As a pediatrician and mom of two young boys, I know all too well how stressful it can be when your child walks in the door with the first signs of a cold or flu. Turns out, I’m not alone. According to a recent survey, 70% of moms worry about their child’s health during cold and flu season more than any other time of year.1 I see this first-hand with phones ringing off the hook at my office during these winter months! So, here are my top 5 tips every mom should know about the cold and flu season:
- Keep Germs Away: Washing your child’s hands is a tried and true way to help keep the germs at bay. It's best to wash both yours and your little one's hands when entering the house, before eating and after using the bathroom. Make sure they wash for more than 20 seconds (it helps to sing a song that takes 20 seconds to sing to make it fun and pass the time!)
- Vaccinate: Vaccination is the best way to protect your family from the flu – and contrary to what many think, will not give you the flu. I recommend to my patients to vaccinate everyone in the house who is six months and older. If your baby is younger than six months, you will protect your child by vaccinating everyone else around them (think grandparents, siblings and other caregivers). Consult your pediatrician to learn more about vaccination.
- Address Stuffy Noses: Stuffy noses can be relieved with a drop or two of nasal saline in each nostril. If the stuffiness is keeping your little one from sleeping or eating, try gentle suctioning too. This will help remove mucus from your child’s nose. You can also run a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer at night to alleviate the congestion.
- Alleviate Fevers: Young children have fevers quite often – most of which can be relieved at home. To ease your child's discomfort, I’d recommend having an effective fever-reducer, like Infants’ or Children’s TYLENOL®, on hand. However, always speak to your doctor before giving medication. Here a few good “benchmarks” for understanding fevers and when to definitely call the doctor:
- Babies Less Than 3 Months Old: If a newborn has a temperature of 100.4° or higher. Newborns can become very sick very quickly and need to be evaluated.
- Babies Between 3 and 6 Months Old: If your infant has a temperature above 102°, or appears very sick, is lethargic, won't drink fluids, or has any fever that lasts more than 3 days.
- Any Age: If your little one refuses or is unable to drink fluids, experiences a seizure, a rash, a stiff neck, confusion, trouble breathing, continuous crying, persistent vomiting or diarrhea, is difficult to wake up, or just appears to be abnormally sick.
- Take Care of Yourself Too: I see moms taking care of everyone in the house and sometimes forgetting to take care of themselves! If you start to come down with a cold or fever, make sure you rest, drink plenty of fluids and wash your hands to avoid sharing your germs with the rest of your family.
1. Online survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the makers of TYLENOL® between May 22 and June 3, 2013 among 300 U.S. moms, age 18+, with children who are 0-3 years old, can smile at things they find amusing, and have recovered from an illness such as a cold or the flu.
2. Between September 17, 2013 and January 31, 2014, McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc., the makers of TYLENOL®, is inviting anyone 18 and older to share a photo that makes them smile on SmilingItForward.com. Each photo approved & shared will trigger a $1.00 donation from TYLENOL® to Children's Health Fund, with a minimum donation of $75,000 and a maximum donation of $100,000. Review Terms and Conditions for complete program details. For information about Children's Health Fund, visit www.childrenshealthfund.org.