Q: How can I keep my baby from catching colds?

A: Unfortunately, some level of cold-catching is unavoidable for most babies. That's because as they get older and are they're exposed to other people and places (even if they're not in daycare), they encounter a whole wide world of germs that their immune systems are too immature to fend off. To put things in perspective, babies and young kids can get up to eight colds a year, each of which can last from seven to 10 days. So if it seems like your baby is always sick, that's because she might have up to 80 days of sniffles and sneezes in 6 months, or about every other week! Of course, as your child grows and her immune system muscles up, the colds will become fewer and farther between.

All that said, there are some things you can keep colds to a minimum. Be sure to wash your hands and your baby's hands often, and try to keep your child's hands out of her mouth, nose, and eyes (a challenge with a baby or toddler, we know). It's also helpful to keep your baby's environment as clean as possible, so regularly wipe down tables, countertops, toys, door handles and bathrooms. And lastly, avoid playdates with kids who are obviously sick, and have under-the-weather relatives and caregivers take a hiatus from spending time with baby until they're feeling better.

Copyright 2005 Meredith Corporation. Updated 2009.

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