Fall is Flu Season

Christine Sweeney, LICSW Program Manager, Parent Connection, BIDMC

SEPTEMBER 25, 2018


It’s that time of year again, and you may already have gotten information from your pediatrician’s office about the flu vaccine. The discussion around vaccinations is an important one to have with your pediatrician, and this blog is not a commentary on vaccinations, it’s more a discussion about trying to avoid exposure to germs when your baby seems to be a magnet that everyone wants to touch.

If you have a baby and are already anxious about germs/infections, (this too would be normal) flu season really takes it up a notch. There’s something about babies that people just seem to want to touch. Some people are fine with just looking and commenting, but then there are the ones who somehow feel it is perfectly fine to approach a mom and baby that they don’t know and touch the baby. Typically, they got right for baby’s hands which baby then of course puts directly into his/her mouth. Germ transfer completed.

In the moms groups I lead, this issue comes up all the time. We discuss with outrage and amazement the lack of respect for boundaries that seems widespread, and then strategize about how to protect the little ones from “the touchers”. Some parents find the infant carriers to be great, especially if baby is still small enough to be facing inward. Others find the mosquito like netting that fits over the stroller to be enough of a barrier to stop a “toucher” long enough so that a parent has the chance to intervene. Other amusing ideas have include the use of signage in bold letters DON’T TOUCH THE BABY.

Regardless of strategy, the take home message is that it is perfectly fine and necessary that you intervene in whatever way works for you, to stop strangers from touching your baby. Along that same line, it is perfectly acceptable and actually important especially now, that you to ask family and friends to please wash their hands before touching your baby, and to please not visit if they are sick.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children over age 6 months receive the flu vaccine, and offers some of the following guidelines to keep flu germs from spreading

  • Everyone should wash their hands often.
  • Don’t let children share pacifiers, cups, spoons, forks washcloths or towels before washing. Never share toothbrushes.
  • Wash doorknobs, toilet handles, countertops and even toys. Use a disinfectant wipe or a cloth with soap and hot water. 

Call your doctor right away if your child shows any signs of the flu and:

  • Is 3 months or younger and has a fever
  • Has fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Looks very sick
  • Is more sleepy than usual
  • Is very fussy no matter what you do
  • Cannot or will not drink anything.

For a more comprehensive information about the flu including symptoms go to the AAA website,


So please, if you have any doubts or hesitation about enforcing a hand washing rule, don’t. The flu isn’t fun, especially if you’re a new parent. It’s not worth risking your little one’s getting sick because you don’t want to offend anyone, or be judged as an “anxious’ new mom. Offend away.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
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