Keep Your Newborn Healthy During Cold & Flu Season

Protect your newborn from germs this holiday season


 

With winter, comes holiday season, and with holiday season come visitors and gatherings…and with these, unfortunately, come germs. Here are some tips on keeping your new addition germ-free, so you can all enjoy your holiday together.

  • Make sure vaccinations are up to date. You want your infant to be as well protected as possible, so make sure his or her vaccinations are on-schedule. Vaccinations can lower immunity in the short-term, so try to avoid vaccinating in the throws of holiday season. If you can’t get an appointment far enough in advance, talk to your pediatrician about scheduling for January. 
  • Breastfeed, if possible. Breastfeeding builds resistance to sickness and infection early on. If you’re thinking of weaning or switching to formula feeding, try to wait out the holiday period to give your baby the strongest immunity possible. 
  • Unexpected guests. Remind expected gueststhat it would be best if they opted out of visiting if they’re feeling under the weather (blame the pediatrician if necessary!) While you want to see your loved ones, you also want to avoid germs and bugs visiting with them. 
  • Careful kisses. People will be excited to meet your new addition, but best to deflect too much germy affection. Suggest that adults and kids who want to kiss the little one steer clear of baby’s face and hands, and shower their affections on a little bootie or tiny elbow instead. 
  • Hold on. This is a difficult one for parents of newborns always and only harder during cold and flu season. Keep tabs on who’s holding baby. Anyone could be carrying a bug, even if they’re not showing symptoms, especially if they’ve been in daycares, schools or doctor’s offices lately. 
  • Crowd alert. Definitely keep baby away from large crowds and gatherings for the first 3-4 weeks. After that, it’s up to you, though some experts advise avoiding large gatherings for up to the first few months. This means busy malls and populated parties. (Bonus: if you’ve been feeling recuperated, not overdoing it might help you keep your energy and spirits up in the long run.) 
  • Keep your hands clean. It’s such a simple step, but one easy enough to forget in the mix of all of the other things to keep track of. Hand washing is the easiest way to avoid the spread of germs. Ask others to do the same.It might feel mildly awkward the first couple of times you do, but it is entirely reasonable, and important, to ask that other adults and children spending time with your baby wash their hands. Let them know it’s not personal; you’re doing it too. 
  • Keep baby’s room a stable temperature. It’s difficult for babies to adjust to changes in temperature the way an adult can, so best to keep a stable one in your home and especially the nursery. 16-20 degrees Celsius is the ideal temperature for babies to sleep in. 
  • Dress for success. Speaking of temperature, there are also considerations about how to dress your infant for winter. A common rule-of-thumb is that your baby should be wearing one more layer than you are. His or her hands and feet will be colder than the rest of their body, so while being sure to keep those warm too, it’s best to check baby’s temperature on their back, torso or the back of the neck. Sleepers with feet and wearable sleeping bags are ideal for nighttime. Similar sleeping-bag style outerwear is also available for infants.
  • Getting out. Extreme temperatures should be avoided, but otherwise some fresh air daily is best, even if it’s cold. Remember that your baby will get cold faster than you will, because you are moving around and he or she is not. Remember blankets for stroller rides, or you may want to keep your baby bundled up in a carrier to warm up off of your body heat. 
  • Hydration station. However you’re feeding your baby, make sure it’s frequent. Stuffy little noses will make drinking harder, so if your home is dry you may want to invest in a cool mist humidifier to keep his or her nasal passages clear. (They’ll also make it easier for baby to sleep if being stuffed-up has been waking them.) 

While there is an actual science to cold and flu season, it’s also important to trust your gut to some extent. That means if a friend or relative shows up coughing or sniffling and says it’s nothing, it’s still okay that it’s something to you. Keeping your baby healthy through the holidays will give you peace of mind and let you enjoy your newborn’s first festive season.

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