Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Allergy-Proofing Your Baby

Having a baby who is not feeling well is a tough spot as a parent since your baby cannot tell you what is wrong. Instead you are left guessing, and that can be frustrating! If you or your partner have significant allergies, then chances are high that your baby will, too. You can watch for signs, such as runny nose and wheezing, but you should work even before baby arrives to keep the allergens away. There are some simple, and some not-so-simple, ways to help reduce the allergens in your life.

First you should use only dustproof pillowcases. Although baby will not use a pillow in the beginning, you should be aware of the need to use these cases before you buy a pillowcase for baby. Also be sure that you have allergy-free bedding for the crib. Check the tags and look online if you cannot find anything in nearby stores. Avoid feather down pillows. While they feel wonderful and are softer, they are awful for people with allergies. You should get rid of your own if you have allergies, but also think about the potential allergy danger when baby is lying down with you.

Be sure that you wash the bedding in the crib at least once a week. Despite the color of the sheets, use hot water. It will help to wash out any of the allergens that may be present, particularly if you have pets. Instead of washing on the sheets from the crib, make sure you toss in yours as well. All of the bedding should be washed regularly to help prevent the build-up of allergens.

Once baby is a little bigger, try to avoid letting him or her go outside to play when the pollen count is high. If you are unsure about the pollen count, you should check local weather stations or look online. Most of them provide the pollen count and tell you if it is a high or low day. While baby may love to go to the park, avoid it when there are many allergens out because it will make all of you miserable in the end!

Keep your home clean and dry. If you live in a moist area, be sure that you are keeping the inside of your house clean, or you are inviting mold, mildew, and other allergens into your life. If you have not been the best housekeeper in the world, that is okay. Now is the time to change. You will reduce the risk that your child will have allergies if you will follow a few basic principles when it comes to taking care of potential allergens. Be sure that you dust often with an allergy-free duster. Also get a HEPA filter vacuum if possible and work on vacuuming your home at least two times per week.

If you have pets, then you will discover that you may need to work a bit harder. Cat dander is almost impossible to keep away from baby. If there is any way that you can keep the cats from the nursery, that really is your best bet. You also may consider netting that goes over cribs that will keep away the cats. Be sure that you vacuum with HEPA filters everyday if you have cats, especially when baby starts moving around.

These tips will not keep your child from getting allergies, but they will help. If you can keep your child away from some of the allergens, then you may be able to reduce the amount of time that he or she spends sick. While you should not aim for a spotless house, as it is neither healthy nor practical with a baby, you should aim to have a home that is free from major allergens.

If you need to work on your cleaning routine, then do it. Now is the time to work on cleaning more often. As baby grows, he or she will take up more time. It will become more and more difficult as baby grows to add cleaning into the mix. Starting your family on this path now will help you to make cleaning a normal part of your routine. Make it a priority. It is important to your health.

By Julia Mercer

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