WARNING: FLU SEASON IS UPON US. (Insert Scary Emoji)
The flu season is serious. There are on average 12,200 hospitalizations every year from the influenza (flu) according to Statistics Canada. Children 5 years and younger are at greater risk of having the flu, especially those aged 2 and younger due to underdeveloped immune systems. Newborns are too young to have the flu vaccine. But the vaccine is recommended for those aged 6 months and older.
One doesn’t just “catch” the flu out of nowhere. You must be in direct (arms length or touching) or indirect contact with someone infected who sneezes or coughs to be transmitted with the flu. Indirect contact meaning if you touch an object or surface that the infected person touched with their secretions (and then you touch your mouth after). I know, I know, TMI?
So your newborn is less than 6 months and you’re heading into the dreaded flu season… The peak of flu season lasts from November to March. Scary right? That’s practically half the year! In order to have the happiest and healthiest influenza season, here are 5 tips to prevent your family from passing the flu on to your baby…
TIP 1: VACCINATE THE NEWBORN HANDLERS
Just because your newborn cannot be vaccinated, does not mean you are off the hook! It is recommended to vaccinate those who handle the baby, such as; the parents, grandparents, siblings, nanny, etc. This protects yourself from the flu, and in turn the newborn.
TIP 2: HAND HYGIENE BEFORE HOLDING
Remind your visitors, your caregivers, and your family to always wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before handling the baby. This goes for those who aren’t sick too! Who knows what germs are on door handles, light switches, and table surfaces… and then you touch the baby’s hand and guess what? Those germs are now in their mouth. Yikes.
TIP 3: AVOID THE INFECTED
“Oh hey Grandpa you’re coming to visit tomorrow? You have the flu?” Yeah okay, Grandpa might be tough… but sorry, he ain’t visiting! And, if you have a hard time saying no, make sure that “Grandpa” and anyone else who’s sick stays clear from the baby even if they must visit. (Insert eye-roll emoji).
TIP 4: SAY NO TO CROWDS
Just picture the shopping mall on December 24th. Yeah, I don’t want to either!! The WORST. A large portion of these last minute shoppers are sick or are in the incubation phase (contagious) but just “running out” to get their last minute holiday gifts. Ah, thanks Susan, but keep your germs at home! Just kidding, no one listens. So you and your newborn have to avoid the crowds instead.
TIP 5: BREASTMILK = POWER FOOD
That’s right, another breastfeeding suggestion: surprise, surprise! But, it’s true… the antibodies in your breastmilk will help your newborn build their immune system and fight off the flu that might come their way. These antibodies are only in your breastmilk, not formula.
Remember, it is the combination of ALL tips that will help protect your newborn this flu season, not just one. I hope you enjoyed my 5 top tips for your baby’s first flu season. Leave a comment below if you have questions, or if you wish to share your suggestions too! I wish you all a happy and healthy fall/winter!