It is a parent’s worst nightmare: they have just given birth to this tiny, perfect human being and they get sick. We never want our children to get sick, but we especially do not want our babies to get sick. It is especially dangerous for our newborns to get sick, but it can happen, and it can be easier than you thought.
Newborns are new, I mean it is right there in the name. They are not used to our world and germs and all sorts of things are new to their fragile system. They just spent 9 months inside your womb, which is an incredibly sterile place. They are safe from germs and illnesses, and when they come out it can be quite a shock to their system. All the sights, sounds and smells can really be a huge thing for them to get used to.
This means that their immune system is new, and their body has only just started its journey in learning how to protect itself from common bugs and germs. It takes time for their immune system to develop to the point where it can protect the baby from getting sick. Until that point, it is up to the parents to help make sure that the little one stays healthy.
The problem is it is really easy for a newborn to get sick, so we must be extra diligent in how we protect them. We have found 10 ways newborns can get sick, and they are so simple it is shocking. We wouldn’t leave you completely helpless though, so we also have 5 ways mom and dad can help prevent any illnesses from making their way to baby.
15 Too Cold?
When babies are in the womb it is always the perfect temperature. They are never too hot or too cold, they are always just right. When they enter the world, their body needs to learn to regulate their temperature and adjust to the varying temperatures in the outside world. If a baby gets too cold, it is an easy way for them to get ill.
When you do skin-to-skin immediately after the baby is born, it is a great way to make sure that their little body learns to regulate their own temperature. When you can not be skin-to-skin it is important to make sure that you dress them appropriately. The rule of thumb is always to put on one more layer than you have on. When checking their temperature never use their hands or feet to judge if they are too cold. Those parts will commonly feel cold and then you may end up overdressing them. The best place to judge a baby’s temperature is to use their torso or the back of their neck. That is where the most accurate readings are.
14 Kissed By A Stranger
Babies are adorable, we all love them and one of the first things we all want to do is give them all the kisses in the world. This is a big NO-NO and is one of the easiest ways for your little one to get sick. Mom and dad are OK. They can kiss the baby because it is their baby and they can do whatever they want. It is important that mom and dad do not let anyone kiss their baby, especially on the mouth. Most common colds and illnesses are passed through saliva, and a person can be a carrier before they even start to show any symptoms.
There is no better or easier way to pass that illness on to the baby than kissing them on the mouth. It is not only colds that you have to worry about, cold sores are another thing that can be passed on to baby by kissing them on the mouth. All of these ailments may not seem like a big deal to an adult, but to a new baby they can be deadly.
13 Taking Them Out In Public
If we think that the hospital is a strange and new place, then the outside world is going to be even more intimidating. The hospital is somewhat under control, and you can place some trust in the fact that is should be clean and sterile. You can not say the same for the outside world. One of the easiest ways the baby could get sick is if you take them out in public too soon and too often.
We know that mom can not stay inside forever, sheltering her baby, but in the first few weeks it is important that she does this. She should have a partner, friend or family member assigned to go out and do some chores for her like groceries and other errands. If mom does this for the first little bit (at least) than it will further protect her baby from a world full of germs and bacteria.
12 Coughing Etiquette
We all learned growing up the proper way to wash our hands, sneeze and cough. The best way to do it to make sure that nothing is spread. How many of us continue to follow these guidelines? Probably not a lot of us, because we just don’t think about it. Not covering up properly when you cough is an easy way for a newborn to get sick. Let’s review the proper way.
The best way to cover your mouth when you cough, or sneeze is to place your mouth in the inner crook of your elbow. When you cough or sneeze in your hands, you have just transferred all those germs onto your hand which will then proceed to touch everything. We all know to wash our hands, but sometimes we just don’t think about washing up after every single time we sneeze or cough. If you don’t cover at all, it is best to never go visit that newborn.
11 Sick Visitors At Hospital
The most vulnerable time for your newborn is right after they are born. That is because they are really new and are just getting used to all the new airborne particles floating around. If you gave birth in a hospital you may think that you are in the cleanest place. While this may be true, the hospital is full of really sick people. Luckily, they keep it pretty locked down on the maternity ward to try and avoid your newborn getting sick.
You have a role to play too, you must make sure no one comes to see your little one when they are not feeling well. This includes people who juts have a tickle in their throat. Your new baby is vulnerable to catch all illnesses and there is no reason people can not wait until they feel better to visit with your new little one. Your nurses will be your best friend and can sometimes act as a buffer if you do not want to come across as rude to your visitors.
10 Wash Your Hands!
One of the simplest reasons why newborns get sick is because people do not wash their hands. It is so simple that it is often overlooked. Something as simple as making visitors as well as yourself wash their hands is enough to protect your little one. Whenever someone wants to hold your baby, it is important to make sure they wash their hands. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is.
Think about it, on the way to visit you, how many things did their hands come in contact with? Car doors, keys, and all the handles in the hospital. All of these things are large carriers or unwanted germs, and that is just a few of the things they may have touched. It is such an easy way for a newborn to get sick. If you are worried people will think you are a crazy, protective mother, don’t be. You are the one who will need to take care of a sick baby, not them.
9 Did You Sanitize?
I remember a time when there wasn’t hand sanitizer everywhere and I am sure a lot of you did as well. Hand sanitizer is an easy way to get most germs off your hands. By not sanitizing you may just be waiting for your little one to get sick. Washing hands is a great step, but it does not get rid of all the germs that could be laying on your hands. A quick squirt of hand sanitizer will help take care of the rest, or the germs that may be hiding in your nail beds.
