The holiday season is when we get together with friends and family (yes, that includes your unfiltered mother-in-law) to eat food, give gifts, and spend a little quality time. But with ALL that together time indoors (including Aunt Karen’s unsolicited parenting advice at the dinner table), there’s also an increased risk of your kiddos contracting something icky. If this is your peanut’s first holiday season visiting family, be prepared for a shower of hugs, kisses, and cuddles from loved ones. Still, there’s no reason to worry that your tot will come down with a cold at every touch. There are steps you can take to keep your little germ-magnet as healthy as can be this holiday season. Here are the top five.
1. Know your limits.
Your family will want to shower your baby with love and affection, but with those hugs, kisses, and cheek pinches comes whatever germs they’re carrying. Babies don’t have the same immune systems as adults do, but it’s your job as a parent to set boundaries and prepare both your LO and your family for what you’re comfortable with. Make sure anyone who wants to hold the baby (everyone, duh) washes their hands first. You can even ask them to mask up while they’re close to your pint-sized human. If you’d rather be extra safe, make your stance clear right from the get-go with a No Germs on Board Sign in your baby’s car seat or stroller.
2. Prepare for the unexpected.
When you’re out and about, there’s no telling who you’ll run into or what might happen – it’s always best to be prepared. Keep a Social Safety Pack in your purse so you always have extra masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer with you. Because, let’s be real, kids are adorable little accident makers with snotty noses, and it’s better to be over-prepared than scrambling through the bottom of the diaper bag for an unwashed face mask while you’re walking into the grocery store.
3. Know who's around you (and who they've been around).
We all know the basic rules of cold and flu season. Wash your hands, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, wear your mask. And: STAY HOME if you’re under the weather. Be upfront with friends and family that your LO’s health is your priority – tell them to stay home if someone they’ve been around ends up with a bug. They can always spoil their new niece or nephew next time when everyone is healthy.
4. Stay up-to-sate on vaccinations.
Sick season is in full swing when the holidays arrive, so it’s important to do what you can to prevent your family from catching anything serious. If you haven’t received a flu shot yet this year, make sure to get it at least two weeks before traveling or hosting visitors. Encourage everyone you’ll be spending the holidays with to get their shots as well.
5. Stick to your sleep schedule.
Getting the right amount of sleep is one of the most important ways to keep your littles healthy. When traveling or just getting swept up in the holiday excitement it can be easy for a proper sleep schedule to fall to the wayside. Make sure your littles get their regular naps and go to sleep and wake up at normal(-ish) times – even when they (read: YOU) are waiting for Santa.
6. Make your life easier by buying infant health products.
Nothing is worse than landing in sunny San Francisco to visit your parents for the New Year when you hear it: a cough. Coming from the throat of your reason-for-being. A Sick Day Survival Kit has everything you need when your baby inevitably gets sick. Whether you’re giving medicine, taking a temp or setting boogies free – it’s all right here. If relatives are visiting you for the holidays, a cool mist humidifier in baby’s nursery can help protect them from certain kinds of viruses and bacteria. But more on why you need a humidifier later.
Whether you’re staying home for the holidays or getting on the next flight to your hometown to stay with your parents, try not to worry too much about your infant’s health. After all, babies get sick. The best thing you can do is to be prepared, know your limits, and if all else fails, skip the family dinner this year and opt for one-on-one interactions instead.