The holidays are an exciting time of family togetherness. With a new baby on board, everyone will experience this magical time in a new light. And your baby will begin to learn the wonders that this season has to offer. But, between traveling, holiday gatherings, enjoying festivities around town, and being snuggled by every single person in your family young and old, your baby will be exposed to quite a lot.
A healthy holiday season for your baby doesn’t necessarily mean keeping your little one completely isolated from the world. However, you can take simple precautions to ensure your baby stays well during this most contagious time of year. Remember, your baby’s immune system is quite weak at birth. Through breastfeeding and slow exposure to microorganisms over time, your baby will build strong and healthy defense mechanisms.
Keep these tips in mind as you embark on a healthy holiday season for your baby:
Washing Hands is the #1 Way to Avoid Illness
A little soap and water go a long way at protecting your baby from the endless pathogens that could potentially find their way to your little love. Even if your baby is fairly immobile, go ahead and wash her hands periodically. For babies who are crawling and exploring already, hands-washing is essential. The same is true for you; Always wash before touching your baby, breastfeeding, or handling your breast pump. And make hand-washing mandatory for anyone who wants to hold your baby.
Breastfeed, Breastfeed, Breastfeed
Breast milk is the leading superfood for your baby because it contains hundreds of nutrients tailor-made for your bundle of joy. It is also chock full of antibodies specific to the pathogens your baby encounters. That’s because you are constantly producing antibodies for all the harmful substances you ingest or come into contact with and are passing it along to your baby, who presumably is exposed to the same invaders. Also, the IgA antibodies found in breast milk are known to not harm healthy flora in the gut or cause inflammation.
With all that said, breastfeeding also helps meet another vital basic need, the need to be loved. While in a nursing embrace, your baby feels safe and secure. You are learning each other day-by-day and your bond grows stronger. Your little one is both nurtured and nourished through breastfeeding, two essential necessities for healthy babies.
Cover Up When Possible
Airborne pathogens can land on your baby in a flash. When you’re in a crowded space where uncovered coughs and sneezes are inevitable, keep a blanket over your baby. If you’re breastfeeding in public, a nursing cover is a terrific way to shield your little one from germs and give you a private yet breezy distraction-free space to breastfeed.
Stay Away from People Known to be Sick
It’s a big bummer to cancel holiday plans but it’s even worse to expose your baby to someone who is already sick and contagious. If someone calls to tell you they are not well, take a raincheck for the sake of keeping your little one healthy.
Allow Your Baby Opportunity to Sleep
Sleep not only gives your baby’s brain time to absorb all the wonders she’s experienced during her day, it’s also when she’s developing her immune system. This time of rest and rejuvenation allows you baby’s body to focus on building stellar defense mechanisms that will serve to protect her throughout her lifetime. It’s tempting to cart your baby anywhere and everywhere during the holidays but be sure she has plenty of time for quality sleep so she can fight off germs that have recently come her way. Psst…take advantage of the time when your baby is sleeping to catch some zzz’s yourself. Being well rested will keep you energized for motherhood and a happier holiday season!