It is common for children to develop
respiratory problems (such as viral infections) because they are often exposed
to other people who have infections and have not built up immunity. There is no
sure way to prevent many respiratory illnesses in babies and children. Very
young babies are at greater risk for developing complications from respiratory
illnesses, so it is important to do what you can to protect them from exposure.
The following may help reduce your child's risk for respiratory
If you have a respiratory infection, such as a cold or the
flu, or if you are caring for someone with a
wash your hands before caring for your child. Hand-washing eliminates the
germs on your hands and the spread of germs to your child when you touch your
child or touch an object he or she might touch.
If your child goes to a day care center, ask the staff to wash
their hands often to prevent the spread of infection.
Make sure that your child gets all of his or her vaccinations,
especially for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) and for
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). For more
information, see the topic
Breast-feed your baby for at least the first 6 months after birth,
if possible. Breast-fed children develop fewer respiratory problems than those
who are not breast-fed.
If one of your children is sick, separate him or her from other
children in the home, if possible. Put the child in a room alone to
Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. If you smoke, quit. If
you cannot quit, do not smoke in the house or car. Secondhand smoke irritates
the mucous membranes in your child's nose, sinuses, and lungs and increases his
or her risk for respiratory infections. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
Avoid giving young children food or objects that may be improperly
swallowed and inhaled, such as nuts, popcorn, small candies, or small toys. An
inhaled object can lead to a respiratory infection. For more information, see
Swallowed or Inhaled Objects.