A new strain of coronavirus is taking its toll on families across the world. Knowing the overwhelming effects on this virus, many parents can’t help but be worried about their babies’ health. So how can you protect your baby from coronavirus?
Let’s learn a bit more about this disease-causing microorganism to find ways on protecting your whole family from its dreaded effects.
Can coronavirus make my baby sick?
A family of viruses that produce flu-like symptoms, human coronavirus is something that most of us have encountered in the past. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), coronavirus usually infects the respiratory tract and many of its kind only cause mild illnesses, like common colds.
However, coronaviruses have also caused severe implications like the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Sydrome (SARS). Recently, a new strain of this virus emerged. While the exact cause of this novel coronavirus is unknown, scientists suggest that it may have originated from wild animals like bats. Eventually, this virus made its way to infect humans, giving rise to a severe acute respiratory illness which experts termed as COVID19.
Though this new coronavirus is similar to other viruses that infected us in the past, many of its characteristics are not yet known. Most recent data suggest that in China, where the virus originated, it made more than 2000 children sick. A study found that nearly half of these children showed moderate cold-like symptoms like cough, fatigue, congestion, fever, and diarrhea. However, the disease caused fatal effects on 125 children, including a 14-year old boy who died.
This data suggests that even if severe cases are mostly among the elderly and adults with major medical conditions, young children aren’t completely spared from the virus.
Viral infections find hosts that are vulnerable and these include babies, especially the premature and newly born infants whose immune systems are still developing. Thus, it’s safer for parents to take the necessary measures in preventing this virus from infecting their babies and their whole family.
How can I protect my baby from coronavirus?
Viral infections spread quickly and in this new coronavirus disease, it easily inflicted many countries and became a pandemic. It’s of no wonder why parents seek extra measures to keep their babies protected.
To help make things clearer, let’s first get an overview of how a virus lives, spreads and multiplies so that we can take the necessary measures to protect our baby and the rest of our family.
In healthcare discussions, the way that viruses and other pathogens spread and multiply is called the “chain of infection”. This chain is a continuous cycle that viruses do to inflict as many people as possible.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three major components of this cycle:
1. The reservoir
This is where the virus normally lives or grows. In the case of the coronavirus, it was suspected that wild animals like bats might be their reservoir. However, at present, the virus seems to have made its way to survive and multiply inside human bodies, making every people a potential reservoir as well.
The virus can leave the reservoir through a “portal of exit.” Since coronavirus produce respiratory symptoms, the major portal of exit seems to be the respiratory tract through the respiratory secretions like saliva, sputum or phlegm, and mucus.
2. Modes of transmission
Once the virus made its way out through the body secretions, it will need a method to transfer to another person or host.
In this new coronavirus, experts identified that the potential modes of transmission are:
- Direct contact– This refers to directly touching an infected person like handshaking, hugging or kissing.
- Droplet spread- This is when tiny droplets spray through the air as the infected person speaks, coughs or sneezes.
- Fomites– These include objects or surfaces that the infected person has touched like handkerchiefs, doorknobs or stairway railings. The virus can potentially live for several hours to days on these surfaces and make its way to transfer to another person who will touch the contaminated object.
- Airborne– A recent study showed that the new coronavirus can survive as aerosols in the air for a few hours in some settings, like in hospitals. More research is yet to be done to verify this mode of transmission in community settings.
3. A susceptible host
These are the people who are more vulnerable to catch the infection. The CDC suggests that young children may not be the most at risk of the severe effects of the virus. However, the newly born and premature infants may possibly be at risk because their immune defenses are still low. This means that their body doesn’t have enough strength to combat severe infections like that of COVID-19.
So if you want to keep your baby safe from coronavirus, you’ll need to break this infection chain or cycle.
Steps To Take
Here are some tips to protect your baby from being a vulnerable host for this viral infection:
Breastfeed your baby if possible
One simple and inexpensive way to provide extra protection is by breastfeeding. A mother’s milk is full of antibodies that can help boost the immunity of your infant. Breast milk also offers complete nutrition to keep your baby healthy and less susceptible to illnesses.
Prepare healthier meals
If your baby is aged 6 months and older, you can add up his protection by preparing meals that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Though pre-packed cereals are good for occasional use, cooking your own baby foods to include vegetables and fruits can better support your baby’s needs. You can also add up fresh citrus fruits or juices to provide more vitamin C which is essential for your baby’s immunity.
Offer your baby enough time to rest
Sleep is very important for babies. They need it to grow and develop their immune defenses. Provide a quiet environment where your baby can rest and get enough sleep.
Update your baby’s vaccinations
Though there is no vaccine for COVID-19 at present, your baby can be more susceptible if he has other medical conditions. You can protect your baby from catching most childhood illnesses by keeping his immunizations updated.
Call your pediatrician if your baby is not feeling well
Due to the increasing number of people infected by the virus, you’ll need to seek advice from your pediatrician via phone before visiting the clinic. This way, your doctor can identify the symptoms beforehand and be prepared. It is also a way to protect your baby from unnecessarily going outdoors where he might be exposed to other people with the virus.
Additionally, you’ll need to break the modes of transmission to prevent the coronavirus spread. You can do through the following:
Regularly clean and disinfect your home
Home is your baby’s immediate environment so keeping it clean and sanitized is essential in the prevention of viral infections. You can use your regular household cleaning agents and sanitizers and pay particular attention to highly-touched surfaces like your countertops, tables, doorknobs, floor, switches, remote control, and electronic devices.
Clean your baby’s toys and frequently touched items thoroughly
These include stuffed animals, beddings, pacifiers, baby bottles, and utensils.
Avoid bringing your baby into crowded places
The chances of getting coronavirus heightens when you and your baby mingle with a lot of people. It’s best to leave your baby home with a caregiver when you need to buy food and supplies from groceries, malls, and markets. Playdates and sleepovers are also discouraged during this time.
Oblige to social distancing advice
Due to the pandemic, health care officials advise the public to practice social distancing. This means that you need to stay home whenever possible and if you need to go outdoors, stay at least 1 meter away from another person. By following the guidelines on social distancing, you’ll also prevent getting the virus outdoors and spreading it to your family.
Keep your hands clean
Your hands may harbor several pathogens that are invisible to the eyes. Teach your family about proper hand washing with soap and water.
It is advised to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. For older babies, you can teach or wash your baby’s hands frequently. Teach the proper hand washing technique to your other family members as well. You can add up fun in ensuring that they wash their hands in the recommended period of time by singing the “happy birthday” song twice or the English alphabet song.
Wash your hands before handling food, your baby or your baby’s items, and after going to the bathroom and touching dirty surfaces.
If soap and water is not yet available, you can sanitize your hands using alcohol or sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol solution.
Avoid sharing utensils, glasses or food with your baby
The coronavirus takes around 14 days within the body before it produces any symptom. Others might also be silent carriers of the virus or those who experience no symptoms at all.
Since this virus can be spread through saliva, it’s best to prevent sharing utensils with your baby. If you’re also fond of tasting your baby’s food, its best to prevent doing it to prevent spreading any disease-causing microorganism.
If you have cold-like symptoms, prevent close contact with your baby.
The healthcare officials advise that anyone with cold-like symptoms must isolate themselves at home for 14 days. Seek advice from your doctor about what to do and how to provide extra protection for your baby.
With the threat of coronavirus all over the world, the reduction of our risk in getting infected starts from home. Keep your family healthy and your home sanitary. Finally, follow the precautionary measures that are advised by our health officials to help protect your loved ones from the debilitating effects of this viral infection.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or licensed medical professional before making any medical decisions.