As Winter approaches, many families worry about how to keep their new baby free from illnesses and viruses.

Here are 6 commonsense things you can do to ensure your baby stays healthy.

The biggest thing is hand-washing. Everyone who comes into your house should wash their hands immediately. Anyone who wants to hold the baby should wash their hands before doing so. Washing your hands is your number-one line of defense for your baby to avoid catching germs.

Especially in the winter months, be really aware of anyone having cold symptoms. A lot of the major risks for babies start off looking like the common cold…including RSV, Pertussis, and the Flu. I often recommend clients put a sign on their front door that says “We have a new baby! If you have any cold symptoms, please reschedule your visit”. That way it doesn’t feel personal against anyone – it’s just about protecting your baby.

Make it a family policy that no one is allowed to kiss the baby, even on their hands (which so often end up in their mouths!). Many germs are passed through contact. Also, oral herpes (which is pretty harmless in adults) can be deadly to a young baby whose immune system is not at full strength.

Avoid having a young baby in closed areas during high illness times (primarily winter!). I recommend holding off on any airline flights if possible until baby is over 2 months and has a strong immune system. Closed rooms and planes tend to recirculate the air, which means they’re prime incubators for moving viruses around!

Keeping your own immune system strong will go a long way as well–especially if you’re breastfeeding. Elderberry syrup or gummies have been shown to help bolster immune systems. Zinc is another powerful way to fight cold and flu viruses. Both can be used daily as part of your self-care, or taken at the first sign of illness.

Explore alternative medicine and see how you feel about it! A lot of my clients look to essential oils or homeopathic remedies. Eating a diet rich in fresh, wholesome foods will help support your immune system.

A newborn who is breastfed benefits from their mother’s immunity. Breastfeeding is a great way to help safeguard your baby. If you become ill or someone else in the family becomes ill, the baby will gain immunity from the antibodies that your body is creating to help fight that virus – even before they catch anything.

If your baby does get sick, watch their temperature. In an older child, especially, a fever is not necessarily a bad thing and does not always need to be reduced. It is the body‘s way of fighting off a virus and illnesses. In babies under one month old, always call your pediatrician if the fever is 100° or more. Keep watching to make sure your baby has plenty of wet diapers. An infant over a week old should have six or more wet diapers a day.

If baby‘s nose is stuffy and it’s difficult for them to breathe through it or to nurse, saline mist can be your best friend. Spray a little bit into nostril and then clean their nostrils out. This can be done with one of the bulb aspirators or even better a NoseFrida. The NoseFrida is such a strange product, but it really does help babies feels so much better. It’s got a great little sponge in there to keep baby’s mucus away from their parents!

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends that families make sure everyone around a new baby gets vaccinated for TDaP and often the flu shot. However, there are a couple of concerns with this. Firstly, not every family agrees with AAP’s protocol. Even if we try, it is not possible to control what those around you do for themselves. Vaccines are not a guarantee that you won’t contract an illness you’ve been vaccinated against (and there is not a vaccine for RSV).

By taking these simple steps, you and your family can get through winter with minimal illnesses.Those that you do catch will hopefully pass quickly!