If you have a newborn in the house when the rest of the family comes down with a cold, flu or a stomach bug, you’re in for some extra work. Newborns are particularly vulnerable to certain illnesses because their immune systems are still immature and not strong enough to fight off bacteria and viruses, notes the Lakes Region General Hospital website. Because many illnesses are most contagious before symptoms show, it's not always possible to keep your baby germ-free. That's why practicing good hygiene is essential every day when you have a newborn at home.
Designate one specific caregiver for your baby while the members of your household are sick. If you are the only one who is well, then you should be the only one caring for your newborn. This makes it easier to control your newborn's environment and her exposure to the illness. Keep in mind that you should wait until ill family members are well for several days before letting them come in contact with the infant.
Wash your hands before handing your newborn and make sure everyone in the family, including other children, do the same. Also, wash your hands with soap and warm water before preparing bottles, cleaning your baby, blowing her nose or changing her diaper. Don't forget to wash your little one's hands, too.
Isolate sick family members as much as possible. Sick children and adults in your home who are coughing or sneezing put your newborn baby at risk for airborne infection. Insist that any contagious family members stay out of the kitchen and your newborn's room until the illness passes.
Disinfect potentially contaminated surfaces frequently to prevent passing the virus or bacteria along to well family members and to your newborn. Use a spray disinfectant on frequently touched objects, such as phones, doorknobs, remote controls, toilets and sink faucets.
Boil your baby's nipples, pacifiers and toys, or wash them in hot soapy water, per the manufacturer's directions. You might want to do this daily during times when family members are sick.
Continue breastfeeding your baby, even if you are sick. Wash your hands and breast and wear a mask if necessary, but breastfeed as normal throughout the course of your illness. As noted by the WomensHealth.gov website, you cannot pass most common illnesses, such as colds and the flu, to a child through breast milk. In fact, breast milk provides your infant with antibodies and enzymes that offer protection from viruses and bacteria. These antibodies will help protect your newborn from contracting your cold or flu. If you're concerned about the possibility of your infant catching an illness through your breast milk, discuss this with your pediatrician.