There are so many variables about keeping your preemie healthy, especially during flu season. The thing to remember, though, is that some of those variables may be more controllable than you thought.
Don’t Smoke and Stay Away from Smoke
Tobacco smoke, especially secondhand smoke, can damage your baby’s lungs and make her more susceptible to lung infections and to possibly getting sick from other people’s germs. If you smoke, make sure that you keep smoke away from the baby. Smoke outside and put on a jacket or coat that you don’t bring into the baby’s presence. Quitting smoking can be the best way to minimize smoke exposure, but that’s definitely difficult to do.
Avoid Big Crowds, if Possible
People love to meet new babies, but the problem is that people bring all kinds of germs with them. They don’t mean to, but their immune systems are strong enough that they don’t even know that they’re carrying anything. Taking your baby out in public, especially to somewhere extremely crowded, exposes her to even more germs. Limiting her exposure to lots of people can help to reduce the risk that she’ll encounter germs she doesn’t have the ability to fight off just yet.
Look into Vaccines
Vaccines, for you and for other family members who spend time around your baby, are an excellent idea. Talk to your doctor about whether a flu vaccine or other immunizations are a good fit for your health situation. It’s also a good idea to talk to your pediatrician about the RSV vaccine for your baby. These shots can help to reduce the risk that your baby will contract respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, if exposed to it. There may be factors that contraindicate this vaccine for your baby, so make sure to talk to your baby’s doctor first.
Handwashing Is the Single Most Important Task
The very best way to prevent illnesses is via handwashing. Simple handwashing removes the majority of germs that you and your baby are likely to come into contact with during a normal day. You need to use plain soap and warm water. Make sure to rub your hands for at least 30 seconds and rinse well. Hand sanitizers can be effective in a pinch. Washing your hands often removes germs that could make you or your baby sick.
Parenting special needs children, like premature babies, might mean that you’re taking some steps that you might not have taken with a child that wasn’t special needs. Overall keeping your preemie healthy during flu season is about doing what you can to manage the situation.