Cold and flu season has arrived. In the months ahead, illnesses ranging from a case of the sniffles to a full-blown episode of the flu with its potentially dangerous high fever will be passed from person to person. As trusted experts in the field of pediatrics, we like to point out that while there is nothing you can do to guarantee your baby won’t get sick, there are ways to minimize the risk.
How to Keep Bugs at Bay during Cold and Flu Season
To help keep your baby from getting seriously ill this winter, try these strategies:
- Educate your older children on disease prevention. Make this a fun lesson! Challenge them to sneeze or cough into their elbow, avoid sharing food or beverages with classmates, never touch their mouth to the water fountain spigot, never share lip balm and wash their hands thoroughly after using the restroom.
- Institute a “no shoes” policy. A baby crawling on the floor will come into contact with whatever is tracked into the house on the bottom of family members’ shoes. Have people kick off their footwear near the door.
- Have older children clean up when they get home. As your children arrive home from school, have them change into different clothes and thoroughly wash their hands and face before holding or playing with the baby.
- Ask sick people to visit another time. As anyone in pediatrics will tell you, it’s important to prioritize your baby’s health over being welcoming. If your child’s friend would like to come over for a play date but is sneezing and coughing, politely ask the child’s parent if you can reschedule.
- Ensure your baby gets fresh air and sunlight each day. Vitamin D, which the body produces when exposed to sunlight, plays an important role in your baby’s immune response. Be sure to get appropriately bundled up and head outside every day.
- Wash bedding frequently. Washing sheets, pillowcases and bath towels more often than you might in the summertime can help remove the germs they can harbor.
- Replace toothbrushes. Every few months, or after your family has recovered from illness, it’s a good idea to get everyone a new toothbrush.
- Wipe down door knobs, light switches, etc. Periodically use disinfecting wipes to clean frequently touched surfaces where germs are likely to be passed from one person to another.
- Stay healthy yourself. As one of your baby’s primary caregiver, it’s important that your immune system is in high gear during the winter months. This means you should get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise.
It’s important to note that exposure to pathogens is, ultimately, an important part of building up immunity to them. So, you don’t want to completely isolate your baby. But, taking action to protect them somewhat from the onslaught of bugs in the winter months is a good idea.
Simple Steps can Make a Big Difference
Some people feel that it’s inevitable that every family member will get sick at least once (if not multiple times) during cold and flu season. However, at our pediatrics practice we know that taking the steps above can greatly reduce the risk of catching a bug. Have a question about disease prevention or want to make an appointment? You can reach us at 303-430-0823.