The holidays are here, and so are many seasonal illnesses. Given how easily newborns can contract illness, today, the Board Certified Nurse-Midwives at Baby+Co. are weighing in on the age-old question: how to keep baby healthy during the holidays when they are around so many people?
One thing we want to keep in mind is that it’s important for babies to feel love from their family. We like to take a smart and careful family-friendly approach.
The Obvious: Anyone that is currently sick should not be kissing or holding the baby
No matter how precious and sweet your new little one is, no matter how excited your family members may be – if they are sick (or even sniffling), the easy answer here is hands off.
Remind anyone who is even around the baby to wash their hands, and keep Purell handy when taking baby out of the house, or when you have visitors over.
The Not-So-Obvious: Vaccinations
One thing we often forget as adults is that most of the vaccinations we received as children wear off with time. Pertussis (more commonly called whooping cough) in particular is highly contagious and easily passed to babies by adults who are not up to date on their DTaP vaccine, which wears off after ten years or so. Adults can get a bad cough from this sickness, but it is not fatal for adults in the way that it can be for infants, small children, and the elderly.
It’s important to recognize that infections that are a nuisance to healthy adults can be serious dangers for babies, especially newborns. Be proactive.
What To Do: Set Boundaries Beforehand
Talk with any guests and family members who will be around baby about how to be prepared with things like hand washing, Purell, and whether or not kissing is something you are comfortable with. If you want to gently correct someone, we recommend saying something to them after rather than in the moment, as it can feel like rejection if you tell them to stop. A simple, “We’re trying to get through the season without any illness” should suffice.
Where possible, you can also make a point to spend more time with people who respect your boundaries and who treat your little one with the care and handling you are comfortable with.
Strategies For Difficult Family Members
What to do when you have family members and friends who don’t respect your boundaries, even when you’ve said something? If you’re in a position where you still have to see them at holiday gatherings, there are ways to mitigate their interactions with baby. Here are some of our midwives’ favorite tricks:
- Use a Moby Wrap or chest carrier to keep baby close. Folks won’t get in baby’s face nearly as much as if baby were in a bucket carrier.
- Nurse baby. Obviously, this can’t happen the whole time, but if you bring baby out or near folks while nursing, they are also unlikely to get too close.
- Again: keep the Purell handy, and don’t be afraid to remind people to use it.
P.S. To visit with a midwife for any of your postpartum needs from the comfort of your own home, visit our new online service, Ask Baby+Co. No question is too big or small.