Keeping Your Newborn Protected During The Flu Season
The flu season is in full swing and as the parent of a newborn, like myself, you may be wondering how you can keep your child safe during the flu season. The flu shot, which some healthcare providers will recommend, is only available to children 6 months and up. Some families may choose to vaccinate the entire family, except the newborn, from the flu. Vaccination against the flu is one way to try to protect the newborn. However, there are other ways to protect yourself and your family from the flu, as well.
How To Protect Ourselves From Illness
The best ways to protect ourselves from illness are by maintaining strong healthy immune systems and avoiding germs. These are important not only for the new baby but for the entire family. By taking steps to keep the entire family safe from the flu you are taking a big step towards keeping your newborn safe from the flu. So how can we maintain strong healthy immune systems and avoid germs?
A Strong Immune System
One way to boost your immune systems is by maintaining a healthy gut. Research has found that approximately 70-80% of our immune systems are in our gut. The gut is responsible for both bad germs, or flora, and good ones. A healthy gut will have a nice amount of good healthy flora.
Adults and children can boost their gut health by eating a diet of varied fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fermented foods, ancient grains, and healthy fats. Additionally, taking a daily probiotic is another way to boost your gut health. If you are breastfeeding you are passing immunities to your baby. But did you know that by breastfeeding you are also boosting your newborns’s gut health when you maintain a healthy gut? Infant probiotics are usually safe to give to breastfed infants as well. However, it is best to ask your child’s doctor before starting any type of supplement. If you are using formula it would be best to speak to your child’s doctor about the best probiotic, if any, to give. Some formula already contains probiotics.
A healthy diet and probiotics are two ways to boost your immune system. Vitamin D3 and Zinc are additional supplements that may be taken. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all breastfed infants receive a Vitamin D3 supplement. This supplement can either be given to the infant or the breastfeeding mother can take it herself. Also, getting enough sleep and exercising daily are important. As the parent of a newborn, I try to rest during at least one of her naps. I also try to go outside for a short walk each day.
Avoiding germs, the best you can, is one of the ways to keep your newborn protected during the flu season. This includes washing your hands frequently, keeping sick guests away, and staying home as much as possible. Hand washing should be done prior to holding the baby, before eating, when coming home from school, work, and/or running errands. You can also keep hand sanitizer available in your diaper bag and car. If a friend or family member is sick, politely request that they wait to visit until they are back to feeling 100%.
There will also come a time when you have to leave your home with your newborn. When venturing out of the house with your newborn a good way to keep well-intended strangers from getting too close or touching your baby is by keeping your baby on you, facing towards you. I have a collection of baby carriers that I use both at home and outside the home.
Baby carriers allow you to keep your baby on you, with their faces nuzzled to your chest, and free up your hands. You can find a selection of baby carriers in most stores that carry baby gear or online. It is also best to try to time those trips outside of the home when the places you are going to are the least busy. I take my newborn to the grocery store on a weekday, early in the morning.
Protect Your Family From The Flu
Though there is no way to guarantee that your newborn will not get the flu, it is best to try to protect them by maintaining a strong immune system and avoiding germs. It is also important to be vigilant if your baby or any family members show any symptoms of the flu. The antiviral Tamiflu has proven to be effective in reducing the severity and length of the flu. It works best when started early. So if anyone has symptoms of the flu you should go to your doctor as soon as possible for the flu test; even if that person has had the flu shot since it’s not guaranteed protection.
Having a newborn in the middle of flu season can feel scary. I have a newborn this flu season myself, so I know. However, I hope you found these tips helpful in keeping you and your newborn protected during the flu season.