Last updated: February 19. 2013 7:14PM - 162 Views

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During cold and flu season, it's tough enough to keep yourself healthy, let alone your brand-new baby (with a brand-new immune system). Use these strategies:

Watch where you take her : We know you want to show off your new baby, but during the first two months, try not to take her anywhere where there will be crowds of people.

Be a nag about hand washing: It may seem paranoid or nitpicky, but it really is important that you ask anyone who's going to hold your newborn to wash his hands first. That will help prevent the spread of cold, flu and other viruses to your little one. If you know family members are sick, ask them to wait until they're better before they visit with the baby.

Don't stop breastfeeding: On the other hand, if you're nursing and you've got a cold or the flu, you shouldn't stay away from baby at all. In fact, you should keep on breastfeeding her, since you'll be giving her antibodies to whatever you've got through your breast milk.

Vaccinate: (we're talking about you) Babies aren't eligible for the flu shot until they're at least 6 months old. And the whooping cough (aka pertussis) vaccine? Well, it takes a series of shots before baby is fully immunized. You can help protect your child, by making sure you get a flu shot and a booster for the pertussis vaccine.

Teach your older child what to do: If you've got an older child in day care or school and you're worried about him bringing germs home, you obviously don't want to do anything extreme, like send him off to a relative's house for two months or freak out every time he wants to touch the baby. Teach him proper infant etiquette: Always wash hands before holding the baby. Cover sneezes and coughs. Blow your nose into a tissue and throw it in the trash can. And be sure not to schedule any playdates at your home until baby's out of the newborn phase.

Play by the rules: Most day cares have specific rules regarding bringing sick kids in — babies may not be allowed back there until they've been fever-free for at least 24 hours. Rules like this are in place for a reason — so illnesses don't spread as easily.

— MCT Information Services

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