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Questions about how to keep children well? Here’s some winter wellness advice.

Baby in winter

Image source: Thinkstock

Winter brings the usual specter of runny noses, sore throats and coughs, but many of us have also heard the news and internet reports about the increasing number of cases of pertussis (whooping cough) and the spread of the flu recently.

Moms, especially moms of infants who are not yet fully immunized, may be wondering what they can do to protect their little one. Here are a few tips that may help you, your family, and your littlest ones stay healthy.

Newborn baby in woman's arms

Image source: Thinkstock

Infants

  • Breastfeeding is best.
    Breastfeeding offers baby some of mom’s natural immunity which can help protect him or her from infections.
  • Make sure everyone who cares for your baby has a recent Pertussis vaccine, including you.
    Your baby is not fully immunized against Pertussis until after his or her 1st birthday.
  • Ask family and friends not to visit in those first early weeks if they are sick.
    It may seem like just a little cold to them, but a fever in an infant under 30 days old can mean a visit to the ER. No one wants to be the cause of that!
  • Try to limit taking your young infant into crowded public places where he or she may be exposed to all kinds of viruses, especially the respiratory viruses.
    Even the most well-meaning person may forget that she just coughed into her hand when she sees your tiny baby’s little fist waving from the stroller! When you do have to be in a crowded store or school cafeteria, keep baby close to you or maybe a blanket shadowing the stroller so fewer strangers are tempted to touch or kiss your little one.
  • Hand washing. It makes a difference.
    Insist that everyone who does touch or hold your baby has washed their hands first. Some people may feel a little put off by the request, but they should respect your desire to keep your baby well.

Special Note-If your baby was born prematurely

If your baby was born 35 weeks gestation or earlier, talk to your Pediatrician. Your baby may need a vaccine against RSV, a virus that can cause a severe upper respiratory illness in babies who were born prematurely, have BPD (bronchopulmonary dysplasia) or significant CHD (congenital heart disease).

Older Babies

Image source: Thinkstock

Image source: Thinkstock

What was true for the younger baby is true for the older babies as well. If possible, continue breast feeding. Even if you can’t breast feed full time, every little bit helps.

Always wash hands before and after snacks and meals, after play dates, after being in public places (who else’s hands were on that grocery cart?) and any time you think your child has come in contact with something you wouldn’t want in their mouths.

Speaking of which, babies explore their environment with their mouths. This means it’s a good idea to wipe down table tops, booster seats and shopping carts before your little one decides to taste test it.

Vaccinate. Many needless infections can be prevented by vaccinating on schedule!