Medical Q&As

Infectious toddler

I gave birth to my second child, a baby girl, several weeks ago. Her sibling is a very affectionate toddler who is prone to coughs and colds. How do I stop the baby from catching infection from her brother?

Young babies develop immunity from being exposed to infectious diseases and this experience results in the creation of antibodies which protect the child. Babies are not born with a full complement of antibodies. They develop them by being exposed to infection therefore childhood infections can be considered to be a normal part of childhood development. If the older child was very sick it would be sensible to keep the children physically apart and avoid them sharing cups, soothers and feeding utensils. However, it is possible to be overly scrupulous when faced with a sick toddler in the house. There may be hidden dangers in adopting too rigorous a policy of isolation for all infectious illness. This could cause sibling jealousy and rivalry.