Tips & Tricks on Managing the Germs and Family Expectations
We’re all familiar with the simple ways to keep our baby safe from germs, especially during flu season. Living through a pandemic has certainly taught us about washing our hands and wiping surfaces. It’s unlikely these days that any parent would use a public change table without wiping it down first. But surface germs aren’t a parents only, or biggest concern. For infants, it’s more complicated.
While it is essential for our babies to grow a strong immune system, these days, it’s more important to ensure we’re keeping our babies safe from germs that can cause them harm. Of course, they’re naturally exposed to germs every day. Still, it’s your job as parents to ensure they’re not deliberately exposed to more germs than needed, especially those coming from other people. Germs from other people can be quite harmful to an infant (we need not even mention the C-word), and other people (as we know *eye roll emoji*) are challenging to control. It doesn’t help that your bundle of joy is the most snuggly thing ever and everyone’s instinct is to give that adorable bundle a cuddle and a sniff.
With flu season, RSV and other infections can cause serious harm to infants. Therefore, parents must work hard towards keeping the baby safe. Unfortunately, this often means being the bad guy to all those well-meaning grannies.
Here are some Tips for Keeping your Baby Safe From Germs in Flu Season
-Wash your hands
It should really go without saying, but let’s say it again for those in the back. Wash your hands! And make sure that any visitors wash their hands too. Make sure you’re always washing thoroughly, using soap. Wash often, and wash directly after touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
-Don’t allow sick guests
If anyone is sick, even if they’re almost recovered from a common cold- say no. Let’s rebook when you’re totally healthy. What is merely a common cold for an adult can lead to other severe infections such as pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and croup or RSV for an infant. Sick people near babies is a hard no.
-Ask people not to touch or especially kiss the baby
This can be a very touchy subject, especially with aunts, uncles, and grandparents. But you must stand your ground if this is something that’s important to you. Here are a few ways to politely get the point across.
I know how much you love (baby) and want to cuddle, but we aren’t comfortable with people touching them at this time; we appreciate your support in this.
Based on the advice from our pediatrician, we’re only having direct family touch the baby during flu season; thank you for understanding.
Or depending on where your comfort level is…
We’d prefer if you’d only kiss and touch the baby’s feet, thanks.
Remember, it’s your baby and your responsibility to keep them safe and healthy.
-Carry baby in a sling or use a car seat cover
It’s a deterrent. It’s far more unlikely that someone with come up and touch your baby if they’re comfortably nestled against your chest. Use this physical barrier when out or at family gatherings. Plus, your hands are already free, so Aunt Gladys can’t use the excuse that she can help “take baby off your hands” Plus, there are many other benefits to babywearing too.
-Use Labels to avoid any pacifier or toy mix-ups while at playdates
Label all your baby’s items using these. This will ensure that no mix-ups with other babies’ pacifiers or toys happen while at childcare, a playdate of family function.
-Keep baby healthy, naturally
Keep your baby well fed with all the balanced nutrition their little body needs. Allow them to get the sleep they need to let their immune system do its work. It won’t keep the germs away completely, but it can certainly help their little bodies fight what does come their way.
-Keep up-to-date on doctor check-ups
Make sure your baby sticks to the vaccination schedule or speak with your pediatrician or family practitioner about what’s best for your family.
Everything will be okay…
If you follow these tips and tricks, you’re doing everything you can to keep the baby safe. However, remember that sometimes it happens, and don’t beat yourself up if your baby does get sick. Instead, drop the guilt and put that effort into caring for them. You don’t have to monitor the germ situation intensely forever, but it is imperative in the first four months of a baby’s life. Once you reach that stage, you can start to loosen up the rules and allow the baby to be exposed to more.
Remember, after that age, babies are supposed to explore. After 6, you should still be careful with people’s germs, but also remember that it’s also vital for their immune systems to build, so let them explore and eat a little dirt too.