How to Keep Your Newborn From Getting Sick This Christmas
The holidays with a newborn can be an overwhelming time to say the least. My son was born November 20, 2015, only one week before Thanksgiving. Already planned, was the family gatherings for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s with time allocated for both mine, and my husband’s side of the family. Anxiety struck as I thought of the gatherings with a newborn in tow. One of my primary stressors, at the time, was nursing. I struggled with latching problems with my son, which led to discomfort and insecurities in feeding. But in addition to the worries I had with nursing there is also an additional fear I had during this holiday season and bringing my newborn around a lot of different people: illness.
5 Ways to Keep Your Infant Healthy
Studies show that the mother provides antibodies and builds the immunity of their babies through breastmilk.
Eat a Nutrient Dense Diet
Assuming you are breastfeeding, your baby needs access to a variety of nutrients that you can get through a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables.
Wear Your Baby
Babywearing helps calm the baby, as well as reduces his exposure to germs.
Hand Wash Frequently
Reducing the introduction of germs to your baby can be helpful in preventing sickness.
Stress inhibits the immune function, reassuring your baby that everything is okay by taking time to cuddle and relax is an important part of staying healthy.
There are two types of moms
Okay, there are probably more than two types of mom, but when it comes to germs there are two extremes. There is the mom who doesn’t think twice about bringing their newborn any and everywhere and has more confidence in their baby’s immunity than in the threat of illness. Then, there is the mom who locks herself in the house with her baby, strictly regulates visitors, and is constantly cleaning in attempts to eliminate germs. If these extremes were on a scale, I am closer to the first type. I brought my newborn babies to college football games, family gatherings, stores, with little fear of illness. I also didn’t really worry about who visited or if they touched my baby. In fact, I the mom that shrugs at most things and says, “well, it will strengthen their immune system.” Obviously, there are pros and cons to each extreme and we often find ourselves somewhere in between. Fortunately, my efforts (or lack thereof) in keeping my son safe from illness proved us well. My son (now three) and daughter (now 16 months) are both extremely healthy and have only had mild illnesses like a cold.
Don’t Buy into the Fear
Let me encourage you mama, fear is the primary tactic of pharmacists and drug companies. Know your facts! I am reminded of a trip to the Health Department I took with my mom and my son when he was a few months old. Posted everywhere are “informative posters” warning of the dangers of diseases like measles, influenza, etc. Let me explain, these are NOT informative posters, they are advertisements for vaccines. In the same way, the health care system in America makes money off you being afraid of illness. Don’t buy into it. In fact, The United States and New Zealand are the only countries that allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise directly to the consumer. 1
In a document, directly from the Center for Disease Control, before the measles vaccine was created in 1963, it is estimated that there were 3 to 4 million cases of measles each year. 2 Holy cow, you may think! How did we not die out as a species? How many people died? That must have been horrific. I’m so glad you asked. Out of the 3 to 4 million cases of measles each year, about 450 resulted in death (this includes the elderly, and people with impaired immunity). What is your statistical chance of dying from measles according to this statistic? 0.01% Seem less scary now? Yes, your grandma probably had measles. But how else will drug companies get you to buy the measles vaccine (yes, buy, even if you are not personally paying for it, your insurance company is, and they are not cheap). If they told you that measles has a 99.99% survival rate… they wouldn’t sell very many vaccines. To put this in perspective, odds of dying in a motor vehicle crash are about 1 in 110, and odds of dying of heart disease are about 1 in 7.
Why am I telling you this?
Maybe we are fearing the wrong thing mama. No mom should have to live with unnecessary fear. In fact, I consider it plain mean that as mom’s we are hardly ever empowered by health care providers with more confidence on how to live a healthy life. Is that not supposed to be their primary concern? Our health and the health of our family? Perhaps, this is why I personally worry much more about eating to prevent heart disease than about measles. Ironically, eating to prevent heart disease naturally includes a nutrient rich diet that would also build your immunity and protect you from acute illness like measles.
But Let’s Talk Common Sense & Practicality of the Season
I say all of this to put your mind at ease, but not to encourage you to neglect the use of common sense and take good steps in protecting your newborn against illness during the holidays.
Antibodies, Colostrum, & Breastfeeding
The absolute BEST advice I can give you is to breastfeed your baby. If you cannot breastfeed, I urge you to find a breastmilk provider. Yes, that’s a real thing. There are people who donate and sell breastmilk for every stage of development. Most local midwifes are a good place to start when inquiring where to find breastmilk. Human Milk 4 Human Babies, https://milkbankofflorida.org , and http://www.eatsonfeets.org are all great resources. Studies show that the mother provides antibodies and builds the immunity of their babies through breastmilk. Knowing this, it is clearly ideal if you can breastfeed your baby yourself, since you will be in contact to much of the same germs. However, these antibodies will be found in all breastmilk, something they simply can’t recreate in formula. For the science buff (where my peeps at):
Immunoglobulins are transported through the mammary epithelial cells by receptor-mediated mechanisms and transferred out of the mammary gland by milk ejection during suckling. The immunoglobulins then enter the environment of the gastrointestinal tract of the neonate. Although that environment is primarily geared toward digestion to gain nutritional benefit, the immunoglobulins remain sufficiently stable to provide protective benefits for the neonate, either through uptake into the vascular system in the newborn of some species or through immunological function in the gastrointestinal tract. 3
Piggy backing off the advice to breastfeed is this truth, the stronger your own immunity, the stronger developed the antibodies you pass on to your little one are. By taking a good prenatal vitamin, and eating a nutrient (plant) rich diet, you support your body with the nutrition it needs for a healthy immune system. As a holistic health buff, I am a strong believer that the germ is far less important than the terrain it inhabits. If your terrain (body) is diseased or not provided with the optimal nutrition, it will be much less effective in eliminating illness.
Nevertheless, some illnesses (germs if you will) are much more aggressive than other, meaning that minimizing exposure to illness during the newborn time is still wise. Thus, here are a few tips for minimizing your littles exposure to germs:
- 1Baby Wearing: This is a great way to keep Aunt Sally’s hands off your little one.
2Natural Cleaning Wipes: This is a great time to keep some antibacterial wipes in your diaper bag and wipe down everything (especially if you think your babies mouth or hands will touch it).
Here is a great recipe: http://naturesnurtureblog.com/homemade-cleaning-wipes/
- 3Natural Hand Sanitizer: Another great thing to keep in the diaper bag, you can offer this to anyone who wants to hold your baby.
DIY Holiday Hand Sanitizer Ingredients
Small (2oz) Glass Pump Bottle
3 tbsp Aloe vera gel
½ tsp witch hazel
2 drops Tea Tree essential oil
2 drops Wintergreen essential oil
2 drops Peppermint essential oil
Mix together the essential oils, and witch hazel, and aloe vera gel. Add to the pump bottle!
The mind/body connection has come under study more as of late. Studies are showing how much stress can weaken our immunity.4 The Holidays really are a magical time, and so are newborn snuggles. Enjoy your family, show off your baby, because heck, YOU MADE A HUMAN - Go you! Take advantage of your relatives wanting to see your little one and get some rest, because if your babies are anything like mine, it will be a while until your sleep a whole night through again. Eat good food, have a good laugh, and make memories. Be encouraged mama, you are doing great.
Tatiana Schmidt - Holistic Nutritionist
Tatiana Schmidt is a certified Holistic Nutritionist and mama to AJ, a 3 year old boy and Baylin, a 1 year old girl. She has a passion for health, nutrition, and delicious food. You can find her work in the Sprigs Magazine, on the Sprigs Blog, and at tatianaschmidt.com.