As the weather gets colder, it’s inevitable that your bub will be exposed to some of the season’s bugs and viruses. Here’s how you can help give their immune system a boost.
There’s much to love about Australian winters – crisp, clear blue-sky days are a personal favourite – but the coughs, fevers and snotty noses that make their seasonal rounds are no-one’s idea of fun, least of all parents of small children.
In their first year alone, babies average around eight colds (perhaps more if they’re at day care) and many of the viruses responsible for colds, flu and other conditions like croup and bronchiolitis thrive during the winter months. For unlucky parents, this can mean weeks of dealing with a grizzly bub and disrupted sleep, not to mention gross encounters with a bulb syringe (that weird contraption that sucks mucous from a baby’s nose).
Aside from wrapping your little one in a protective bubble for the entire season, it’s not possible to avoid every virus that comes their way, particularly as many of the common winter strains are airborne. That said, there is plenty you can do to improve their odds of staying healthy.
Fending off germs
You’ll have noticed how your little one thinks nothing of drooling on her toys before sharing them with her friends. Those cute little mitts of hers are in and out of her mouth too, creating ideal conditions for bugs to spread. Regular hand washing is one simple but effective way to stop germs in their tracks, particularly after playtime, when your bub comes home from day care and before she touches food. A good dousing with soap and water will do the trick – after all, antibacterial hand washes won’t zap viruses.
If you’ve already started introducing solids into your baby’s diet, a few tweaks here and there can help to charge up his immune system. Opt for a variety of healthy foods with a good mix of fruits and veggies, especially those high in antioxidants, like broccoli and blueberries. Steamed, bite-sized florets make for a great finger food, while blueberries can easily be whizzed up into your bub’s morning porridge. Blitzing veggies into soups or pasta sauces is another good way to up his nutritional intake.
Sleep like a baby
While it’s often easier said than done, making sure your baby gets enough sleep will also give her a better chance of keeping bugs at bay. Likewise, scheduling in extra naps if she seems under the weather may help to lessen the duration of a cold. If you can, it’s a good idea to make the most of these moments to relax and recharge your own batteries too. After all, the only thing worse than dealing with a sick baby is when you’re sick at the same time!
Wrapping up warm
Unfortunately, bundling your bub up like an Eskimo isn’t an easy answer to fighting off infection – he may look adorable, but studies have shown that exposure to chilly weather doesn’t increase a child’s likelihood of catching a cold. A few extra layers will help to keep him cosy though and can easily be peeled off if he’s active and getting too warm. And while scientists have debunked the myth that we lose half our body heat from our heads, your bub will still lose up to around 10 per cent if his head isn’t covered – justification enough to get out that cute beanie you were given as a gift months ago!
Keeping up with the recommended immunisation schedule will also help to protect your bub from more serious childhood illnesses and, once he hits six months of age, you can choose to get him vaccinated against the flu. Unless you qualify for a free vaccine; for instance, if your bub has a specific medical condition, you’ll have to pay for the shot at your doctor’s – just make sure it’s a brand suitable for use in infants.
As far as all the other winter viruses go, you can take some relief in the knowledge that when your bub does get sick, that’s one more bug they’ve built up some immunity to.
About the author – Jo Sharp:
Jo has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years. Based in Sydney, she covers both business and lifestyle topics and has written numerous articles about pregnancy and parenting. When she’s not glued to her laptop, she can be found out and about in Bondi with her two kids
Great winter meal options:
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