
Of course, that doesn't mean your child will never get sick. "It's
normal for a small child to get about 12 respiratory illnesses in a year
that means your child could be sick as often as once a month,"
explained Levine. "That concerns some parents, but as long as there are
no serious infections, it's nothing to worry about."
(For pregnancy and parenting advice, tools, photos, and more, visit TheBump.com.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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Six Ways to Keep Baby from Getting Sick