This year’s flu has become more intense than any since the scare of the swine flu (H1N1) back in 2009. And, now that it is February, we are in the heart of flu season. Before having children, parents likely weren’t too concerned about the arrival or the influenza virus, as they only had to worry about taking care of themselves. However, with a precious little one in the picture, parents are much more cautious and protective of their baby. Children under the age of five, specifically babies and infants, are the most vulnerable to serious flu-related complications. From dehydration and pneumonia to chronic conditions, like heart disease, asthma, and sinus issues commonly send little ones to the hospital each flu season. Babies under the age of six months are at the greatest risk of these chronic complications, and it is for that reason why parents are so protective about the inevitable arrival of the flu virus. To help parents, we put together an informational guide to the flu in babies and infants
WHY ARE BABIES AT A HIGHER RISK?
According to research done by the CDC, because their immune systems are not yet developed, children under five years old, especially babies and infants, are at a higher risk of catching the influenza virus. In addition, there are other leading factors that make children susceptible to flu.
Increased germ exposure. Schools, nurseries, and daycares are notoriously known to be crawling with germs. Children share the germs from their family and other friends if parents do not pay close attention to their hygiene habits, like not washing hands, putting hands in their mouth, etc.
Insufficient vaccine options. There is still not a flu vaccination currently available for infants that are younger than six months old. Flu vaccines are available for children over the age of six months.
Difficulty with early diagnosis. Young children, especially babies, often do not have the ability to clearly observe and explain that something is wrong with their body.
Because babies and infants are more susceptible to the flu virus, parents should always remain aware of the health complications that could affect their infant. Parents need to learn about the symptoms to keep an eye out for and immediately contact their pediatrician if they fell their child is acting differently than normal.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
For adults, it’s not difficult to identify flu symptoms. Aching muscles, a high fever, headaches, and sore throats are all common signs of the flu that can easily be pinpointed. However, as mentioned above, babies are unable to communicate that they have a headache or a fever. Because of this, it can be a challenge for parents to determine if their baby is sick with the flu, or another illness with similar symptoms, like the common cold. Parents should be on the lookout for the following symptoms in their infants, seeking medical attention if any are existing:
- Consistent coughing
- Difficulty breathing
- Pale or bluish skin
- Not drinking enough liquids
- Unwillingness or inability to feed
- Vomiting a lot
- Runny nose
- High fever
- Rash that won’t go away
- Irritated eyes
WAYS TO PROTECT INFANTS FROM THE FLU
With as bad as the flu season is, parents have a reason to be worried. Fortunately, there are plenty of steps and precautions parents can take to help protect their little one from catching the influenza bug. Check out some things parents can do to protect their children.
Avoid sick people. The influenza virus can easily be passed from person to person or from person to object, and vice versa. Because the flu can be passed so easily with contact, it is essential for infants to avoid those who are sick. Even someone with a cough could put the child at a greater risk of getting sick. This may mean staying inside, but when you have children that touch everything in sight and are just too cute not to hold, its a much better option than having a baby sick with the flu.
Keep hands clean. While washing your hands is essential for remaining healthy all year, it is is crucial to ensure both parents and their baby’s hands are kept clean. At the first chance, the flu virus is picked up in public by touching a contaminated surface; the virus can easily be transferred if the infant touches their eyes, mouth, and nose. Parents should ensure their hands are clean before touching their child as well as ensuring that their child’s hands are cleaned.
Disinfect surfaces and objects. Flu germs sometimes stay on surfaces for 24 hours! During the flu season, parents should disinfect surfaces and objects in public and at home. Disinfecting shopping carts and doorknobs in public and counter surfaces, toys, and other objects at home are great practices that parents can do to help prevent their child from getting sick.
Keep babies covered. While it is best to stay inside during flu season, there are times when parents will need to bring their baby out in public. When this happens, parents will want to ensure their baby is protected by being efficiently covered. It is best to try keeping a baby covered in their carrier or stroller while out in public. Be sure they are dressed warm enough for the weather, and try to limit their time out of a carrier or stroller when in a public setting.
SUPPLIES ESSENTIAL FOR SURVIVING FLU SEASON
When flu season arrives, parents with an infant or a baby should be fully prepared. When flu season approaches, parents should consider stocking up on the following supplies, essential for surviving the flu season and sick children:
Thermometer: A working thermometer is essential when parents have a sick child, especially when flu season strikes. Using thermometers will allow parents to detect whether or not their child has a fever, one of the major flu symptoms.
Humidifier: Flu season is a dry time, and it’s important to add moisture to a sick child’s room while their sleeping. Humidifiers help ease congestion, coughing, and sore throats.
Fever Reducers: Having children’s Motrin and acetaminophen on hand will have parents readily prepared when a fever hits in the middle of the flu season.
The oogiebear: When cold and flu season hits, babies and infants are likely to become congested. Congested babies can have trouble breathing and parents need to find ways to relieve congestion in their child. The oogiebear is a booger scooper that allows parents to effectively remove boogers from their baby’s nose. With this baby booger removal tool, parents can easily and safely clean their baby’s nose, freeing them of congestion.
Hopefully this guide has been helpful and will come in handy the next time your infant becomes sick with the flu. Remember, if a sick baby doesn’t show improvement over a couple of days, or if the parents are worried, the baby should be brought to a doctor. Be sure to follow our blog for additional parenting and baby care tips, and for an effective baby nose cleaner, parents need to order the oogiebear!