Each year, between 10 and 20 percent of Americans catch a strain of the influenza virus, or flu. Young children are at greater risk of developing complications than adults. Symptoms of the virus include fever, sore throat, runny nose, headache and cough. To keep your baby healthy throughout the year and especially during flu season, take a few proactive preventative steps to reduce potential exposure to the virus.
Take your baby in for an influenza vaccination each year if he is older than six months of age. Each year the vaccine covers the three flu strains that researchers predict will be the most common during the upcoming flu season.
Get yourself vaccinated for the flu, as well as any other members of your household who come in frequent contact with your baby, especially if she is under 6 months old and too young to get vaccinated.
Wash your hands each time you enter your home and before you eat. Encourage your family to do the same. Frequent hand washing can help keep you flu-free so you won’t pass along the germs to your baby.
Avoid visiting crowded places with your baby during peak flu season, usually from October to March or April. Child care centers, schools and public transportation draw crowds and a greater concentration of germs.
Continue to breastfeed, even if you catch the flu. Your breast milk provides immunity-boosting antibodies to your baby. If you are sick, wash your hands frequently and cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.