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Germs, Grime, and Sneezes, Oh My! Keep Your Baby Healthy This Winter

January 28, 2013

iStock_000015808098SmallBetween reports of one of the most pervasive flu seasons on record, a norovirus outbreak, and the various colds and other bugs that are running rampant through schools, daycares, doctor’s offices, and workplaces, a new parent could find herself pretty freaked out right about now! You’ll want to protect your new baby from the various germs in circulation right now, and we have are a few tips that will keep your family healthy this season.

  1. Breastfeeding. It is well-documented that breastfeeding boosts your baby’s immune system, as your breast milk contains antibodies that protect against viruses you’ve already fought off throughout your life. Even supplementing formula with breastmilk is better than not breastfeeding at all. And feeding your baby colostrum in the days just after birth can do a lot to foster immunity.
  2. Get vaccinated. When your baby is born, he may be vaccinated for diptheria, tetanus and pertussis. This vaccine is particularly important, as pertussis (whooping cough) is highly contagious; several communities in the U.S. have endured outbreaks in recent years. Your baby can also be vaccinated against rotavirus, a common stomach bug, and may receive a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against bacterial pneumonia. After the age of six months, babes may be vaccinated against the flu as well.
  3. Socialize at your own risk. Keep your new baby away from large crowds in enclosed spaces during those first few weeks and months. Viral particles from coughs and sneezes can travel quite a distance, and your baby can be exposed to a number of different germs in a crowded environment. If any friends or family members have been ill, ask them to refrain from holding or kissing your baby until they are well. And it’s advisable to allow toddlers to smile and wave to your baby rather than kiss and touch. We all know what germ-carriers the typical two year-old can be!
  4. Wash hands frequently. You and your partner should always wash your hands after coming home from being outside. Use plenty of soap and rub your hands together vigorously for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” in your head for the most thorough cleaning. And if you do get sick, wash your hands before changing or feeding your baby to lessen the chances that you’ll infect him.
  5. Keep toys clean. The toys that accompany your baby into public should be washed or wiped down with antibacterial wipes when you get home. Those toys are often thrown on the ground and can pick up plenty of germs. The same goes for pacifiers and teething rings.

With a little diligence and a healthy dose of germaphobia, you can do quite a bit to protect your little one from the cold, flu, and other viral germs that are circulating this season. Stock up on hand sanitizer and keep your pediatrician’s number handy!


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