Seeing your little one come down with a stuffy nose or an ear infection can be devastating. As your baby becomes more active and is around more people, the risk for contracting contagious illnesses increases – especially if they are in daycare or have older sisters or brothers. But colds and other bugs are part of growing up. And unfortunately, it is not practical for baby to live in a bubble. While there is no magic solution to keeping baby healthy, there are some things you can do to minimize the chance of illness. And rest assured, for most kids, their immune system will get stronger and they will grow out of the frequent illness stage.
If you decided to breastfeed (or if your baby will drink breast milk) you’re in luck! Breastfeeding will provide your baby with antibodies and enzymes that can help protect baby from getting sick.
Become a Hand Washing Household
The best defense against getting sick is good hand washing. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water – frequently. And always wash your hands before handling baby or any of baby’s things.
Also, if you have other children be sure to teach them good handwashing practices. Try to emphasize how important handwashing is now that they have a new baby sister or brother.
And don’t forget about baby’s hands. Be sure to wash them regularly too.
Clean Baby’s Bottle Properly
Formula and breast milk can be easily contaminated if they are not handled properly. Before using a new bottle be sure to sterilize. After that, clean bottles daily using soap, hot water and a bottle brush.
If baby is sick, be sure to sterilize baby’s bottles so you don’t risk reinfection.
Limit Contact with the Unhealthy
If possible, try to keep your baby away from people who are sick, including yourself! If you’re sick, see if a friend or family member can help you care for baby. And try to limit contact until you are feeling better.
If you are breastfeeding, keep breastfeeding. Continuing to breastfeed can help protect baby from the infection you are fighting. But be sure to practice good hygiene and limit close contact. You may even want to consider wearing a facemask while nursing. Another option is to pump and have someone else do the feeding.
If you are breastfeeding, before you start taking any over the counter or prescription medicines, be sure to run it past your doctor.
Stay Up to Date with Vaccinations
Make sure to stay current on baby’s vaccinations and stick to the schedule recommended by baby’s pediatrician. Once he or she is six months old, be sure to take them for their yearly flu shot.
But vaccination rules don’t only apply to baby. Everyone in the household and any close friends or relatives should make sure they are up to date on their immunizations and have received their yearly flu shot.
Follow the Rules
If baby or any of baby’s siblings go to day care, ask about the attendance rules related to sick children. Speak up if you see that the rules aren’t being followed and abide by the rules yourself.
Practice Healthy Habits
It is more important than ever that the whole family practice healthy habits – exercising, eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water and get the recommended amount of sleep.
Always call your pediatrician or seek medical care if baby:
- Has a fever
- Seems sick
- Isn’t eating
- Has diarrhea or vomiting
- Has sudden trouble sleeping
When speaking with your child’s pediatrician, try to be as prepared as possible. Consider taking notes about your questions, concerns and any worrisome symptoms or events. When describing what is wrong with baby, the more specific you can be, the more helpful you will be to the doctor in assessing your child’s health. And lastly, trust in your pediatrician’s diagnosis. The internet is full of misinformation and overprescribing of medicine can have consequences.