You also want to make sure that a baby’s bottles and pacifiers are sanitized. Basically, anything that goes in their mouth needs to be sanitized. That is because any airborne germ can settle on them and then get transferred directly into their mouth. You don’t need any of the expensive sanitizing machines either. Boiling bottle and nipples in water for 5 minutes is enough to kill all germs and bacteria that have settled on them.
8 Wash Your Clothes
Washing our clothes doesn’t always seem like something that would be that important, but it is. Just as it is important to wash our hands, it is important to make sure our clothes are washed as well. Germs and bacteria are crafty little guys, and they can latch on to most any surface. Then those clothes that you were wearing are now infected and you are about to hold that little baby close.
The best thing to do to prevent this, or lessen it, is to have an ‘outside’ sweater or pullover. If you are in the hospital and need to go outside or to get food, put a shirt on that you can take off before you interact with the baby. Same with at home, have a separate piece of clothing designated to be worn out in public that you can remove before you get all snuggly with that little bundle of joy.
7 Being Too Docile
One of the easiest reasons newborns get sick is because mom is being too docile and not channeling her inner mama bear. Protect your baby. In a world where it is very hard to be a mom, she may be worried people will judge her for being an overbearing and overprotective mom. This is not something mom should be worried about, and it is not something she should be judged on. After all, we are talking about a newborn here and not a 5-year old.
Mom will need to toughen up and not be afraid to tell Aunt Gertrude not to kiss her baby on the lips after she had a cigarette or tell Uncle Bert to leave the room when he is not feeling well. These are all ways that a newborn can get ill, and it is moms job to protect her baby and stand up for situations that could be dangerous.
6 Mom Is Sick
Probably the easiest way to ensure you get a sick newborn is when you have a sick mom. Mom and baby spend a lot of time together, bonding and breastfeeding. If mom gets sick it may be only a matter of time before that baby gets ill as well. This may be the most difficult one to conquer as it is quite easy for mom to fall ill when she is taking care of a newborn.
She is already sleep deprived which is known to lessen the immune system. She is probably not eating properly and is just so overwhelmed. It is the perfect breeding ground for an illness to pop up. Because she spends so much of the time holding and kissing her newborn, it makes sense that the baby will get sick as well. We will discuss in the next few entries how to prevent these situations from happening, which may be the most important of all.
5 Prevent It By Vaccinating
There is no point in just talking about ways babies get sick if we don’t also talk about ways to protect them from illnesses. One of the best ways to protect them from illnesses is to make sure they get their vaccinations. A baby normally does not receive any vaccinations until they are 2-months old, but that is still considered a newborn and these shots are very important.
We have mostly been talking about common colds and flus affecting our baby, but there are illnesses out there that our newborn can catch that can be fatal to the little babies. The 2-month shots are their first round of many to come, and it helps prevent them against tetanus, whooping cough and many others that can be extremely dangerous and fatal to your baby. If you are nervous about vaccines, talk to your medical provider who can give you more information.
4 Prevent It By Breastfeeding
I know a lot of moms are getting tired of hearing ‘breast is best’ so I will try and keep this one short. The facts are that babies who are breastfed tend to have stronger immune systems. Not saying that breastfed babies never get sick, and formula fed babies always get sick, because we all know that is not true. We just know that breastfed babies get sick at a slower and less common rate. That is because mom can pass on antibodies to her baby when she breastfeeds.
If mom has a cold or an illness, her milk will change and create antibodies to pass on to the baby to help them fight the illness off before it even starts. This is a great tool for a baby who has not developed a proper immune system yet. Breastmilk is also full of natural nutrients that can lay the basis for a healthy baby who has a strong body.
3 Prevent It By Being A Mama Bear!
We have touched on it previously, but it is so important for mom to really turn into that mama bear we all hear about. That crazed woman who will do anything to protect her babies from harm. Being a mama bear doesn’t just mean sticking up for your child who is being bullied, it starts right at the beginning. It starts the moment that baby is born, and you need to protect them from any threat. A lot of moms won’t turn into a mama bear unless provoked. Meaning that if you just do what they ask, there won’t be a problem.
If you are a quieter, more peaceful person who doesn’t like to upset anyone, it is time for a change. It is time to be tough and realize that those who really care about you and your baby won’t mind following your rules. After all, it is not them who will have to care for a sick baby that could have been prevented if they just listened to you.
2 Prevent It By Staying Healthy
Mom needs to stay healthy. It is really that simple. The healthier mom stays, the higher the chances of her baby staying healthy. It may seem hard to do, as we already discussed why it is so easy for mom to fall sick. There are things mom can do to ensure that she stays as healthy as possible. Continue to take your prenatal vitamins, which will supply you with all the nutrients you may be missing. We know how hard a good and balanced meal is to come by when you bring a baby home.
Make sure you eat regularly, even if you have to order in some food. The budget goes out the window when you bring a baby home, at least for a little bit. Have your spouse or a friend prepare meals for you that can be kept in the freezer and just reheated when you need them. A healthy mom means a healthy baby.
1 Prevent It By Going To The Doctor Regularly
A lot of us, actually most of us, only go to the doctor when something is wrong. We don’t tend to go for annual wellness checks just to make sure everything is OK. This is a mistake and it could mean you get sick more often. By going to regular check-ups, you and your healthcare team can stay on top of your health and prevent any illnesses before they start.
This also goes for your baby, make sure they attend every doctor’s visit that are scheduled. There will be a lot of visits until they are at least 2, and then they slow down to every year. These are important too, not only to ensure your little one stays happy and healthy but to build a good relationship between your child and their doctor. Something so simple can prevent a lot of illnesses.