COVID-19 and Other Viral Infections
Covid-19 is a highly contagious disease that has evolved into a pandemic. It is a major global concern that parents are not immune to. Although children are not the first victims of the disease, they are also very exposed and are healthy carriers capable of transmitting the virus. Also, protecting infants, young children and adolescents must be a priority that parents, guardians, nannies, or whoever has custody of the children, must keep in mind.
1. Adopt strict hygiene and other measures during breastfeeding.
Infants are extremely dependent, due to this dependence, they have a high level of exposure. As such, they deserve special attention. In the case of an infected mother but isolated at home, given the low potential for transmission of the viruses responsible for respiratory diseases through breast milk and as it has not been proven that the coronavirus is transmitted through breast milk, it would be advisable to continue breastfeeding.
However, strict hygiene of mother and infant is necessary: systematic hand washing before breastfeeding and handling of infant utensils, compulsory wearing of masks are among other measures that are mandatory in this case. Also, the mother and her child need to keep their environment clean, cleaning it with hydro-alcoholic solutions dosed at least 60% or, if necessary, with chlorine as a more accessible solution.
Parents must also avoid the multiplication of unnecessary emotional gestures (hugs, human contact, etc.). In all cases, it is not recommended to put on masks for children under two years old given the high risk of suffocation that can result.
2. Directly inform the household staff of preventive measures
It is essential to pass messages and precautionary measures directly to household staff (housekeepers, nannies, guards, gardeners, etc.) to strengthen compliance with instructions in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. The nannies, the aunt, the cousin, or the big sister who take over the care of your child, when you are obliged to move, must necessarily apply the same instructions and principles which are, to you, taxable.
Access to information is not necessarily the same for everyone, it is advisable to pass clear instructions for the regular cleaning of surfaces. Particular attention should be paid to metal structures, (chairs, tables, taps, games, stairs, etc.), due to the durability of the virus on these structures. Keep in mind: everyone’s state of health and especially that of your baby in the face of the virus depends closely on the hygiene of the whole house and its occupants.
3. Wash your hands, wash babies’ hands too
It is well known that touching and palpating is part of the learning process of children who also like to put whatever comes into their hands in their mouths. If you can educate them to wash their hands and not to put their hands in their mouths and face, that is better! If you can get them to do it, make sure it’s done right (water, soap and rinse, air dry). But, in these times of coronavirus, it is important to keep children under constant supervision.
4. Respect the vaccination schedule
So as not to expose children, parents tend to avoid hospitals, clinics, and vaccination centers. However, continuing the vaccines is imperative to avoid the resurgence of certain pathologies. Also even in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is crucial to respect the vaccine schedule as discussed and agreed with the pediatrician.
Even in these times of crisis, it is necessary to avoid self-medication because taking medicines without a prescription can worsen the child’s situation and/or expose him more. In case of emergency, call your pediatrician or medical help for guidance if you absolutely need to administer medication.
At the same time, continue to feed children well with vegetables, fruits, starchy foods (porridge) to strengthen their immune system. The same recommendation is valid for the nursing mother who must also eat a well-balanced diet to maintain good health.
5. Avoid unnecessary outings and visits
This period is special and requires the greatest precautions to be taken not to expose children. Covid-19 is a disease that has a high potential for spreading and, to protect children, all outings that are not strictly necessary must be avoided. At the same time, it is also important to reduce visits from relatives and friends, which can represent a high potential for contamination.
6. Avoid stress, it’s also contagious
Not to be overwhelmed by stress, not to be distressed by the worries of life and the coronavirus, it is difficult but not impossible! This is the time to take care of yourself mentally for your well-being but also for that of your offspring to whom you risk communicating your state of mind. Occupy their time with educational and recreational games.
Channel them towards the elementary knowledge they are supposed to acquire at their age: colors, shapes, lateralization (right; left). Maintain a reassuring environment as much as possible but stimulating and moody at times. Because parental stress can be communicated to children and cause typical behaviors such as sleep disorders, eating disorders, etc.
In the end, these tips are practical but far from exhaustive. Make them your own and incorporate them into your daily practices. Inform yourself and consult specialized websites dedicated to parents and which provide valuable advice in these times.
Establish protocols that define all the steps and measures to be taken in the event of contamination of your child (or yourself). Write down the emergency numbers for your respective areas and those of your pediatrician in a visible and easily identifiable place in your home for immediate medical care.
Finally, general precautions are always in order. In these times of confinement when children do not go to school, the risks of domestic accidents are higher. Also, vigilance about the virus should in no way prevent attention to other risks for children of this age. Remember, they are also at risk of sexual, physical, and domestic violence which can traumatize them. So, be extra vigilant. Increase protective measures.