With children and babies particularly susceptible to flu, learn how to keep your family healthy this winter
As we head into winter, you might not be surprised to find yourself suffering with common flu symptoms. With over 200 common cold viruses and thousands of flu viruses around, most people will fall ill at some point over the winter period.
Researchers from the Imperial College London found that most adults will only suffer from flu twice in a decade, however, it’s thought that children are much more prone to picking up the virus. With this in mind, it’s important to flu-proof your family, particularly if you have more than one child in the household.
As cute as your little ones can be, they are super spreaders of respiratory infections. So, while we might find ourselves bedbound for a day or two when the flu hits, it can be much more serious for babies and toddlers with research showing that those with one older sibling are more than twice as likely as only-children to be hospitalised with flu, and three times more likely if they have more than one brother or sister.
For any parent, seeing your little one unwell can be a worrying time. Although babies under six months old are unable to receive the flu vaccine because their immune system is still developing, there are other ways you can protect little ones. Help to keep your family feeling healthy and happy during the colder season by learning how to minimise the risk of infection in your home, especially when it comes to siblings.
Protecting your baby from the flu
For babies who are born between July and December, the risk of catching flu is higher as they are still very young at the start of flu season. If you have the option, getting the vaccination yourself while still pregnant can help to protect young babies from infection.
If you have older children, from the age of two they too can receive a flu vaccination in the form of a nasal spray which will help to protect them from getting the flu and also from passing it on to younger members of the family.
Encourage good hygiene
When you’ve got a busy family and one child is unwell, it can be difficult to catch them when they cough or sneeze before they touch your little one or start playing with toys. Flu is very infectious, so it’s important to catch flu symptoms in tissues and bin them as well as washing hands regularly with soap and warm water to help prevent it from spreading too.
Try making up a song to encourage younger children to follow these simple steps. Seeing this as a fun game with mummy or daddy singing along will mean they are much more likely to take part.
Focus your cleaning
Trying to look after sick children and keeping the house clean is a hard task. To stop germs from spreading in the home, try to focus your cleaning efforts on the areas where they are more likely to spread to other members of the family, and in particular your baby. Wash hard or plastic toys and pop any soft toys in the washing machine. Clothes should also be washed at 60 degrees to eliminate germs.
It is well known that humidifiers are useful to soothe the symptoms of colds by adding moisture to the air which can help soothe dry tickly coughs. However, humidifiers can also play a role in protecting your child from the flu in the first place.
By maintaining the moisture levels between 40-60% in your baby’s room, humidifiers can keep the air at optimal levels for reducing the survival of flu viruses on surfaces and in the air.
Help! I think my baby has the flu
If you think your baby may have the flu, this will naturally be a very worrying time for you. Flu symptoms can be quite similar to the symptoms of other illnesses, such as a cold. However, if your baby gets a fever, it’s important to seek medical advice.
Thankfully, taking your baby’s temperature needn’t add to your worry, as Braun ThermoScan® 7 Ear thermometer with Age Precision® offers age-adjustable fever guidance which takes the guesswork out of interpreting a child’s temperature. What’s more, by using the Braun Hygiene caps disposable probe covers or the Braun No touch + touch thermometer, you can also safely check the temperature of other family members without worrying about transferring germs from one to another.
Not only will taking your baby’s temperature help put your mind at ease, but it will also ensure your baby receives the help that he or she needs to return to their happy, healthy self. Always trust your instincts and during the winter season when flu is more common, don’t forget to look after yourself too!