Flu is a contagious disease, which spreads easily. Children under age 2 have a higher risk of developing complications if they get the flu. All parents should learn how to protect their children under age 2 from the flu. The following information lets you know more about symptoms and treatment of flu in infants. Use this information to increase your knowledge, but don’t use it to treat your child. If you think your child may have the flu, you should contact your child’s doctor right away.
Symptoms Of Flu In Infants And Toddlers
Flu is an infection of the nose, throat, and (sometimes) lungs. The following are the signs and symptoms of flu:
- Acting tired and cranky much of the time and not feeding well
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Has a fever or feels feverish (if no thermometer available)
- Runny nose
How Doctors Treat Flu In Children?
Children younger than 2 years old will often need to be treated with medicines that fight off the flu virus. These medicines are called antiviral medicines. These medicines works best if started within 48 hours after symptoms begin, if possible.
Doctors may use Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) in liquid form to treat flu. Although this drug is not approved for use in children younger than 1 year of age, serious side effects are quite rare. After talking about the risk of side effects against the possible complications of the flu in your baby, you and your child’s doctor may decide to use this medicine to treat the flu.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) help lower fever in children. Sometimes, your child’s doctor will tell you to use both types of medicine.
Always check with your child’s doctor before giving any cold medicines to your infant or toddler.
When Should My Baby Get Flu Vaccine?
All infants 6 months or older should get first flu vaccine, even if they have had a flu-like illness. The flu vaccine is not approved for children under 6 months old.
- Your child will get a second flu vaccine around 4 weeks after receiving the vaccine for the first time.
- There are two types of flu vaccine. One is given as a shot, and the other is sprayed into your child's nose.
The flu shot contains killed (inactive) viruses. It is not possible to get the flu from this type of vaccine. The flu shot is approved for children age 6 months and older.
A nasal spray-type flu vaccine uses a live, weakened virus instead of a dead one like the flu shot. It is approved for healthy children over 2 years.
Anyone who lives with or has close contact with children younger than 6 months old should also have a flu shot.
Does The Flu Vaccine Have Any Harmful Effects On My Baby?
Some parents are afraid the vaccine could hurt their baby. Some children may get a low-grade fever for a day or two after the shot. If more severe symptoms develop or they last for more than 2 days, you should call the doctor right away. You or your baby cannot get the flu from flu vaccine.
Tips For Keeping Your Baby From Getting The Flu
Anyone who has flu symptoms should not care for a newborn or infant, including feeding. If a person with symptoms must care for the child, the caretaker should use a face mask and wash their hands well. Everyone who comes in close contact with your baby should do the following:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away after using it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds, especially after you cough or sneeze. You may also use alcohol-based hand cleaners.
If your baby is younger than 6 months old and has close contact with someone with the flu, inform your doctor.
Flu And Breastfeeding
You can breastfeed your baby even if you have flu and taking anti-viral medicines. Breast milk is considered safe if the mother is taking antivirals. However, the baby may get flue if she is very close to you while breastfeeding. So, if you are sick, you may need to express your milk for use in bottle feedings given by a healthy person. It is unlikely a newborn can catch flu from drinking your breast milk when you are sick.
When should I Call Baby’s Doctor?
Talk to your child's doctor or go to the emergency room if:
- Your child does not act alert or more comfortable when the fever goes down.
- Fever and flu symptoms come back after they have gone away.
- The child does not have tears when crying.
- The child's diapers are not wet, or the child has not urinated for the last 8 hours.