As we enter into the Holiday season, it is important to remember a few things to keep your children healthy.
Unfortunately our favorite times of year to gather together with family members fall right in the middle of the peaks of cold and flu season. This year especially, Type A Influenza is circulating widely in our area. Along with that are many common cold viruses and RSV, a virus which causes wheezing in infants and young children. Most of these viruses are airborne illnesses. With that in mind, there are a few things you can do to increase your child’s chances of staying healthy.
1) Don’t take your baby under 2months old to large family gatherings. Aunt Betty might be fine today but have flu tomorrow and could expose your infant without knowing she is a carrier. Unfortunately, many common, relatively mild illnesses for adults could be devastating for a young infant.
2) Get a flu vaccine and immunize your child over 6months of age.
3) If you are not feeling well, STAY HOME!! Epidemics are typically caused by well meaning individuals who feel they must go to work or must go to a social function.
Most parents are very careful about child proofing the house, but around the holidays, chances are your curious little “George” will have the opportunity to explore many houses other than their own.
1) While you can’t be certain that all of your relatives will have safety plugs, you can ask them to make sure they don’t leave medications within reach. Many adults who don’t have young children will put medicine into daily pill dispensers so they will remember to take it. Unfortunately these are not child proof and look like a fun toy with which to play.
2) Household cleaners pose another common risk. While you may have locks on your cabinets or have them put up high, many homes do not have this safety feature unless there are other young children there. Just make sure your child is not given too much free roaming room.
3) Choking is a common cause of injury in young children. While most of us would not give a toy to a baby that is a choking hazard, we will thoughtlessly hang small ornaments well within a baby’s reach. Try to place smaller ornaments high on the tree and put up a barrier around the tree to keep baby away.
4) Burns-most parents think to put a barrier around fireplaces, but many relatives may not. In addition, they may heat with a wood stove or kerosene heater that can be hot to touch and pose a burn risk for your baby or toddler.
5) New foods- Everybody is always anxious to give babies their first bite of food x-Whether it is Grandma’s sweet potato casserole or a taste of Whipped Cream, it could be a risk for an allergic reaction. Many of the holiday foods we enjoy traditionally have nuts. While most people are perfectly fine with that, children under two should not be exposed to nuts due to an increased likelihood of an allergic reaction. For the child with a known allergy, let your relatives know to please only feed your child what you have prepared or approved.
When I was a Resident, the ER census always started to increase around 1-2pm on Christmas Day. It seemed as the toys were opened and kids had time to play, accidents began to occur. Make sure if your child gets a new bike or skateboard, that she also gets –AND USES-a helmet and other protective gear like elbow pads. Older children receiving BB guns or other firearms need to be instructed in safety features. They should also be made aware of the importance of protecting younger siblings or cousins who may not be as safety conscious.
The Holiday Season, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, is a time of celebration and fun. We hope you also make it a safe and healthy time!!
Michelle Lynch, MD