9 Tips to Prevent Your Baby from Getting the Flu
Can you hear it?
The sniffling, coughing and the groaning from aching muscles and headaches.
We’re in the middle of winter and with that, in the middle of flu season.
Although the flu is unpleasant for anyone to get, it can be more of a danger to babies.
In this post, we’re sharing 9 ways you can prevent your newborn from getting the flu.
What is the Flu?
When you think of the flu, you probably think of some cold symptoms and vomiting that go away after a few days. However, it’s possible for the illness to last longer and turn into something more serious, sometimes (but rarely) resulting in death. Elder people and babies are at a higher risk for flu complications. In fact, the flu caused a record number of child deaths in 2017, according to the March of Dimes. This is why it’s important to do your best to prevent influenza in the first place.
Although we say “the flu,” influenza is actually a variety of viruses that change each year. This is why the influenza vaccine is updated every year to target a couple of viruses they predict will be the most common. Flu season lasts from October to May and are the months that people tend to get sick.
How Does the Flu Spread?
To prevent the flu, we first need to understand how it spreads.
Influenza spreads when infected germs and bacteria transfer to another person. These may be transferred through:
- Touch— When a sick person touches something and your baby touches it and then touches his nose, mouth or eyes, the bacteria can enter his system.
- Air— Although harder to control, bacteria can spread when a person with the flu coughs, sneezes or even talks. If your baby breathes in the air, he can also become infected.
How to Prevent Your Baby from Getting the Flu
Here are 9 ways you can keep your baby healthy during flu season.
#1 Flu Shot
When it comes to flu prevention for newborns, your first thought may be to get your baby the flu shot. However, this is only a good idea for babies 6 months and older. There’s still a way the vaccine could help your newborn though: by getting it yourself. If you and your partner haven’t already, plan a day to get your flu shot. In case you’re wondering, it’s safe to get during pregnancy. Your baby can also benefit if other people close to him (such as grandparents or babysitters) also are vaccinated. Learn more about getting your flu shot during pregnancy here.
When your baby turns 6 months old, he should start getting his flu shot. It’s best to get it before the flu season starts in October. However, getting it during the season is better than not getting it at all. The first time he gets his vaccine, he will get two doses. This will be followed by a single dose every year.
#2 Use the Snotty Buddy
If your baby has congestion, you don’t want it to turn into a full blown flu. A good way to prevent this is to remove the bacteria that is already there. This can help your newborn breathe better and heal faster.
The Snotty Buddy is a nasal aspirator/baby snot remover. Simply insert the mouthpiece into your mouth and put the other end of the tube inside your baby’s nose. Swiftly inhale through your mouth and see the mucus captured inside the tube.
Unlike the typical bulb syringe the hospital gives you, this snot sucker is easier to use and relieves more congestion. It’s also easy to clean after every use. The replaceable filters stop any mucus from entering your mouth, preventing the spread of germs. You can easily take it apart to safely dispose of the mucus and wash.
#3 Stay Away from Sick People
This tip is pretty obvious, but how often do you follow it? If you already know someone has the flu, you can simply avoid them and offer to see them when they’re feeling better. But if someone comes to visit the baby and you discover they’re sick, you may feel bad turning them away. Even if they don’t hold your newborn, they can still transfer bacteria through the air. So what do you do? Here’s some ways you can keep sick people away from your baby without feeling rude.
- Since the flu is common, people may know they’re sick but not make a big deal out of it. They simply may not realize that it poses a larger risk to babies, so you can explain it to them. Tell them you’re a cautious mother and you read that influenza can be serious for babies, so you’re afraid to take the risk around coughing, sneezing, etc.
- Ask them if they’re sick. When they say yes, tell them your baby has a little cough and you don’t want him to get sicker, so you think it’s a good idea to avoid getting too close. Say it’s okay to look but not touch.
- Blame the doctor. Tell your friend that the doctor said you shouldn’t allow any sick people to hold him in case germs spread.
- Tell them it’s time for your baby to take a nap. Lay him down and take your friend into the other room, away from your baby.
- When sick people (or anyone) enters your home, offer them hand sanitizer. You may choose to keep it by the front door since some people will intuitively take a squirt as they would in a hospital setting.
#4 No Mouth Kisses
Want to give some love to your newborn? Avoid kissing him on or near the mouth. Even if you’re not sick, you don’t know what bacteria is lingering, so it’s better to be safe. Instead, give your newborn a nice warm hug.
#5 Avoid Crowds
In the first couple of months, it’s a good idea to keep your baby away from crowds where germs are festering. Babies are more susceptible to illness at this time, so you may want your baby to stay in environments you can control (such as your home). When you do go out, try to stay a few feet away from people when possible. Either have your newborn in a carrier or in a stroller with the canopy down. Strangers are less likely to touch or talk to your baby if they can’t see him.
#6 Limit Family Sickness
If someone in your home is sick, it’s okay, it happens. But they’ll need to take extra caution now that there’s a newborn around. Ensure that they’re sneezing and coughing into their arm or a tissue. When they use tissues, ask that they throw them into the garbage straight away instead of putting them on a table, causing bacteria to spread. If they can, they should limit their contact with the baby. If they can’t, ask that they thoroughly wash their hands before touching the newborn or any of his items.
#7 Give Baby His Own Stuff
You probably weren’t going to eat with baby utensils anyway, but here’s your warning just in case. When your baby starts eating solids, give him his own dishes, cups, utensils, etc. Don’t allow any family member to share his stuff in case they spread germs. Also, wash these items with hot, soapy water (or a dishwasher) after each use.
#8 Hand Washing
Wash your hands after you use the washroom, change a diaper or touch a doorknob. Also, give them a wash before you prepare food, eat or touch your baby. Encourage everyone in your home to do the same. When you leave the house, bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you in case you don’t have access to a sink.
#9 Sanitize Items and Surfaces
Frequently washing your hands isn’t going to prevent much if you’re touching dirty surfaces afterward. Make it a point to wipe down your kitchen counter, bathroom counter, and coffee tables more often during flu season. Items that are touched a lot—such as phones and remotes—can be quickly sanitized using a wipe. Consider buying a few packs and keeping one in each room for convenience.
It’s also a good idea to wipe down the crib railings from time to time since they can also collect bacteria. If your baby has started crawling, clean the floors more frequently (sweep and mop or vacuum). After he’s done crawling, clean his hands before he puts them into his mouth.
How do you prevent your baby from getting the flu? Comment any tips you have below! If you have any mother friends, be sure to share this post with them, too!
P.S. Have you picked up our Snotty Buddy yet? It’s an essential for every parent who is tired of hassling to clean their baby’s nose. Compared to other products, it gets out more mucus in less time, leading to a happier baby. Oh, and it’s only $15. Check out the snot sucker here.