The flu, as we all know too well, takes no mercy on its victims.
And influenza is hardest on its most vulnerable targets: infants and toddlers.
It’s a hard, cold, fact of life that your baby will get a cold at some point of this winter’s ruthless cold and flu season. After all, babies love to touch everything within reach as they explore the world, and pretty much everything they touch winds up in their mouth.
“Babies’ immune systems are immature, which makes them susceptible to the more than 200 different viruses that cause the common cold,” Healthy Women’s Vera Sizensky stresses.
Here are some tips that can help your baby enjoy a healthier cold and flu season:
Be On Early High Alert: A baby is never more vulnerable to influenza than those first months before his or her immunizations. Parents need to make sure they have every defense up. Keep babies younger than two months away from crowded places like malls, grocery stores and sporting events. For babies past their two month birthday, make sure they are covered when visiting public places and away from strangers, who should be kept at least six feet away.
“Until your baby has his first round of shots at two months, you should be extra cautious,” Dr. Mary Ian McAteer, an Indianapolis-based pediatrician, told Parents.com.
Always Travel Armed: Germs can live for hours on anything, including shopping carts. Make certain to wipe things down before you use them. If you are unable to wash your hands, hand sanitizer is a Jedi Knight of baby germ protection.
No Sick Guests Policy: We get it, newborn babies are rock stars with more fans than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. But whether Grandpa Joe is battling a mild cold or Aunt Martha is getting over bronchitis, both beloved family members have to be put on the Baby Black List until their symptoms subside. Don’t make exceptions for anyone. Anyone coming in contact with your baby should be fever-free for at least 24 hours before visiting.
Follow The Vaccinated Truth: While babies can’t get the flu vaccine until they are six months old, every parent should get vaccinated early in the season at the first opportunity. It is especially vital for expecting mothers to get the flu shot, for they pass antibodies onto their babies that can last up to six months.
Behold The Power of Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding can boost babies’ immune systems, and there’s nothing better for them than mom’s natural milk.
Don’t Be Spooked By The Inevitable Cold: The world’s best parents can’t protect their children from the hundreds of viruses taking aim at them during their first few months of life. Colds (which average a 100.4 degree temperature) will come and go, it’s how you treat them that determines how quickly your baby returns to his or her happy, smiling self. Regular sleep and proper nutrition can help babies beat the colds they are naturally bound to have.
“In the first year, babies come down with about six to 12 infections, most lasting seven to 10 days,” Dr. Mary Anne Jackson told Parents.com. “That’s up to 120 days of the year they may be sick.”
Remember, the flu is deadly (claiming the lives of 270 Iowans last season alone) in newborns, especially during this season that Fatherly.com predicts “will come in like a lion and go out like a lion.”
Take no chances and no short cuts when it comes to protecting the love of your life from the dangerous threats posed by influenza. As Dr. Dan Jernigan, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Controls’ influenza branch notes, “flu is everywhere in the U.S. right now.”