Winter is here, which generally means a raging season of colds and flu isn’t far behind. There’s so many nasty viruses circulating this time of the year, it’s almost a guarantee that someone in your family will come down with one or even two illnesses. And if one of you gets it, it’s hard to stop it from moving on to the other members of your family.
Young children, in particular, need to be protected from illnesses as much as possible because they can suffer some of the most severe complications. Here are a few ways to decrease the risk your baby will get sick this winter.
Don’t be wishy-washy
Don’t let people who are sick come around your child if you can help it. Sometimes, you don’t have a choice. If you use a daycare, you can’t control if the other parents bring their children in while they are sick and infectious. There’s nothing you can do about that.
But, if a family member wants to stop by for a visit and says she just recovered from an illness, channel your inner mama bear and protect your child. Tell your relative to wait for a few days before visiting – just because she feels better doesn’t mean she isn’t still capable of infecting others. Make no apologies for your behavior – your first duty is to protect your child, not your relative’s feelings.
Get a flu shot
They aren’t foolproof, but they may help you and your child dodge a serious flu bug. They won’t guard against every flu strain out there, but flu shots are one of the best ways to protect children, especially ones with underlying health issues.
Don’t skimp on the shut-eye
If you want to keep your immune system in tip-top shape, you need to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. That can be a challenge with a baby in the house, which makes it even more important to catch up on any sleep you miss. If you were up into the wee hours of the night, get a nap when you can the next day. And if you have a partner, make sure he or she gets up with the baby the next night so you aren’t left sleepless for too many nights in a row.
Eat some yogurt
The probiotics in yogurt may have a protective effect against colds and flu. Look for a brand with live cultures and eat a serving daily to protect your gut and possibly your overall health.
Wash your hands like you mean it
Getting germs off your hands requires more than getting your hands wet for a couple of seconds. Scrub and rub your hands together with soap for at least 20 to 30 seconds.
Stay home more
If you aren’t going to crowded shopping malls, movie theaters and other places that attract a lot of people, you’ll reduce your risk of getting sick. As an added perk, you’ll also save money.
Shannon Serpette is a mother of two and an award-winning journalist and freelancer who lives in Illinois. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.