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Dr. Gwenn: Healthy Holiday Visiting Guide

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One of the questions I get asked most this time of year is how to keep small infants and children healthy with all the holiday visiting that occurs. It can be a challenge at times because some of the variables are out of your control, especially with people in the mix you don't know. But, don't sweat that stuff...focus on what you can control.

1. Make sure everyone in your home 6 months and older gets a flu shot. This is the only way to protect young infants, and everyone, actually. For more information on the flu shot and the changes in this year's flu shot guidelines, click here.

2. Don't sacrifice health for visiting. There are two scenarios to consider: what to do if your infant becomes sick on the eve of a holiday event and what to do if you learn someone in attendance at that event is sick, even with a cold. The younger the infant, the more vulnerable they are to illness and it may be best for the infant to be at home, and not at the event. Your pediatrician can help you make the decision if you are unsure what to do.

3. Have rules about touching the baby. Remember, most viruses (aka "germs") are spread by touch as well as by close contact from air borne droplets. If you feel comfortable having people hold your infant, ask those people to wash their hands first. If they have obvious signs of a cold, tell them honestly you can't take the chance given the age of your child.

4. Watch toddler's at all times. Toddler's can not only get easily spooked in large crowds but can get into trouble quickly because the holiday decorations are not always child-friendly and they can easily mistake wine for apple juice. The best way to keep a toddler safe is to have an adult watching.

5. Keep the visiting length child-focused. Remember you have small children now, so staying for the entire event may not be feasible. You'll have a more enjoyable experience if your time the event is in your children's best interests than your relatives. After all, this is your holiday too.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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