All babies, no matter when they are born, have immature immune systems. Because of this, we know we need to do everything we can to protect them from getting sick. “Viral season” in Wisconsin starts in early November and usually lasts through April. This is the time of year when there are more germs and viruses spreading, and we all are more likely to get sick.
When babies get sick, their bodies are not able to fight these bugs like you and I can. Babies born prematurely are especially at risk during this time of year.
As a caretaker, there are many things that can help protect a baby during this time of year. The number one way we can protect our babies (and ourselves) is by washing our hands frequently. If you have other little ones at home, it is very important to teach them to wash their hands as well. Alcohol based hand sanitizers can be used in-between hand washing or when soap and water is not available.
Another way to protect your baby is by keeping them away from young children as well as crowds in public places, daycares and family gatherings. The fewer bugs they come in contact with, the less likely they will get sick. Finally, if someone you know has a cold or fever, do not have them care for or be around your baby.
But no matter how hard we try, sometimes our babies get sick. Work with your pediatrician if your baby develops a fever, a cough, is not eating well, is having difficulty breathing or is less active. These are all signs that your baby may be sick.
Wishing you a happy and healthy winter!
Laura Nelson, RN, MS
Newborn Intensive Care Unit
Clinical Nurse Specialist