If you have a new baby in the house along with older kids, you may be dreading back to school germs. It’s bad enough when older kids get sick from the introduction of a new crop of gems every year, but at least they have mature immune systems to help them fight infections. Babies are still working hard to build their immunities and are particularly susceptible to getting sick, especially those who have not yet had their full course of shots.
Today we’re sharing some preventative measures to help ensure your baby stays safe from “big kid” germs that may creep into your home as your older kids head back to school:
Build “Big Kid” Resistance before School Starts: Part of the reason kids get sick is because their bodies have not come into contact with a particular microbe before. When microbes are introduced in small amounts that the body can handle and fight off, immunity builds. Therefore, if you expose your children to healthy amounts of germs prior to school, their chances of getting sick are less. Load up on late summer camps, playdates and kid-friendly activities before school starts to help your older kids build resistance. If their bodies can manage germs, they won’t bring sickness home to your baby who is certainly less likely to fight it off.
Wash Everyone’s Hands Often: Everyone in your household should wash their hands often. This includes immediately after coming home from school, after play time indoors or outside and before any meal. Be sure to wash your baby’s hands as well. This is not only sanitizing her hands, it is also teaching her a good habit for the future.
Teach “Big Kids” Good Hygiene: Teaching your kids good health practices can prevent them from getting sick and therefore protect your baby as well. Work on skills like sneezing and coughing into your sleeve; not sharing food, drinks, hair brushes, chap-stick or anything that is considered a personal hygiene product; not touching your hands and face without clean hands; eating healthily to keep your body strong; and getting plenty of sleep so your body is energized and refreshed to support you at your best. Empower your kids to be responsible for their own health and the health of your family.
Clean Floors and Baby Surfaces Often: It may be tedious to constantly clean your home but it is well worth it if it prevents your family from getting sick. Use baby-safe cleaning products or simple soap-and-water to clean floors, counters and toys that your baby touches or puts in her mouth. Wipes are helpful for cleaning toys as you can quickly wash them down after each play session.
Keep Older Kids away from Baby when Necessary: If your older kids have even a hint of the sniffles, limit exposure to the baby until you are sure they are not getting sick. It seems harsh to keep your kids away from each other, but it is extremely important if you want to keep your baby well. Also watch out for any shared household items or surfaces that both of your kids may use daily.
Breastfeed and Take Care of your own Health: Along with immunizations, breastfeeding is one of the best ways to build your baby’s immune system. Breast milk contains incomparable antibodies that not only help your baby defend herself against germs, but also strengthen her immunity in a variety of ways. Plus, breast milk contains thousands of vital nutrients for your baby’s overall growth and development, making it the most perfect food on the planet for her little body. You can boost your breast milk by eating healthily yourself and ensuring you are getting plenty of fluids, relaxation and sleep. When mom is sick, breastfeeding is quite difficult so stay well so your baby can too.
Ensure Everyone has a Flu Vaccine: Flu vaccines are recommended for everyone in your household who is six months of age or older. Take a family trip to the pediatrician’s office or a local flu clinic to get your vaccine together. Many practices offer a flu mist that is inhaled through the nose, making it much less scary for children to receive the vaccine.
Do Undo Others…Keep Sick Kids and Babies at Home: Kids get sick when sick kids go to school, the playground or after school activities. You certainly don’t want your child exposed to another kid’s illness so respect other families by keeping your kids home when they are sick. Many schools have sick policies and, as a parent, you should have your own sick code of ethics.
Wishing you much fun, learning and health as your kids head back to school!