The COVID-19 pandemic has made parents more concerned over their children’s health. This might be particularly true for parents of babies, who are more susceptible to getting sick. This might be because their immune system is immature as it has not yet learned how to fight pathogens, as a previous SmartParenting.com.pharticle explains.
To boost your baby’s immunity to COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, here are some things you can try:
Breastfeed, if possible
It’s no secret that breastfeeding is one of the best ways to protect an infant’s health, which is why moms are recommended to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months if possible. In another Smart Parentingarticle, Dr. Teresa Ribano, DPPS, IBCLC, ABM, explains that breast milk is a “superfood” for babies. “It’s the best nutrition an infant will be able to get, and it serves as the first immunization.”
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Let your baby rest
Kathi Kemper, M.D., director of the Center for Holistic Pediatric Education and Research at Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts, U.S.A., tellsParents that just like in adults, sleep deprivation in children can lead to higher susceptibility to illness since it reduces the body’s natural killer cells. According to the National Sleep Foundation, newborns ages 0 to three months need 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day, while infants ages four to 11 months need 12 to 16 hours of sleep per day, including nap times.
If your baby is old enough to be eating solids, try to make sure the foods you give him are nutritious. Dr. Gina Posner, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in California, U.S.A., tellsRomper that a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables will help provide your baby the vitamins and minerals he needs for his immune system to work well.
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Practice hand hygiene and cough etiquette
Before you touch your baby, don’t forget to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Remember to also cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throw the tissue right away. These practices help minimize the spread of not only COVID-19 but different kinds of contagious respiratory illnesses.
Stay in touch with your doctors
The best people to consult if you have any concerns about your baby’s health are your OB-Gyn and your baby’s pediatrician. While it is currently not advised to go out, there are now doctors who practice telemedicine, so you can still consult them whenever you need to.
Avoid asking your pediatrician to prescribe an antibiotic if you think your child has a respiratory illness. Antibiotics will only treat bacteria-caused diseases and most childhood diseases are caused by viruses, as Dr. Howard Bauchner, a professor of pediatrics and public health at the Boston University School of Medicine, explains to Parents. Self-medicating can also lead to antibiotic resistance, which makes infections more difficult to cure.