Dr Alexandra Camilleri Warne is a paediatrician in Malta. She’s here to answer your questions on newborns, toddler health and everything in between. In our third instalment of this series, we ask about the dreaded nursery illnesses and how to avoid viruses from spreading to the entire family.
Because, let’s face it – we’ve all been there and it ain’t pretty!
Why do nursery illnesses spread to the entire family?
Siblings attending nursery/school may bring disease as they are carriers or because they manifest it as well. This can pass onto other adult family members and onto the more vulnerable newborn babies. Babies are especially susceptible to infection since their immune symptoms aren’t as developed as older children.
Is there a way to avoid this?
Here are some tips to help prevent nursery illnesses from spreading during your infant’s first year of life:
It is very important to keep these up to date. Also, be sure to get the annual influenza shot for the whole family, including babies aged over 6 months.
Frequent handwashing is the single most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of germs. This is now instilled in our children more than ever thanks to Covid-19. Still, an occasional gentle reminder never hurt anyone.
3. How to cough and sneeze
Teach your child to cough or sneeze into their elbow. Ensure that they immediately throw used tissues away.
4. No sharing
Keep frequently-played-with toys out of baby’s reach. Not only can these be a choking hazard, but they can also spread germs. Clean them at the end of the day. Also, make sure the older sibling doesn’t handle things like the baby’s bottle, pacifier or teether.
5. Change clothes
Dirt and bacteria can adhere to clothing, so it’s important to have nursery or school-age children change clothes as soon as they get home.
6. Establish contact rules
To hinder the spread of germs, limit kissing to the top of the head or the baby’s feet.
If you are breastfeeding, continue to do so even when you or someone else in the household is sick. You should continue to nurse through illnesses such as a cold, sore throat, flu, stomach bug or fever. Chances are, your baby was already exposed before you showed systems. Mother’s milk will provide antibodies specifically tailored to help your baby fight off the illness. There are only a few serious illnesses that might require a mom to stop breastfeeding for a period of time or permanently. But this you can discuss with your paediatrician.
Read more from Dr. Alexandra Camilleri Warne MD, MRCPCH (UK) in these articles:
For more expert advice relating to pregnancy, birth, and beyond, check out our Island Experts section. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss out on all our local parenting content.
This information is being provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as official medical advice.