When Baby Gets Sick: Part 1 – Prevention

When Baby Gets Sick: Part 1 - PreventionBrace yourselves, parents. Your baby is likely to get sick at some point this fall and winter. In fact, your baby may get sick several times before it’s all said and done. On average, infants have some type of infection around 6 to 12 times in their first year alone. And each could last a week or more. That’s a lot of sick days for your little bundle of joy.

The reason your baby is so incredibly attractive to those pesky microbes that cause infection is because her immune system is quite weak. She doesn’t yet have the antibodies necessary to combat the major germs that she’s exposed to on a regular basis.

Also, it’s not the cold weather that causes babies and children (and adults) to get sick. Rather, it’s that more people are staying inside and spreading microbes in small spaces. With runny noses and coughs spewing germs in every direction and leaving them on surfaces, plus contaminated air being re-circulated within a confined space, your baby is bound to pick something up at some point.

This week we’re helping you manage cold and flu season, from advice on how to prevent sickness, to ways to ease symptoms and when to call the doctor when baby gets sick.

Today is all about prevention so hopefully you can curb some of your baby’s likelihood for illness this season.

There’s no need to be militant about germs in your home but a few simple steps can cut back on a lot of sickness. It’s important to realize that some exposure to microbes is good for your baby’s immune system as it develops and strengthens.

Also, your baby is a baby and she’s going to crawl on the floor, put things in her mouth and do other things that you will find less-than-sanitary and downright disgusting. (Shoe licking, anyone?) Most germ exposures are not likely to land your baby in the hospital. It’s just a matter of doing what is reasonable to protect your baby as much as possible.

Here’s what experts say helps keep babies healthy during cold and flu season:

Breastfeeding

If you want your baby to be 63% less likely to have a cold, ear infection or throat infection this fall and winter, continue breastfeeding. Yes, your simple act of love and nourishment can help keep your baby significantly healthier, according to studies. Plus breastfed babies are less likely to get respiratory and gastrointestinal infections too. So nurse on, strong mamas!

Vaccinate and Flu Shot

Staying on top of recommended vaccinations for your baby and ensuring your baby gets the flu shot (if she’s over 6 months) are two excellent ways of keeping her healthy and preventing sickness. Without vaccinations babies may be at risk for serious and life-threatening illnesses that can be spread through coughing, sneezing, touching exposed surfaces and respiratory droplets.

Limit Exposure

Speaking of coughing and sneezing, keep your baby close and away from anyone who may be sick or spreading germs. Wearing your baby in public is one of the best ways to protect her from airborne exposure. If your baby goes to a daycare, ask about their sick policy and how they keep their facility clean to ensure germs are not repeatedly spread among the children. Also, for the health of your baby, ask friends or family to stay away if they are sick.

Wash Hands

It may not be your first instinct to wash your baby’s hands if she’s not eating solid foods yet but it’s a good idea to take a play break and wash every now and then. One good way to remember is to wash each time you are transitioning from one activity to another. Washing cuts down on an exorbitant amount of germs your baby may put in her mouth, eyes or other orifices, especially if she’s been outside your home.

Wipe Surfaces

Spend a few minutes daily wiping down the surfaces and toys your baby uses most often. Find a baby-safe cleanser and be sure to machine or hand-wash lovies and stuffed animals too. Germs can live on surfaces for many hours so wiping after company has been over is wise.

Sources: Parents, Ask Dr. Sears and Baby Center

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