Winter is one of those seasons when most parents worry about the health of their babies. Of course, along with dropping temperatures there is also the danger of viruses making their rounds. During winters, your baby’s immunity gives in and tends to become weak. This happens due to an increase in infections that are viral and bacterial in nature. Since most of these winter viruses are airborne, there is not much you can do to protect your baby from this inevitable cold. Some of the common viruses that cause such problems are Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV, Rhinovirus, Influenza virus, Flu, Bronchiolitis etc. It is important to know about the symptoms of such infections to avail help when needed at the earliest. Common cold is the most prevailing of the winter viruses, presenting symptoms of a runny nose, fever and cough. Bronchial infections like RSV, cause inflammation of the inner lungs, Coughing, wheezing and difficulty in sleeping,Trouble breathing, gasping for breath and short breaths and Coughing to the point of vomiting.
These infections can be caused by direct contact with a sick person, or by indirect exposure to a contaminated surface.
So, here are some tips to take care of your baby and prevent these health problems this winter.
1. Layer Up
It’s important to keep your baby warm, but not too warm. Heat and moisture (sweat) aggravates soft skin. Too many layers may lead to a case of prickly heat rash. Dress baby in one more layer of clothing than you’re wearing. When in doubt, just put a hand under her clothing to test her body heat and make sure she’s not sweaty.
2. Washing hands
Many of us use water very sparingly for our kids during winter since it is cold and untouchable. Try washing your little ones hands in warm water or hand santiser before they eat as it is the main route of infection for the communicable diseases like cold, flu, pneumonia. And if you are feeding your infant or small babies washing your hand properly each time is a must.
3. Wash your Winter Wear Regularly
We seldom wash our sweater, jackets as it takes a long time to dry. We think that in winter there is less sweating so it will not become soiled soon. But woolens have the tendency to attract dust and it may lead to dust allergy and asthma. Wash your wollens regularly.
4. Aerate the room
I can hear you thinking ,”Aerating the room in the winter!! Are you kidding? ” Do you know that a closed warm room may attract more microbes than a room that has air flow in it? We are not asking you to open all the windows and doors. just leave the windows and doors open for a few minutes when the sun is shining bright so that clean air can flow through the room, also UV rays of the sunlight are a natural disinfectant.
Also air tends to get dry, with less than 5 percent humidity, when you heat your home using heaters or AC. This dryness leaches out the moisture from your skin. Keeping the humidity level between 25 percent to 40 percent is ideal. If your child is prone to eczema flare-ups, clogged nasal passage with difficulty in breathing and eating, using a cold mist humidifier in your child’s room can be very beneficial.
5. Clean the nose regularly
The mucus may harden to thick crusts inside the nose more during winter. So it is necessary to clean the nose regularly. Wet a cotton swab in warm water and gently wipe the area. In case of stuffy, clogged nose use padeatric nasal saline to wash out the nasal passage.
6. Bathing and moisturizing
Every parents hesitate to bathe their baby frequently in winter. But it is advisable to bathe them atleast once a week. While bathing, your baby might be extremely susceptible to this weather change. Ensure you maintain a balance between the bathroom and the bedroom temperature. It would be advisable to make sure there are no gusts of wind or cold air while you bathe your child.
Moisturizing is the key for maintaining perfect skin health of children in winter. If not adequately moisturized (atleast twice a day) it may lead to dry skin and eczema. After bath, dry the body properly and apply the moisturizer cream or oil evenly throughout the skin and massage lightly.
7. Maintain adequate hydration
Hydrate your child with adequate water intake. Warm water seasoned with jeera is a good choice for winter months. If your child doesn’t drink water, substitute water with warm soups and beverages. If you are breastfeeding then increase the number of feeds per day.
8. Get the sunlight
If it is sunny then take your kids outside in the sun. Sun is the best source for Vit D and in winter season due to decreased exposure to sun, some children even develop Vit D Deficiency. Don’t forget the sunscreen!!
9. Avoid Crowds
In winter it is better to avoid crowded places , as there might be increased chance of infection due to suspended aerosols in the air.
10. No! Self Medication Please
Many moms enquire, “The paediatrician gave this medicine last time during fever, Can I use the same now?” Well, this is is ok for the paracetamol and medicines to clear the nasal congestion.
It is not ok to give antibiotics prescribed earlier, because the infecting agent may be different and your child may require a different antibiotic. So please consult a doctor before starting your child on any medication.