If you've recently brought home a new baby to join your family, you're probably very familiar of the risk of germs to a tiny person's immune system. Winter is an impossibly difficult time to bring home a brand new baby, because the threat of colds and the flu seem to lurk around every corner. If your older child does happen to catch a bug, here's how to prevent the flu from spreading from your sick kid to your baby, or anyone else in your home, for that matter.
While it's pretty difficult to eradicate germs when it comes to toddlers or kids, there are several things you can do to protect your baby from catching the flu from an older sibling, like having your older children immunized and ensuring they wash their hands as often as humanly possible.
The best way to prevent your baby from contracting the flu in the first place is to have everyone else in the home get a flu shot. The March of Dimes suggested that while babies younger than 6 months shouldn't get flu shots, "parents and other family members need a flu shot to help protect young babies from the flu." Protecting your entire family can also help keep those at high risk from getting the flu, such as people older than 65 or children younger than 4.
If your baby is older than 6 months, he can get a flu shot but it won't protect him until about six weeks after he has the second dose. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) explained that kids under the age of 9 who haven't had a flu shot before need two doses of the vaccine to provide protection: "The first dose “primes” the immune system; the second dose provides immune protection."
If your family has been hit with the flu and hasn't gotten the flu shot yet this year, the second best way to protect your baby from catching it is to make sure everyone is washing their hands often. The March of Dimes also explained, "Your baby can get infected with the flu if she breathes the virus in or if she touches something (like a toy) that has the flu virus on it and then touches her nose, eyes or mouth." That means keeping toys separate and disinfected before your baby touches them is very important.
Healthline has a host of helpful tips for containing sickness and preventing it from spreading around your family. They suggested keeping your sick kid away from other family members if possible for up to a week after they begin to show symptoms and teaching children to cough into their elbows instead of into their hands. They also offered a primer on hand washing, because "all hand washing is not equal." You'll want to make sure your whole family is following these four steps: "Run warm water over your hands, add soap, scrub for at least 20 seconds, rinse and dry."
Hand sanitizer can be a substitute for hand washing, but only when you're not able to find somewhere to wash your hands. However, apparently not all hand sanitizers are created equal either. Your hand sanitizer should contain at least 60 percent alcohol for it to be most effective, according to Healthline. Kids should wash their hands after using the bathroom, before eating, and after coming home from school, the park, or playing with friends.
In order to stem the spread, you'll also want to continue to disinfect your home when you have a little one with the flu. WebMd suggested wiping down hard surfaces, toys, television remotes, and door and fridge handles. "Some germs can live in these spots for up to 24 hours, so make sure you clean with a disinfectant or disinfecting wipes, or 1/4 cup of bleach mixed in 1 gallon of water."
All in all, there is no guarantee that is safe from the flu, especially if someone in the household is infected, but with some diligence, but these protective measures can help keep the virus at bay.
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