Good Habits to Prevent Your Baby’s Cold or Flu
Feeling concerned about figuring out how to keep your baby safe from illness is a natural part of the transition into parenthood. Especially in their first months of life when a newborn care plan is in place and a baby’s immune system hasn’t fully developed. Adopting good habits that support the prevention of common baby illnesses, like a baby’s cold, is one of the best ways to support your little one’s health and wellness. It’s also valuable to have a metaphorical toolbox to pull from so you have plenty of resources within reach. With this preventative approach in mind, we will go through some ways for parents and other caregivers to help your baby avoid sickness as much as possible. Then we’ll finish up with some wellness-centered methods for parents to calm a fussy or sick baby, in the interest of helping to reduce both the length of their illness, and any discomfort that it causes.
Methods to Prevent Common Baby Illnesses
There are plenty of ways to help prevent a baby’s or a newborn’s cold. Many of them start at home, with parents and other family members. When everyone in the baby’s orbit pulls together to adopt preventative measures, it creates the safest possible environment for a little one. Here’s some great methods to keep in mind:
Have visitors sanitize their hands.
Making it common practice for visitors to wash and/or sanitize their hands before visiting with little ones is a great way to reduce the amount of germs they come in contact with. Applying this to yourself and other family members may be a good idea too. Especially directly after someone comes back from working outside of the home, going to school, or otherwise coming into regular contact with others outside of the household.
Make sure all caregivers follow good preventative hygiene, too.
Having a discussion about illness prevention with all of your baby’s caregivers, such as baby-sitters and day-care techs, is always a good idea. Not only does it make sure that everyone is on the same page, it contributes to making sure that everyone your infant comes into contact with is following appropriate guidelines. Some things to discuss with caregivers include regular hand washing, regular hand sanitizing, and getting the applicable vaccines that keep them and others in their orbit safer.
Utilize the benefits of breastmilk or breastfeed if it’s possible for you.
Breastfeeding provides a myriad of benefits for a mother and baby. Including the fact that it’s one of the best natural ways to support a newborn’s immune system as it grows and develops. This is mostly because of the antibodies in breast-milk, along with its essential nutritional qualities.
If however, for whichever reason, you are not able to breast-feed or give breast milk, your doctor will help you find the proper formula and you can still support your infant’s immune system.
Stay healthy as a parent.
Because infant health starts in the home, it’s important to do your best in keeping yourself healthy too. If a parent rarely gets sick, then that’s one less way your infant is going to contract an illness and one less thing to worry about. Making a habit of prioritizing your health, as well as theirs, is always a good decision because a healthy parent is able to be there for themselves and their families. Another great benefit of starting healthy habits in the home is that as your child grows older, these practices can become inherent in their own lifestyle as you continue to provide a good example.
Scheduling regular pediatrician visits.
Regular visits to the doctor are one of the best preventative measures you can take for your baby. They can catch any signs that the baby is sick and ensure that you are both getting the support you need to continue a healthy trajectory. Consistency with visits allows someone to track your baby’s growth and vitals, which are of course extremely important for the pediatrician to know. This can help them to predict and prescribe if your baby needs anything special during their development. Further, a visit to the doctor is essential if you find yourself in doubt about anything, have a question about care, or are having trouble understanding how to tell if the baby is sick.
Calming a Fussy Baby
Just like with us, illnesses can make a baby more irritable and stressed. So it’s important to have wellness-centered ways to soothe fussiness caused by the baby’s cold symptoms. Here we’ve included some simple ways to calm little ones. If one particular suggestion on how to calm a stressed baby isn’t helping, don’t give up, try another. After some time you’ll figure out what works best for you and your baby.
Attend to any routine needs your baby may have.
Before you try anything else, it’s a good idea to check and make sure that your baby’s usual needs are met. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests using this or a similar checklist in determining what your baby may be asking for:
- Are they hungry?
- Are they too hot or too cold?
- Does their diaper need changing?
- Are they overstimulated or overwhelmed?
- Are they bored?
- Are they in need of more rest?
If all needs are attended to and the baby is still fussy, move on to these other recommendations for soothing their irritability.
Keep your baby feeling supported.
Whether it be swaddling them or simply holding them close, making a baby feel supported and safe is one of the easiest and most effective ways to put them in a better mood. You can try adding in a gentle back rub or head stroke as well.
Create some soothing movements.
Calming, repetitive movements can go a long way towards soothing a fussy baby. It’s also suggested that calming motions remind babies of movements they felt in the womb. Try gentle rocking or walking them in a body carrier.
Try some soothing sounds for baby.
Playing some soft music, especially some that’s been created or curated specifically for babies, can help calm little ones. Or, similar to soothing movements, some babies react well to gently repetitive sounds like white noise, the hum of a fan, or a recorded heartbeat.
Offer something that you know comforts them.
If your little one has a particular object that helps them relax, try offering it in times of stress. Something like a pacifier, a favorite blanket, or a soft toy can be soothing and also give the baby something simple to focus on while they are under your supervision.
When To Contact a Doctor
Our recommendations for prevention are based on wellness and lifestyle, and are not meant to be taken as medical advice. Nothing compares to the expertise of your baby’s doctor. The Mayo Clinic suggests contacting a medical professional if any of the following occur:
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath.
- Change in behavior.
- Loss of appetite.
- Inconsolable or unusually frequent crying.
- Vomiting that occurs outside of a baby’s normal, occasional spitting up.
- Showing signs of dehydration like fewer wet diapers or dry mouth.
- Fever, as it can suggest the flu in babies.
- When the baby’s cough or cold symptoms last more than 10 days.
Also, if you feel or suspect that something may be wrong, trust your intuition and contact a doctor.
Doing your best for your baby’s health and keeping them safe from illness is one thing that’s on all parents' minds, especially during the first months. Similarly, the concern over a baby’s cold or other sickness is something that each one experiences and navigates. Practicing prevention techniques is a great way to prioritize the little one’s health, as well as yours. And it’s much easier to be there for your family when you’re healthy.