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5 tips for Life With A Preterm Baby

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 10:03 PM | Claire (Administrator)

5 Tips for getting through the Cough, Cold and Illness Season this winter with a preemie

A mother of three premature children, including twins, provides tips on getting through the first winter.  Written by Carolyn Leighton-Hilborn

 Nobody enjoys those first few moments you realize you have a new scratchy tickle in the back of your throat or the watery eyes that seem to be the first signs a cold is taking over your body. Imagine how it feels for a baby, especially a premature baby, who cannot explain how they are feeling, except through cries or physical signs they are unwell. Here is a list of several common winter illnesses and their symptoms.

We are approaching the season of winter illnesses, which can have a greater impact on premature babies during their first year.

As a mother of three prematurely born children, I can tell you no experience will be exactly the same during a baby’s first winter. My firstborn preemie made it through his first winter unscathed by illness, while two years later my twins had very different health experiences during their first winter. The one thing in common was that I handled each winter season the same way. Each baby received the same type of care and approach to avoiding illness wherever possible. Yet, we had three entirely different health experiences. In other words, as much as we might try to protect our children, there are no guarantees they will not get sick.

What steps can you take to decrease the chance of your preemie catching an illness during the winter months?

Here are 5 tips to help you prepare for the cough, cold and illness season:

Make a policy Yes, I’m serious. Decide as a family how you will approach the common winter illness season. What are you comfortable with? Are you okay with taking your preemie out to the mall, baby play groups or visits with friends? What are the risks? What steps will you take to avoid illness whenever possible? Talk to your child’s doctor and ask for input on how to deal with this first winter season with your preemie. Discuss these concerns with your partner and other family members and create a policy, so to speak, on how you will strive to support your preemie’s healthcare needs.  It is important that your family is on the same page in order for you to feel confident these plans will be followed. Remember you are human and will likely need to tweak your ideals depending on the situation.

A policy already in place will come in handy when you consider whether or not to have guests over during the holidays or for your baby’s first birthday.

Good hand hygiene This is one of the most important steps to take to protect your entire family from winter illness. Do you wash your hands the right way and for the right amount of time? If you’re not sure, check out a quick tutorial on How do I wash my hands properly from the World Health Organization.

Preemies often have many visitors coming into the home, from healthcare providers to family and friends. Consider keeping hand sanitizer pumps in various places in the home – in the family room, the kitchen, by the change table. Don’t be embarrassed to ask visitors to clean their hands when they enter the home and prior to holding your child.

No ill visitors When making arrangements for people to visit you in your home, make sure to inform them they must be in good health to visit. Explain to your guests the importance of protecting your premature baby’s immune system, as common illnesses can be very problematic for preemies.

Posts a sign at your front door, outlining your baby’s prematurity and ask visitors to come in only if they are well and do not have cold symptoms, no matter how minor.

Avoid sharing items amongst siblings This tip is relevant to a parent who has a baby and a toddler or perhaps multiple births babies, who are likely to share items from time to time. If your children like to chew on and play with the same toys, remember to clean them or wipe them down between uses. Obviously you can’t control sharing at all times, however, it does help avoid exchanging saliva and germs between each child. 


This post is part of the #HealthyThisWinter Campaign sponsored by AbbVie Canada.  The experience and comments listed above are my own.


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