In December 2019 when the media started talking about a certain novel coronavirus affecting Wuhan in China, many people and governments of the world thought it was nothing to be worried about. Fast forward to March 2020, there are currently over 170,000 cases of coronavirus all over the world with over 6,000 deaths. There are also over 70,000 recoveries, to show that COVID-19 is not an ultimate death sentence. Anyone can get COVID-19 and any age group can die from it, especially if they already had a preexisting health problem. As parents of babies, infants and toddlers, you may be worried about how to prevent your child from getting COVID-19 considering that Australian media reported a case of an infected baby earlier this month. Not to worry, this article will highlight some essential preventive measures you can take to protect your baby from the coronavirus.
You owe it to yourself, your loved ones, your community, and kids to protect yourself from COVID-19. It all starts with keeping good hygiene practices such as regularly washing your hands with soap and water, disinfecting surfaces in your home and place of work, and avoiding touching public places with your bare hands. You should also avoid touching people as you may not be able to know who's infected and who's not. When you cough or sneeze, ensure that you do so into a tissue or your elbows, and not your palms. You should avoid touching your eyes, ears, nose and mouth with your hands. Additionally, make sure you always wash the objects such as cups and feeding bottles etc, that you use for your baby. Don't forget to wash your baby’s hands and face regularly. Being mindful of your hygiene practices will ensure that your baby is safe.
Avoid Crowded Places
While it is not advisable to enter a panic mode concerning the epidemic, social distancing is a safe practice that should be done during these times. So, limit your outings and be mindful of where your kids go. In fact, at this point, your babies should have limited outings because you won't always be available to monitor their interaction with people and objects. This means that you can take your kids off daycare. If you are one of those who do not consider it necessary to suspend daycare, ensure that you thoroughly wash their hands, face, body and clothes when they return.
Breastfeeding and Formula
If you feed your formula, it is advisable to prepare it with hot water - you can put it in the fridge to cool off before feeding your baby. Always wash your hands before preparing the formula, and wash and sterilize your formula bottles after feeding your baby. Now, if your baby is under six months, older or still a toddler, it is advisable to breastfeed him or her. Breast milk contains important components that can protect your kid from infections and fortify their immune system against viruses such as the COVID-19.
What if you already have Coronavirus? This may come as a surprise but scientists have not found coronavirus in breast milk, so if you suspect yourself of having the virus or you already have it, keep breastfeeding your baby. What if you are in self-isolation or what if you're hospitalized? You can still express breast milk for your baby. Your baby needs breast milk at this stage to protect against the virus.
Stock Up Supplies
If it's not too late for you to buy baby supplies such as diapers, formula and whatnots, then you should try to buy up to three weeks supply of baby essentials. Should there be a lockdown, your baby will have enough supplies to last for at least three weeks.
At this point, you need to be mindful of who is allowed to touch your baby, it doesn't matter whether the person is a relative or friend. And for those who are allowed to touch your baby, always give them a hand sanitizer to clean their hands before they touch your kid. If you cannot look after your kid because you are self-isolating or hospitalized, you can ask a trusted relative to look after your kid. It will be best if you can get someone even before you suspect yourself of having the virus, as you will be able to confirm that he or she is safe to look after your kids while you are away. Usually, grandparents serve this purpose, but since coronavirus poses more risk for people who are 60 years old and older, it may not be advisable to use grandparents. Instead, seek an alternate childcare provider. You can also ask grandparents to take strict preventive measures to protect themselves against COVID-19. This will make it possible for them to take care of your baby if you have to self-isolate or get quarantined. Strangers should not be allowed to touch your baby no matter what.
Engage in Outdoor Activities
Since you won't be going out much, it is advisable that you and your kids spend some time outside your house in the open every day. You can always play with your baby in your garden as it will give you the opportunity to exercise your body. At this point, you need to boost your immune system and that of your baby. Outdoor activities such as running around, jumping, etc, will enhance immune function for you and your baby thus fortifying you and your baby against coronavirus.
Over To You
This is not a time to panic, it is not a time to buy unnecessary things such as face masks or toilet papers in bulk, and it is certainly not a time to be nonchalant. We've seen how COVID-19 is affecting Italy, Iran and other countries, and we've also seen how other countries such as Netherlands, China and a few others are managing the epidemic. It's all in the hands of each one of us to protect ourselves from the pandemic. We can beat it and we will by being disciplined.