It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, it’s the germiest too. For babies meeting a lot of family members, there’s an increased risk of catching a cold or worse. But you can help keep your infant’s immune system in top shape. Here’s how:
Ensure your infant is up to date on vaccines
Diseases that keep adults in bed for a couple days can be extremely dangerous for babies. Double-check whether your baby is caught up on all vaccines he or she is old enough for, so viruses like whooping cough won’t become an issue. Your local health department is a great resource for immunizations.
Make sure everyone washes their hands before holding the baby
The entire family is going to want to hold the baby. And who can blame them? Before you pass your little one over, though, ask each person to wash their hands so viruses and infections aren’t as likely to spread. You may also want to carry hand sanitizer in the diaper bag in case there isn’t a sink nearby.
Choose your infant’s clothes carefully
Tiny Santa and elf outfits are almost too cute to resist. But if your child is too warm or too cold, he or she won’t feel well. Keep him or her comfortable and at the right temperature. Learn how to dress an infant during winter. [link to “Quick Guide for Dressing Your Baby in Winter” blog]
Make sure your baby gets plenty of rest
All the holiday excitement and being shuffled from one person to another can exhaust an infant, weakening his or her immune system. Set aside time each day for your baby to nap, so you’re less likely to have to deal with a sick, fussy child.
Little ones are curious – especially at Christmastime. With so many lights and bows, they’ll want to explore. A few precautions can keep the decorations – and your child – safe throughout the season.
Anchor the treeto the wall. Most young children like to climb, and a Christmas tree always looks like fun. Make sure it’s securely anchored to prevent it from tipping. Another option is to place a “fence” around the tree (similar to a series of baby gates) to keep the kids from getting too close.
Use nonbreakable ornaments. Shattered glass ornaments can cause injuries, not to mention be a pain to clean up. Plastic is the better choice for the first few years.
Use artificial candles and lights. Flames are dangerous when a child is around. Investing in electric lights and battery-powered candles keeps your home festive and safe.
Don’t set presents under the tree. Your baby will want to open gifts, which can be dangerous if he or she gets into Aunt Lisa’s new set of kitchen knives. Keeping gifts hidden eliminates the danger. Plus, your child will be thrilled to see what Santa left on Christmas morning.
Use fake plants. Mistletoe, holly and poinsettias are Christmas staples, but they’re also poisonous when eaten. Fake alternatives are still festive, but without the danger.
Pay extra attention while cooking. Between hot pans and sharp utensils, the kitchen is a danger zone during holiday get-togethers. Keep a close eye on your child, so he or she doesn’t grab something unsafe.
Want more advice for navigating the holidays with an infant? Follow Bootheel Babies & Families on Facebook.
Babies often wake up in the middle of the night – it’s what they do. Keeping your newborn in your bed so you are close by when the baby wakes may seem easier. However, sharing a bed with your infant increases his or her risk of injury and suffocation. Here are three reasons why bed-sharing is not worth the risk:
Loose blankets and sheets put your infant at a higher risk of suffocation. As a baby squirms and wiggles during sleep, a blanket or sheet could move and cover his or her nose, impairing breathing.
Your baby could fall off your bed. Cribs include barriers to keep your baby from rolling off during the night, but your bed doesn’t have the same safeguards. The few feet from your mattress to the floor are dangerous for an infant, or he or she could become trapped between the mattress and headboard, footboard or wall.
You could roll on top of your baby. Just like your baby squirms during sleep, you do the same, and you likely won’t notice if you roll on top of your baby. Across the U.S., there have been many reports of infant deaths related to these circumstances.
To reduce your infant’s risk of injury or death, it’s best to allow your baby to sleep alone, on their back, in a crib or other safe sleep surface. To learn more about how to ensure your baby sleeps safely, check out this blog post or visit http://www.bootheelbabies.org/safe-sleep/
Disclaimer: If your baby has a fever or other symptoms, or you have concerns about the growth and development of your child, always seek care with your healthcare provider.