4 Ways to Keep Your Baby Healthy and Save Money
by Heather Green
Babies get sick. A lot. They suffer minor colds and flu, ear infections, fevers, stuffy noses, upset tummies, and just general unexplained illness. They catch sickness from other children at daycare. They catch it from strangers in public, your family members, your friends. Their immune systems are not yet fully developed, and they are vulnerable to all manner of illness.
Every time your baby gets sick, you may feel tempted to rush to the doctor’s office — or at least to the drug store. These visits and the medications you feel compelled to buy can start to add up quickly. However, there are alternatives you can choose to do at home to help cut down on illness and to save you money at the same time.
Here are a few ideas to keep your baby healthy and save money.
Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for the health of your baby. Breast milk contains all the nutrients your baby needs for optimal development.
It helps to strengthen your baby’s immune system and protects against food allergies and common ailments, such as ear infections and the flu.
Breast milk also changes to meet your baby’s needs. For example, it contains antibodies that you have developed, helping to protect your baby against illnesses like cold and flu. When others are sick all around you, breast milk may be able to help your baby from suffering the same fate.
Germs are hiding out everywhere you look. They are on the shopping carts at the store, the door handles of every business you enter, and the countertops of every bathroom, office, and kitchen you visit. They are on the hands of the people who hold your baby, whether they are strangers or family.
Take precautions by sanitizing everything. Bring disinfectant wipes for carts, surfaces, and toys.
You shouldn’t go crazy trying to make everything spotless — after all, your baby does need to be exposed to some germs in order to build up a healthy immune system — but you should be proactive about wiping down surfaces to get rid of common germs, especially during cold and flu season.
Also, be careful about the cleaners you choose. Some sanitizers have harmful chemicals in them. Choose all-natural products and gentle cleansers for basic protection that doesn’t pose additional threats to your baby’s health.
If you can afford to stay home with your child, you should. It will insulate your child against the sea of germs that strangers carry with them every day. If you can’t afford to stay home, try to find a family member or friend who can watch your baby. Putting your baby in daycare will significantly increase the odds that he or she will become ill — many times over.
Daycare helps illness spread quickly by putting many children into close contact with one another. If one becomes ill, all of them are likely to become ill very soon. The more children are in the daycare, the higher the chances that your baby will become very sick. Just as one child is getting over the illness, another is catching it, creating a perpetual cycle that keeps feeding itself.
Immunizations help protect your baby against serious health conditions, including polio and diptheria. They also protect your baby against even minor illnesses, such as the flu. Following the recommended vaccine schedule can help to ensure that your baby is protected against these illnesses, some of which are potentially life-threatening.
If you know that you will have to put your baby in daycare, getting the recommended vaccines becomes even more important as your baby’s potential exposure to these illnesses increases significantly. Vaccines (and breastfeeding) can help limit your baby’s vulnerability to illnesses spread in daycare, reducing the likelihood that he or she will fall sick.
Keeping your baby healthy is often a simple matter of making proactive choices. You can breastfeed to help build your baby’s immunity and then sanitize, immunize, and avoid daycare to protect against illness. You won’t guarantee that your baby never becomes ill, but you will reduce the chances of it happening significantly. Fewer illnesses means fewer trips to the doctor, and that will save on your bottom line.
What other ways do you help keep your baby healthy and save on your budget? Share your ideas in the comments!
(Heather Green is a mom, freelance writer, pet lover and the resident blogger for OnlineNursingDegrees.org, a free informational website offering tips and advice about online healthcare admin degrees and online physical therapy assistant courses.)