Cold and flu season is never fun, but add an infant into the mix and it can feel like you officially have a situation on your hands while you're trying to protect them from non-stop germ invasions. Especially if you're a first-time mom navigating through your baby's first season of potential sneezes, runny noses, and fevers, you may be overwhelmed at the idea of how you can best care for your little one before, during, and after the dreaded cold and flu season months.
Knowing that as moms we all want nothing but the best for our kids, Romper teamed up with Abbott, the makers of Similac infant formula, to ask their experts what advice they have for moms of infants during cold and flu season. As it turns out, there are things you can do even at the beginning of your baby's life to give them the boost they need to grow healthy and strong — and the solutions are even easier than you may realize. Read on to learn a few pieces of expert-backed intel, then move through this upcoming cold and flu season with the confidence you need to keep yourself and your baby happy, healthy, and (hopefully!) cold and flu-free.
HMOs Will Be Your Baby's First Best Friend
Seriously! Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are a special ingredient in breast milk that nourish your baby's immune system. You may not realize this, but 70 percent of your baby’s immune system exists in the gut — and HMOs help grow the good bacteria in their gut that can defend against bad bacteria.
"Until recently, infants could only get HMOs through breastmilk, but now babies fed Similac with 2’-FL HMO can experience some of the immune system development benefits as babies fed breastmilk, through the addition of this immune-nourishing prebiotic that circulates through the body," says Dr. Rachael Buck, Research Fellow and Discovery Scientist at Abbott, who works on the forefront of infant nutrition in the field of immune health. "Based on more than 15 years of pre-clinical and clinical peer-reviewed research, science shows us that HMOs are one of the important factors behind breast milk’s immune system-boosting properties."
Supporting Immune System Development Is Essential
When it comes to cold and flu prevention, washing your hands before holding your baby and avoiding close contact with anyone showing flu-like symptoms will always be important precautions, according to Norman Moore, Ph.D., Director of Scientific Affairs, Infectious Disease at Abbott — but the importance of boosting your baby's immune system shouldn't be overlooked.
"The number one thing I wish all parents knew about cold and flu season is that the earliest stages of life are key for developing their baby’s immune system," says Tiffany DeWitt, RD and Senior Research Scientist at Abbott, specializing in infant growth and development. DeWitt explains that it is important to call your doctor if you notice a change in the amount of formula or breast milk your baby consumes, to ensure they’re staying nourished and hydrated. She also urges parents to keep themselves healthy during cold and flu season, by consuming important nutrients such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and vitamin C found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats.
Learn These Common Symptoms
Familiarizing yourself with telltale signs of the flu in babies will help you ensure you're taking the best next steps if you suspect your little one is coming down with something. "The most common symptoms of the flu in babies under 6 months of age are fever, chills, fatigue and weakness, and coughing," Moore says.
Then Know How To React
Noticing any of the above symptoms could very well throw you for a loop, especially if you're noticing your baby is sick for the first time. "If your baby starts to experience flu-like symptoms, visit your doctor’s office or an urgent care clinic right away to be tested for the flu," Moore says. "If flu symptoms are caught early, antiviral medication can help lessen the severity and duration of the flu, and are typically approved for babies two weeks and older." Moore also advises that keeping your baby hydrated is an important early action when you notice your infant is showing signs of the flu.
This post is sponsored by Similac.