As parents, few things are worse than when your baby gets sick. The baby is miserable, you’re miserable, and it can feel like there is no end in sight. If you are one of those lucky parents that have a baby that never gets sick, then there must be something you’re doing right, but maybe you aren’t quite sure what that is. It’s always possible that you’re doing something instinctively without realizing how important it is. Here are a few ways to ensure that your baby stays as healthy as possible.
1. Insist on handwashing
Make sure that everyone that interacts with your baby washes their hands first. Handwashing is a skill that everyone needs to practice, probably more often than they do. A person’s hands are the most germ covered part of their body so it’s perfectly reasonable for you to expect a thorough hand washing before letting someone hold or play with your baby. This is especially important when your baby is younger than three months when their immune systems are the weakest. It’s not only important to make sure that you and your guests stay on top of their handwashing, but make sure you are keeping your baby’s hands clean as well once they start grabbing at things and putting their fingers in their mouths.
2. Vaccinate (yourself!)
Getting your flu shot and pertussis boosters don’t just protect you. The flu is a miserable and potentially dangerous illness for a healthy adult. For a baby, it is far more serious. Your baby cannot be immunized against the flu until they are older than six months, and the pertussis vaccine takes multiple doses to offer immunity. Ensuring that you have these shots will help provide your baby with some protection against these illnesses.
3. Keep to your vaccine schedule
Vaccine schedules are created by professionals at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to protect your baby best. The CDC recommends a vaccine schedule based on extensive research by medical professionals. You must keep to the schedule to ensure that your baby’s immunities are being properly built. As parents, it can sometimes see beyond the immediate effects of the vaccine. Many babies can appear to get a little sick or get a fever when they receive a vaccine. It certainly doesn’t feel good to be poked, and they will probably cry and be cranky for a day or two. These are normal reactions, but these are short term reactions, and the long term benefit far outweighs them.
4. Keep breastfeeding
Breastfeeding offers your baby some of your antibodies and can help improve their immune system. It may not surprise you to know that breastfeeding improves your baby’s immune system. What you may not realize is that you should continue breastfeeding even when you are sick! You are unlikely to pass the illness onto your baby because you will be passing the antibodies that your body is already producing to fight your illness onto your baby at the same time. You should always consult your pediatrician or your doctor for information where the health of your baby is concerned.
5. Screen your baby’s guests
Not letting too many people get up close and personal with your baby helps to keep the germs away. It’s easy math that the more people that visit your baby, hold them, kiss them, the more germs they will be introduced to. Especially when your baby is younger than six months old, limiting their exposure to germs goes a long way to keeping them healthy. It is perfectly reasonable that you expect all guests to wash their hands before touching the baby. If anyone looks like they may have the sniffles or are looking under the weather, it’s a good idea not to let them interact. Something that you might not have considered is asking the people that will be around your baby with any consistency to make sure they are up to date on all of their vaccines. A lot of people don’t realize that there are vaccine boosters they should be getting into adulthood.
6. Don’t over sanitize
Keeping your baby and their things clean is important, but don’t worry about sanitizing everything that they come into contact with. If no one in your house is sick, then most surfaces that are kept clean do not pose a threat to your baby. Especially once your baby is older than six months, they need to be introduced to everyday germs to keep their immune systems healthy.
7. Monitor the health of care providers
You rely on caregivers of all kinds to take care of your baby when you can’t be there. Whether this is a daycare, a babysitter, or a family member, anyone who takes care of your baby should be healthy. It can be very hard on you if your usual care providers get sick, but keeping your baby away will help keep them healthy. Talk to your baby’s daycare about their sick teachers and sick babies’ policies and make sure that you play by the rules and keep your baby out of daycare when they are sick.
Keeping your baby healthy is one of your major concerns as a parent. Some babies just seem to be healthier than others by nature, but even a healthy baby can get sick if their parent doesn’t take steps to help them stay that way. It can be a bit overwhelming as a parent to try and predict what angle germs may be coming from, and you can start to feel a little paranoid. Don’t worry, a lot of your instincts are right and you should trust them. Most of these tips are common sense and things you are probably already doing, but hopefully, there was something here that you may not have thought of that can help you keep your baby healthy.