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Keep your newborn healthy!

How to Keep Your Newborn Healthy When You Have a Sick Child or Parent at Home

Guest Post by Katy Fleming, MA, LPC, BSN, RN

As a new parent, it’s overwhelming to protect your newborn during cold and flu season.  Your baby’s immune system is still developing while viruses pass through the family. 

How can you fight off illnesses while maintaining your baby’s health?  Let's break down 6 ways to keep your newborn healthy when you or your family are sick at home.

How to Keep Your Newborn Healthy When You Have a Sick Child or Parent at Home

6 Ways to Keep Your Newborn Healthy

Newborns are at risk for several viruses and infections. Babies younger than 6 months old are not approved for the flu vaccine and thus are at high risk for hospitalization from the flu. 

Here are some effective ways to prevent spreading illness to your newborn baby when others are sick in the home.

1. Back to the Basics: Hand Hygiene

One of the most effective yet simple techniques for preventing the spread of illnesses is hand washing.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.  Rubbing those hands together creates friction to lift dirt and microbes from your skin.  

Be sure to wash your hands before touching your baby, after coughing or sneezing, and after using the bathroom.  Don’t forget to dry those hands— germs transfer more easily when hands are wet, according to research!   

How to Keep Your Newborn Healthy

2. Minimize Contact with the Baby

After adding a new member to the family, people grab the chance to hold and kiss the baby. Unfortunately, it’s the perfect opportunity for germs to spread.  Limit the newborn’s contact with others, especially those exhibiting symptoms of illness.  

Common viruses in babies such as respiratory syncytial virus and the flu are spread through respiratory droplets and close person-to-person contact.  Keep in mind that a person is typically contagious for a few days prior to showing symptoms. Don’t hesitate to set boundaries with those that hold the baby such as washing their hands beforehand, avoiding kissing the baby, and wearing a mask. 

3. Frequently Clean High Traffic Areas

Be sure to frequently clean commonly touched areas.  Sometimes we slack on household chores when someone becomes ill in the family.  However, this is an important time to frequently disinfect as another way to spread germs is through indirect contact.  

Harmful germs live on door handles, tables, and other commonly touched areas.  Minimize the spread to your baby by continuing to clean highly touched areas by both you and your newborn.

4. Set an Appointment with your Health Care Provider

As a parent, you may not seek medical attention for yourself very often.  When you have a newborn in the house, identifying the illness significantly improves the course of treatment. Contact your doctor when you or another member of the family are feeling ill to assess the diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

5. Quarantine in the Home

Consider temporarily isolating family members while they’re exhibiting symptoms.  For example, if your newborn typically sleeps in your bedroom but your partner is sick, you can sleep in another room of the house with the baby. 

To minimize cross-contamination, use separate drinking glasses and plates for those exhibiting symptoms.  If other children in the home are ill, provide one isolated play area.

6. Ask for Help

As the caretaker, you may not typically ask for help from others. When you and your household aren’t feeling well, don’t hesitate to ask friends or family for assistance.  Especially when caring for a newborn baby.  

Be sure to assess if those willing to help are healthy and up to date on vaccinations.

Sickness is inevitable in life.  However, you can develop a plan to protect your newborn baby while illnesses travel throughout the family.  Implementing these simple strategies minimizes the spread of harmful germs and promotes healthy habits.

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As a licensed counselor and registered nurse, Katy approaches freelance writing with years of experience and a unique perspective. Alongside her partner, Katy loves to travel the world and embrace other cultures from volcanoes in Iceland to villages in India.

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1 comment

So appreciate this article and happy to know that my precious daughter learned a few things from her Momma and real life experience in cari ng for her little brother Hunter when he was a baby in our family of 10 !

Lisa Haines November 21, 2022

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