The flu season can be a very frightening time for parents with an infant or toddler. The flu is a very contagious virus that can lead to hospitalization and many times death. In the 2009-2010 flu season alone there were 285 pediatric deaths. Forty nine of those children were under the age of two. Many of those deaths, 85 percent to be exact, were caused by the H1N1 flu virus. Knowing the most crucial flu prevention tips can save many babies and toddlers from contracting this very serious virus.
It is crucial that all children over the age of six months get vaccinated. It may be hard to watch your child get vaccinated, but it is critical they get the flu vaccination every year. If you have a baby under the age of 6 months it is important that everyone in contact with her get vaccinated. This helps prevent the flu from spreading and coming in contact with your baby. It is extremely important that children with chronic illnesses get the flu vaccination as well. Viruses like the flu can have greater damage on babies and toddlers with a preexisting illness.
Washing hands frequently for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap is vital. It is important to remember to wash your hands before you feed, prepare a bottle, or touch your child’s face, etc. Do not be ashamed to ask family members to wash their hands or use a sanitizer before holding your baby. Even if they do not exhibit any signs of an illness, they may have come in contact with the flu and spread it to your infant or toddler. If a family member is ill, kindly ask them not to visit until they are well to prevent any chances of spreading the flu or any other illness to your child. Washing your baby or toddlers hands is important since they are apt to touching their face and putting their hands in their mouth. If you are out in a public place you can wipe your child’s hands with a wipe or carry a baby-safe sanitizer. It is also important to prohibit strangers from touching your child, it is not worth the risk of your baby becoming infected with the flu.
Shopping carts carry many illnesses and lots of children sit in them on a daily basis making them more susceptible to contracting the flu. Before your child touches the cart sanitize the entire area your baby can touch including the seat with a wipe. While shopping if you let your baby or toddler touch a toy do not let him put the toy in his mouth and do not allow your baby to put his hands in his mouth or around his face, until they are thoroughly cleaned with a wipe or a safe sanitizer. Also if you buy a toy, clean the entire toy before allowing your toddler to play with it. When dining out, it is best to take a portable booster seat with you; it is a much cleaner option than using the public high chairs or booster seats that rarely see any kind of disinfection. If you do not have one or forget yours, sanitize the public seat before allowing your child to touch it or sit in it.
“Seasonal Influenza” CDC
“Actions To Fight The Flu” CDC