If you have kids, you’ve probably had to take care of them while they were sick. The flu, one of the most common diseases in babies, children, and adults, usually affects us the most during wintertime.

Usually, babies get the flu up to 7 times during their first year of life. Even though this illness goes away after a couple of days, it’s important to take precautions in order to prevent it or control it, so that it doesn’t evolve into something else.

The common symptoms of the flu are cough, headaches, body pain, runny nose, and sore throat. Usually, these symptoms last from 7 to 10 days, but that varies from one person to another. However, even if it’s a common disease, you need to know when to take your baby to the doctor.

If your baby is less than 3 months old, you always need to take them to the pediatrician, even if they have common symptoms. Since their immune system is still developing and it’s fragile, it’s not strong enough to fight the disease and it may worsen. Your doctor will tell you how to treat the symptoms and will check if there are any other infections.

If your little one is older than 3 months old, go see a doctor if they have trouble breathing, their ears ache, or if their symptoms last for more than 10 days. It’s also important to check if they use more diapers than usual or if their body temperature rises. If it is 38 °C (100 °F) or more, they are cranky, the white of their eyes looks yellow, green or red, or if they present any other alarming symptom, take them to the doctor as soon as possible.

There are also recommendations to prevent getting the flu. Following these simple measures may prevent your baby from getting sick and can keep them healthy during this season. Some of the advice is:

  1. Wash your baby’s hands frequently: The flu virus can travel in our hands, so if you wash them you reduce the chances of infection. You should wash the hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap. Also, you should wash your hands when you interact with your baby.
  2. Avoid contact with sick people: Keep your little one away from people that have flu symptoms, because it spreads easily.
  3. Clean what’s around your baby: Try to clean frequently the things and surfaces your baby uses, such as toys, tables, or any object that they touch.
  4. Keep your baby warm: During the cold seasons, make sure to dress your child in enough clothes to keep them warm and comfortable in the cold.
  5. Teach them how to sneeze and cough: This advice is for older children. Explain to your child that, when they need to sneeze or cough, they should use a paper tissue or cover their mouth and nose with the inner part of their elbow. They shouldn’t cover their face with their hands, because if they touch other objects or people, the virus will spread.

It’s important to follow these recommendations to reduce the possibility of infection. However, remember that the flu is very contagious and that your little one will probably get sick. If this happens, make sure to be by their side and take care of them to reduce their discomfort. Remember that if you have any doubts or a symptom worries you, you should call your doctor so they can check your baby and give them adequate treatment.

References:

Common cold
Common cold in babies
Germ prevention strategies
When to call the pediatrician