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Your infant's health is top of mind with flu season and winter colds in full swing. You may be concerned about exposing your baby to sick loved ones.

Babies' immune systems are notoriously delicate. Though babies may acquire passive immunity to some minor conditions through the placenta from their mothers -- that immunity only lasts for a short time. Until babies complete their vaccinations, they are susceptible to more than a dozen serious childhood diseases that can be passed from person to person.

As the parent, you get to decide where to take your baby and who gets to hold her. If you're not comfortable letting someone hold your child, remember that it's OK to say no.

To help keep your baby well, try these tips:

• Keep baby close. Properly using a baby sling, carrier or wrap that is appropriate for newborns allows you to keep the baby close to your body at all times, limiting exposure to others. People can usually peek at the baby, but they aren't able to easily pick the baby up and potentially expose it to germs.

• Encourage hand washing. It's OK for mom or dad to ask others to wash their hands with soap and water before touching the baby. Even if the person holding the baby isn't sick, she could have touched a surface contaminated with cold or flu germs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the flu virus can live on some surfaces for 24 hours.

• Ask about vaccinations. Before 6 months, babies are too young to be fully immunized against potentially deadly conditions such as pertussis (whooping cough) and the flu. The Immunization Action Coalition says that cocooning -- ensuring that everyone who regularly comes into contact with your baby is fully immunized -- is an "easy and effective way that people can work together to prevent the spread of whooping cough and flu to babies." The CDC recommends that people who come into regular contact with the baby be up-to-date on their Tdap and flu vaccinations.

• Be aware. If someone has obvious signs of illness -- fever, lightheadedness, diarrhea, nausea and unexplained fatigue -- don't let him hold your baby.

The holding handbook

Holding a newborn may seem easy enough. After all, they weigh -- on average -- between 5.2 and 9.5 pounds at birth. However, their delicate bodies make it very important to follow proper techniques. Remember the following tips:

• Support the baby's head at all times.

• Pick up the baby from a flat surface by placing one hand under his neck and head and the other under his bottom.

• Hold the baby with both arms and hands when going up or downstairs.

• Avoid grabbing a hot beverage or sharp object while holding the baby in the other arm.

• Help others use the proper techniques if they want to hold the baby.

At Siloam Springs Regional Hospital Women and Children's Unit, we recognize that having a baby is a momentous time in your life. Our goal is to provide safe, quality health care for newborns and their mothers. We offer labor and delivery services that balance technology with a family-oriented environment. For more information on our services and classes or to schedule a tour, contact our nurse navigator at 479-215-3305 or visit NorthwestHealthBabies.com today.

About Siloam Springs Regional Hospital

Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is a 73 licensed-bed facility with 42 private patient rooms. It is accredited by the State of Arkansas Department of Health Services and The Joint Commission. Some services include inpatient and outpatient surgery, emergency medicine, medical, surgical and intensive care units, obstetrics, outpatient diagnostic services and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation. With more than 50 physicians on the medical staff, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital provides compassionate, customer-focused care. SSRH is an affiliate of Northwest Health, one of the largest health networks in Northwest Arkansas. Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is located at 603 N. Progress Ave. in Siloam Springs. For more information, visit NorthwestHealth.com.

Community on 02/05/2020

Print Headline: Protect your infant from illness

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