The flu and your baby

You know that the best way to protect your baby from the flu is to make sure he gets a flu shot each year before flu season (October through May). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that everyone 6 months and older get the flu shot each year. It’s especially important for children younger than 5 to get the flu shot because they’re more likely than older kids to have serious health problems caused by the flu.

Signs and symptoms of the flu

However, even if your baby gets the flu shot, he can still get the flu. And the flu can be dangerous for all children, even healthy children. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of the flu so that you can contact your baby’s health care provider. Your baby may have the flu if he has these signs or symptoms:

  • Very tired
  • Loud dry cough and sore throat
  • Fever (usually above 101 F), chills or body shakes
  • Headache or muscle or body aches
  • Not being hungry
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Vomiting (throwing up) and diarrhea

Babies who have the flu are usually sicker, fussier and appear more uncomfortable and unhappy than babies with a common cold.

Treatment

To treat or prevent the flu in your baby, his provider may prescribe an antiviral medicine. An antiviral is a medicine that kills infections caused by viruses. Antivirals can make your baby’s flu milder and help your baby feel better faster. Antivirals also can help prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia. For flu, antivirals work best if used within 2 days of having signs or symptoms.

If your baby is at high risk for flu, his provider may prescribe an antiviral as soon as he begins to have flu symptoms. All children younger than 5 are at high risk for flu, especially children younger than 2. Children who were born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or who have chronic health conditions, like asthma or sickle cell disease, also are at high risk.

It’s not too late to get you and your baby a flu shot if you haven’t dome so already. Your baby’s provider can give the shot, and many pharmacies and other places offer it. Use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find out where you can get a flu shot for your baby.

Have questions? Email AskUs@marchofdimes.org

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One Response to “The flu and your baby”

  1. Jenny Broadus Says:

    Our little one is 7 months old and she has battled a cold, bronchitis, and an ear infection since the day after thanksgiving. Since she was sick we had to wait until this past Friday (12/15/17) to get her 6 month shots. While I was at the doctors office their was so many other little ones coughing and sneezing, I never put my baby down I held her the whole time. Finally we made it to the back in a room and I told her doctor I wanted a FLU shot to protect her from getting it. Well this past monday (12/18/17) I started noticing her fever, and discomfort. I took her into the doctors the following day and they told me she had the FLU. I couldn’t believe it !! I was so sad for her, I knew it was gonna be rough for her. I think it is a great thing that they have a vaccine to protect our babies but it also takes up to two weeks to actually start working. What a coincidence that I took her to get her FLU shot and she got the FLU that same day at the doctors office !! Our baby girl is a fighter though, through all of this she has still been a happy baby for the most part!!

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