If you have an infant or toddler, you are probably worried about the Swine Flu and the effect it could have on your child. Young children are less resistant to germs because their immune system is still developing. Those with underlying health problems are at higher risk of becoming sick with any bacteria or virus, not just the Swine Flu.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Child:
Besides worry, which doesn't do anyone any good, there are things you can do to help protect your baby or toddler from the flu.
- Breastfeed. If you are breastfeeding, keep doing so! If you are partially formula feeding, try to increase your milk supply so that you can breastfeed more often or pump so that someone can feed your baby breast milk when you are not around. Remember that breast milk provides built-in immunity at every feeding! If you become ill, your body provides your baby with antibodies that protect him from the germs that made you sick.
- If you are exclusively formula feeding, choose one that has added nucleotides or other additions that promote immune health.
- If you are breastfeeding, make sure you are giving the AAP recommended 400 IU of vitamin D every day. Vitamin D is very important for the immune system. For older children, let their skin see the sun unprotected a few minutes 3 times a week.
- Let your baby get the rest he needs; it's important for the immune system. Set your schedule so that your baby's nap time is not interrupted.
- Feed him well. If your baby is eating solids, make sure his diet is full of fruits and vegetables; they provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants important for the immune system. Also don't forget whole grains, lean red meat and seafood; they provide zinc and iron, also needed for the immune system to function well.
- Wash your hands; wash your baby's hands--after using the restroom, changing a diaper, blowing his or your nose, etc. Keep lotion by the sink to use after washing to prevent hands from getting dried and cracked; this also lets bacteria in. To be effective against germs, hand-washing has to last 20 seconds--one time through of the "ABC" song.
- Wipe down solid surfaces and wash toys. Use a weak bleach solution or put toys in the top rack of the dishwasher. Use an antibacterial wipe to wipe off door handles, telephones at work, etc.
- Take your own pen to use when out; you don't know how many people used the pen before you.
- Watch where you take your baby. Don't take him to crowded areas where there are more likely to be sick people. Stay away from hospitals and Dr.'s offices unless he is the patient.
- Take care of yourself too. Sometimes parents are so busy taking care of their kids, they don't take good care of their own health. If you get sick, who will be able to take care of the baby?! So eat well--5-9 fruits and veggies a day, take time for exercise and relaxation and get your 8 hours of sleep. The housework can definitely wait another day!