There are plenty of adults who don’t want to be out in public any more than they have to during flu season. Influenza viruses are highly contagious, and the more contact you have with others during flu epidemics, the more likely you are to get the flu. It’s not great for adults to get sick with the flu, but babies are even less equipped to fight off infections than adults.
You, of course, don’t want your baby to get sick with the flu. You also don’t want to keep your baby cooped up at home the entirety of flu season, either. Here’s some information to consider when taking your baby out during flu season.
Babies are at a higher risk for flu-related complications
Children younger than 2 are at an especially high risk of flu-related complications. Thousands of children visit the hospital due to flu every year. Children younger than 6 months are at the highest risk among children for hospitalization because of the flu.
Since children younger than 6 months are at the highest risk – and children cannot receive flu vaccinations until after 6 months of age – it’s very important to protect them from the flu.
Taking your baby out during flu season
It’s not realistic to think you can prevent your baby from ever getting sick, but you should still take measures to keep your baby healthy, especially during flu season.
If a person is sick, they’re usually mindful of keeping their distance from a baby, but it’s possible for a perfectly healthy person to spread influenza virus, too. It’s OK to ask people not to hold your baby.
Limit time spent with large crowds of people, or at places that see lots of traffic.
Cover your baby’s stroller or carrier with a light blanket. This can help reduce your baby’s exposure to germs, and make it less inviting for people to touch or hold your baby.
Ways to keep your baby healthy during flu season
Wash your hands often. Washing your hands is an easy and effective way to help prevent the spread of germs.
Flu viruses can live on surfaces for 24 hours. Disinfect toys and surfaces.
Everyone in your family should get a flu shot. Even older babies can get vaccinated against the flu. The CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone including babies older than 6 months.