The last thing we want to do if we are sick is pass on our illness to our baby. But as their parents – and especially when breastfeeding, cleaning or generally loving our little one – how can we avoid making them sick too?

Doesn’t getting sick help build their immunity?

For older children this can be the case, and it’s counterproductive to think that we can, or should, raise our children in a plastic bubble. However, a young baby is simply too vulnerable to the health issues that can arise from illness to take this approach. What might cause a runny nose in an adult can have graver consequences for a newborn baby.


You might not be able to stop yourself from touching or being around your baby – especially if you are a single parent – but you can stop others. Play interrogator with any potential visitors to your baby by asking if they are sick or if anyone in their household is sick. If you do have to share the space with a potentially sick person, just politely keep the baby away from their immediate vicinity.

Your own hygiene

Regular hand-washing and sanitising can form the foundations of preventing the spread of any germs or illness. Make sure you do one or the other after using the bathroom, being in public or making dinner and before touching, washing or feeding your baby. Insist that others around you do the same.


The common illnesses that you are likely to experience cannot be transmitted to your baby through breastfeeding. If you have a more serious condition that would preclude you from breastfeeding your baby, your doctor will inform you and discuss the alternatives.

Switch from kisses to hugs

If you are suffering something like the common cold, you won’t want to be breathing, coughing or sneezing on your baby – but that shouldn’t stop you from giving them all the love they deserve! Instead of nuzzling your face up to your little one, give them your TLC by hugging them up to your chest and over your shoulder, as you would during burping.

Use a blanket or cover during feeding

During feeding, make use of a blanket or cover – such as those some women choose to use when breastfeeding in public – and reduce the risk of transferring an airborne illness to your little one.

Call in help

If your illness is dire – red eyes, runny nose, flu-type symptoms – it might be best to call in the help of others. Whether your help is a partner, friend or a family member, sometimes it’s pays to simply play it safe and get someone else to take care of your baby while you take care of yourself.

Look after yourself

Of course, the best way to avoid passing on an illness to your baby is to avoid getting sick in the first place. While this is easier said than done, you can reduce the risks of getting sick by looking after yourself.

Try not to limit the idea of good health to diet, exercise and fluid intake; you must also take into account your emotional and mental health as these can have a direct impact on how susceptible you are to getting sick.