Coughing, sneezing, a runny nose and added fatigue don’t help when you’re already running on no-sleep as the mother of a baby.
You know what’s even worse?
If your baby also catches your cold.
But we’re aiming to prevent that in this post. We’re sharing 8 ways you can keep your baby healthy and prevent her from getting your illness—even in the middle of flu season.
Can I Prevent My Baby from Getting My Cold?
Despite your best efforts, there’s no way to fully prevent your baby from getting the cold, even if you don’t have one yourself.
If you or anyone who comes in contact with the baby is sick, her odds of catching it are higher. With that being said, there are a variety of precautions you can take to minimize the chances of transferring bacteria.
If your baby also catches a cold, you should know that it’s common and usually not dangerous. However, since colds can escalate quickly for babies, you should keep an eye on it. Her cold should be gone in about a week or less, but if she’s under 2 months and has a fever, you should contact your pediatrician.
#1 Continue Breastfeeding
You may already know that breastfeeding provides a variety of benefits to both mom and baby—and those advantages can help when it comes to common illness, too!
Babies who are breastfed tend to get sick less often and recover faster than those who are formula-fed. Thanks to your milk’s antiviral and antibacterial properties, it lowers her chances of catching a cold, flu, ear infection or getting diarrhea.
Some mothers worry that continuing to nurse their baby while they’re sick may transfer the bacteria. While there’s precautions you should take (as outlined in this post), it’s actually beneficial for her. Interestingly, when you’re sick, you produce antibodies to combat that illness. These antibodies are then transferred onto your baby through breastmilk, helping her fight off any potential bacteria too. Your milk supply will likely stay the same throughout the cold or flu.
Even though you now know the advantages, it can be easier said than done. Breastfeeding can be tiring enough, but adding on cold side effects can make you feel even more fatigued. That’s why it’s important to look after yourself during this time too, which leads us to our next tip…
#2 Get Some Rest, Mama
Rest may be what you need to finally get better, but with a baby, it can feel as if there’s no time. If you feel like carving out time to relax and heal is selfish, consider this: If you’re not sick, there’s less bacteria in your home, meaning your baby is also less likely to get sick. If you look at it that way, giving yourself some extra time is the opposite of selfish!
Here’s some tips for getting rest:
- If you work, take a day or two and stay home to relax on the sofa with the baby
- Get family members to divide your chores amongst themselves so you reserve your energy
- Ask a family member to look after your baby for a few hours so you can take a nap (or a day off)
Along with getting extra rest, make sure you’re eating healthy foods and drinking lots of fluids (teas and soups count too).
#3 Make Washing Your Hands a Habit
This is a good habit to get into even if you’re not sick because it prevents the transfer of bacteria. If you don’t already, here’s a quick guide of when to wash your hands:
- Before and after feeding or breastfeeding your baby
- Before and after preparing food or eating
- After using the washroom
- Before and after changing a diaper
- Before touching, holding or cuddling with your baby
- After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
- After touching garbage or cleaning
- After touching or cleaning up after a pet
Washing your hands doesn’t mean quickly running them under a tap. To wash them properly:
- Wet your hands
- Apply soap to a lather
- Scrub for 20 seconds
- Rinse hands
- Dry your hands using a clean towel, paper towel or air dry them
- If you use paper towel to dry your hands in a public bathroom, grab the paper towel while the tap is still running, dry off your hands, then use it to turn off the tap without skin contact (minimizing the likelihood of germ transfer).
If you don’t have a sink nearby, use hand sanitizer. It’s a good idea to keep a bottle near (but not within reach of) the crib, in your purse or baby bag, in the car and on the stroller. You may also encourage other family members to follow the same rules in case they’ve come in contact with germs too.
#4 Use the Snotty Buddy
Even if your baby isn’t sick, a stuffed nose can make it difficult to breathe. Left uncleaned, it can also harbor germs, leading to a possible cold or flu. It’s best to clean a clogged baby nose ASAP, but that can require multiple tries with a bulb syringe.
If you’ve never heard of the Snotty Buddy, it’s a device that removes mucus from your baby’s nose. Unlike the traditional nasal aspirator, it’s easier and quicker to use, which means less baby fussing and crying.
To use it, insert the mouthpiece into your mouth and the other end into your baby’s nose. Suck it like you would a straw to dislodge and remove your baby’s mucus. The filter captures the snot in the tube, preventing any germs from transferring to your mouth. To make it even more effective, try adding a few saline drops to your baby’s nose to loosen the mucus before sucking it out.
The best part is that the Snotty Buddy is affordable at only $9.99.
#5 Keep the Home Clean
Keeping your home sanitized is even more important when you’re sick. If your baby can’t crawl yet, you may think it’s unnecessary to clean surfaces she can’t touch. However, cleaning anything frequently touched by anyone in the home is a prevention essential. This decreases the chances of family members touching something and transferring the bacteria onto the baby when they make contact with her.
Here’s a list of things to keep clean:
- Laptops and keyboards
- Light switches
- Doorknobs and drawer pulls
- Surfaces (countertops, kitchen and coffee tables, etc.)
- Mopping floors
To disinfect these surfaces, you can use a spray and paper towel or clean cloth. However, for convenience (and to encourage you to keep things clean), we recommend keeping a few packs of disinfectant wipes around the home.
You should also put dirty tissues directly into the trash—rather than leaving them lying around—to avoid contaminating surfaces. If you’re having a sick day and feel glued to the couch, you can buy a closed mini trashcan to keep by your side.
#6 Sanitize Baby Items
You should also be cleaning baby items frequently. However, since babies often stick things in their mouth, you shouldn’t be using disinfectant wipes or any harsh, undiluted chemicals for the job.
Instead, wash the items with soapy water and rinse. Then, soak them in a solution of 2 teaspoons of bleach for one gallon of water to disinfect. Rinse and let air dry or dry with a clean towel or paper towel.
Here’s a list of baby items to clean and disinfect:
- Plastic toys (without batteries)
- Sippy cups and other dishes
- Bottle nipples
- Teething rings
#7 Avoid Mouth Contact
Kissing your baby on the lips is a big no-no if you’re sick, no matter how tempting it may be. You should also tell anyone who lives with you to avoid it too, just in case they also have germs. You can show your affection by hugging and cuddling her instead.
Another thing to avoid is “cleaning” off your baby’s items with your mouth. For example, when a sink isn’t available, when a pacifier falls onto the floor, a parent may stick it in their mouth, attempting to “get rid” of any bacteria. Not only is this ineffective, but you may also be transferring on your own infection. It’s not a good idea anytime—especially when you’re sick.
#8 Minimize Contact
Of course, you don’t need to quarantine yourself from the baby. However, if you’re really worried about it, minimizing contact with her for a few days when possible can decrease her chances of getting sick. For example, you can:
- Pre-pump breastmilk and ask your partner to bottle feed her
- Ask your partner to help with more of the playtime sessions
- Have family members help out with changing diapers
P.S. If your baby gets a cold despite your best efforts, taking her temperature is a lot easier with a non-contact thermometer. Since she doesn’t even know you’re taking it, there’s no fussing, meaning you can check it as often as needed. The BabyTemp Ultra-Portable Smartphone Thermometer allows you to take forehead, milk or bathwater readings without contact. The results are viewable on the connecting smartphone app.