Worrying about sickness when you have a newborn is always a concern of my new mama clients. This seems to be amplified during the holidays, when there are so many other outside factors to take into consideration. During this time of joy and germs so many parents want to know:
How can I keep my newborn healthy
this holiday season?
It’s not as hard it seems once you have the proper mindset and you come up with ways to work around it all. Having the right tools at home, taking proper self care, being smart and practical about obligations and having *boundaries*(our favorite postpartum word) in place will help during this crazy time.
Protect Yourself First
During the postpartum period you should already have self care at the forefront of priorities, and this is especially important during the holiday sick season. Preventative care can make a tremendous difference in how your body handles sick season, so it’s up to you to make sure you’re covering all of your bases!
Are Vaccinations Right For You?
I know that vaccinations are a hot topic, and a very personal one, but it might be worth it to take a look into vaccinations and make sure that you, your family and relatives are covered in a way that makes you feel personally comfortable. If vaccinations are something that you don’t endorse, then the other steps outlined below are going to be even more crucial!
Breastfeed if Possible
If you are able to breastfeed, there is no better time than sick season to keep it up. Breast milk will help protect your baby from outside germs and germs in the event you catch a cold. Your breast milk will give your baby EXACTLY what they need, and will protect them in more ways than you can imagine. For this reason alone it’s s great idea to breastfeed through the holidays.
Boost Immunity Care
When I became a postpartum doula and had my first night shift family at the end of October, I got so sick when it was over. My body absolutely was not prepared for the demands of a newborn! Now I make sure to add in a lot of extra care with the help of vitamins, fermented foods, garlic, elderberry syrup and a host of other helpful hacks. Taking proper self care is only going to benefit you and your baby and help fight of sickness for you both.
Walk Outside with Baby
Even if the weather is on the chillier side, try and get out for a walk for at least 20 minutes a day if your doctor permits that. The fresh air will stimulate you both, and the slow-paced exercise will get your blood pumping ever so slightly. If you’re worried about the cold, just make sure that you have your baby bundled properly with extra layers because while you’re moving, they aren’t!
Smart Home Health
It would be worthwhile to run through the rooms in your home to make sure that you are doing everything possible to ensure germs are at bay, rest is had and everyone is happy and healthy!
Keep Helpful Products on Hand
Making sure you have the necessary medicine cabinet items just in case someone falls ill is smart, but so is keeping items that you can take at the first sign of sickness. I suggest keeping a list of basic sick necessities and then making sure that you have them on hand all of the time – staples and then the specifics.
A Hospitable Nursery
The temperature in your baby’s nursery should remain stable, as babies have a harder time regulating their body temperatures. Ideally 60-68F is a good range for comfort. Adding a humidifier can also add some much needed moisture to help keep your baby’s breathing lubricated. Making sure that your baby is in proper attire (not too hot, but, generally speaking, one more layer than we would wear comfortably) is also helpful in keeping them regulated.
Good Rest for Baby Regardless of Plans
Even though it is the holiday season, and you might be tempted to let go of the tight grip on rest and routine, I urge you to think twice. Sure, an outing or two where you might skip a nap or get settled later on in the evening is completely fine, but I strongly suggest keeping a consistent and conservative routine during the holiday sick season. Allowing your baby to get ample rest assists in their ability to eat, it keeps them happier and overall less grumpy. Do your best to respect that and plan your events accordingly!
Healthy Habits to Incorporate
It’s never too late to go over some of the tried and true habits that should always be used around a newborn baby, sick season or not!
Handwashing for EVERYONE!
It’s the most effective way to stop germs from spreading, but it’s not enough for you to be the only one practicing. In addition to washing your hands regularly, wash your baby’s hands too! Make sure that everyone who visits is kindly directed to the sink that carries a nice antibacterial soap when they arrive for a group wash session before letting everyone ooh and ahh while holding your little one. You can also ask, very politely, “Have you been sick?” before handing your baby off as well. No one will be insulted if you do this, I promise!
I have a lot of clients who are very strict about the no kissing rule for the first couple of months, minus the most immediate of family, and then only on the head and very limited. This seems to work very well for them!
Smart Public Outings
While it is suggested to avoid crowded public areas for the first 4 weeks, sometimes the time comes when you have no other option but to bear the crowds and venture out with your baby. Have no fear, there are still very safe ways to do so to make sure your baby is protected from the germs of crowds!
Extra Precaution in Public
People everywhere have a natural instinct to want to get up close and personal with your newborns, and for this reason alone I suggest a car seat cover. It will not only protect your baby from airborne illnesses, but it also keeps strangers at a healthy distance, ie not in your baby’s face! It’s also wise to make sure you have wipes and sanitizing spray in your travel bag prior to leaving the house, as well as a few extra blankets in case you need to hold your baby and still want the layer of protection. Using a baby carrier in larger places that you might be in for awhile with a light muslin blanket over it is also a fantastic way to get your personal space and keep your baby hidden from exposure.
Killing bacteria in spots where dirty hands might go is key during sick season. I always have a stash of antibacterial hand wipes AND antibacterial surface wipes. Wiping off handles, doorknobs, your own hands and dirty surfaces decreases the chance that they will land on your baby.
To keep the body in health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. ~Buddah
The most important thing during the sick season with a newborn is to trust your gut! If you think going to a certain place is asking for illness to catch you, skip it for this year. If you’re sure Aunt Mary is sick, but she says it’s nothing, follow your gut and kindly explain why you think it’s best to skip. This is your first holiday with your incredible human, and you owe it to yourself and to them to make it happy and healthy!
Looking for More?
The video above is a quick overview with tips on keeping your newborn healthy during the holidays.
CDC’s information on how to stay healthy and safe during the holiday is very informative!
A great write up on common colds and some inexpensive hacks to help sickness along.
Looking for natural immunity boosters? Natureal Mom’s list and explanations are spot on.
Medicine Cabinet Must Haves is a handy infographic on the most helpful sick baby items to stock in a traditional medicine cabinet.
Although on the pricier end, I am in scent love with the smell of this hand sanitizer in the travel size.