For young parents, few things are more distressing than having a sick toddler. However, one of them is having a sick toddler at the same time as you have a newborn. Managing to care for both children, while minimizing the risk to your infant, is a tall order. However, it's not impossible if you approach the task in an organized and intelligent manner.
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The first step in protecting your infant is protection. The illnesses you prevent are the ones that will cause you the least stress and lost sleep. Immunizing your children at the appropriate times is fundamental. Even if your newborn is too young to be vaccinated, ensuring that your toddler is protected will reduce the number of illnesses coming into your home. Try to minimize your kids' exposure to other children who may be ill. If your toddler attends a day care, make sure the facility enforces a no-sick-children policy and maintains a high standard of hygiene for the children and staff.
Work with your toddler to contain the spread of germs and viruses through contact. Teach him to use a tissue for his runny nose and eyes instead of wiping them with a bare hand. Use small treats, such as raisins or other healthy snacks, as positive reinforcement. Wash your toddler's hands and face frequently, as well as clothing, toys and bedding that might have become contaminated. Insist that your toddler wash up before touching the baby, and teach her not to breathe or sneeze on the infant's face. A sick toddler needs lots of attention, so lean on family and friends for backup whenever possible.
Despite your best efforts, both you and your toddler are likely to spread germs throughout the house during the day. Take a moment, two or three times each day, to go through the house with disinfectant wipes. Use the wipes to clean high-traffic surfaces such as doorknobs, the refrigerator handle, drawer pulls, the microwave and telephone touch pads, television remote controls, handrails and even the outside of your box of diaper wipes. This can help reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria throughout your home.
Your baby's immune system isn't fully developed in infancy, so everything you can do to help is important. Your child will be born with some of your antibodies, but these will dwindle over time. If you can breastfeed for even a few days, this will help provide your child with a stronger immune system and help ward off infections. Wash your baby's hands and face regularly, as well as anything else from feet to toys, that might get chewed on. Keeping your infant nourished and hydrated are also important. Robust general health makes it easier for babies to resist infections.