The only thing worse than catching a virus postpartum is watching your sweet bundle suffer through the sniffles (or worse)! Having a sick baby is one of the toughest and most emotionally distressing experiences a parent can have. Babies can't tell you what's wrong, or where it hurts, so you're left to just guess, which can be so difficult. While there are some things you can do to help your newborn at home, it's best to make a call to your pediatrician just to be sure everything is okay. Make sure to also ask about dosing and side effects of any medications you plan give, even over the counter options like Tylenol, because very small babies do not metabolize in the same way adults do and you could accidentally cause harm.
The best thing to do is to keep your newborn from getting sick in the first place. With all the germs out there in the world, it's far better to stay on top of your baby's health rather than trying to dealing with a sick baby. Are there ways you can guard your newborn this cold and flu season? Yes! Check out these handy tips for helping your baby stay as healthy as possible:
Wash your hands- Your hands touch all kinds of things every day and germs are everywhere! Door knobs, car handles, shopping cart, shoes, purses and so much more. You just don't know what you have touched and what you could be bringing home, so before you hold your baby, make sure you wash your hands. Recent studies show that antibacterial washes and wipes may not be as effective as once thought--old fashioned soap and water is best, but keeping hand sanitizer in your purse or car can help keep things clean when you’re on-the-go.
Cover your mouth- Many germs, like bacteria and viruses, are airborne. If you're singing, or cooing, kissing or talking to your baby, you could be transferring germs through the air. While it normally isn't a problem, cover your mouth if you feel a scratchy throat, stuffy or runny nose, run down, or if you've been around someone you know is sick. Additionally, never, ever kiss your newborn on the mouth and don't let anyone else do it either.
Breastfeed. While breastfeeding isn’t possible or the right option for everyone, breastfeeding has been proven to support immune function in babies. This is because probiotics as well as immunities to certain germs that the mother has also been exposed to are transferred to the baby through her milk.
Be careful who holds her- Everyone loves to snuggle with a brand new baby, and some people can be downright pushy about it. You are your baby's protector and if she gets sick, you are the one who has to deal with it, not anyone else. So, be overly protective about who holds your newborn. Babies’ immune systems take months to fully develop, so don't be afraid to push back.
Change his clothes- If your baby is in daycare, or spends time around lot of other kids, or even adults, make sure that you change his clothes as soon as you can. Germs can sit on the clothes for hours, sometimes even days after exposure. Wash his laundry frequently and keep fresh clothes handy.
Get vaccinated- Vaccines can help prevent many diseases and illnesses that can be very serious in babies. Flu shots are developed on an annual basis to target the most common strains of the virus. Discuss with your pediatrician which vaccines are most beneficial to yourself and your little one.
Take care of yourself! It’s easy to get swept away with all things baby in the first few months postpartum, but make time for self care. Stress, sleepless nights, and recovering from birth can compromise your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick and then passing it on to your baby. Remember to rest when you can, take vitamins and eat well to regain your strength, and go get your nails done or have a massage once in awhile. Your energy levels and immune system will thank you!
Of course exposure to germs is inevitable! However, you can greatly reduce how frequently your newborn is sick by following some simple rules for yourself and others. Be well!