Our tips on Keeping Baby Cold & Flu Free this Winter...
It’s that time of year again, the evenings are getting shorter and as summer comes to a close our minds turn to preparing for autumn and winter! The BBQ is back in the shed, the central heating is firing again and the sound of coughing, sneezing and sniffling can be heard around homes across the UK!
If your little one arrives during the colder months or during the summer it's worthwhile thinking about your baby’s first flu or cold and how you might avoid it for as long as possible during your child’s first winter months.
After all, newborns don’t have the immune system to fend off viruses, bacteria and infections as adults do and will likely catch a flu virus much quicker and for much longer than grown ups. Here is a list of do and don’ts to help you keep baby healthy during his or her early months!
Vaccination gives you as the parent the power to protect your baby from even the most dangerous illnesses such as measles and hepatitis and is a powerful defence to give a child early on in life. Vaccination from an early age could save your child’s life and is a must for all parents. There is a recommended time schedule to vaccination– and this is generally recommended to start at 2 months. It may seem quite early but infections can be picked up at any time and we can’t keep our little ones at home for ever! In the UK a child’s first round of vaccinations at 2 months includes a 5 in 1 vaccine via a single jab which protects against 5 different diseases including tetanus, whooping cough and haemophilia type b. Timing is very important and we recommend viewing the NHS’s detailed list and information on the recommended vaccine schedule here .
The first 2 months
In the 2 months prior to vaccination it is recommended to avoid crowds as much as possible and public transport during this period should be avoided if at all possible too. Scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine tested over 400 people in 2008. Out of the hundreds of people tested it found that in some cities across the UK up to and over 50% percent of people had faecal bacteria present on their hands! In colder months places such as airports, the tube and buses are a hotbed of flu viruses and bacterial infections. While this may seem a little bit like scare mongering, keep in mind that an infection or virus that may be barely noticeable for an adult, could be much more easily picked up and felt for much longer for an infant. Keeping your little ones exposure to situations like this at minimum is the best approach until they have had their vaccines.
Human breast milk provides all the nutrients your baby needs to be strong and healthy but also contains an incredible amount of immune boosting substances for your baby including antibodies and white blood cells. The presence of these substances in breast milk are natures defence against a broad range of infections and disease during breast feeding and long after.
While breast feeding with a cold will most likely result in passing it on to your child, the antibodies you produce to combat the infection will also be transferred to your child giving them the defence they need to fend of the cold or possible prevent the cold from developing at all.
Here at Babasafe UK we are great advocates of breast feeding and it's benefits and encourage all parents to breast feed for as long as possible as baby formula simply won’t give the kind of protection that can be given through your milk.
You’re the bouncer!
Yes we are talking crowd control! In the first 6 months, it’s often the case that many visitors arrive to see the little bundle of joy for the first time. As draconian as it may seem it’s important to screen those arriving at the house in these early stages to ensure that none of them are suffering from a flu or cold that could be passed on to your infant.
Younger children have a tendency to want to touch and cuddle newborns and as cute as it is, it’s probably best to prevent them from doing so in the early stages. After all the average child gets 5 to 8 colds a year particularly while in preschool and crèche. While keeping everyone in check, try blaming it on your GP’s recommendations so you don’t seem overly protective!
Keep germs at bay
One of the most effective ways of preventing flu or other viruses is to keep your hands and commonly used areas as clean as possible. Keeping your hands and surfaces that you and your child come into contact with clean will greatly reduce the spread of viruses & bacteria.
- Buy a number of bottles of sanitizer to pop in your bag and have in the house for when visitors arrive. Hand sanitizers are as effective as washing your hands at killing germs and are really handy.
- Identify the “germ hot spots” around the house and even when you’re out. Use anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down door handles. Mobile phones, iPads and toys!
- Watch out when you visit the GP’s or paediatrician’s It’s tempting to flick through the magazines or allow children to play with toys in the waiting room! Most waiting rooms have sanitizers provided buy given the number of people arriving through a typical GP’s surgery with a flu or cold it's worthwhile being cautious.