Some hospitals have a no-kids rule when it comes to visiting a new baby, but what about when you’ve settled in at home — should you keep your friends’ kids away?
This question is a definite concern for moms. The immune system of a newborn baby is so fresh that she’s more susceptible to illness, and it can be hard for her to fight sickness off. Older children, particularly those who are in day care and school, are prone to hosting viruses on a regular basis. So should you ban kiddos from coming over when you have a newborn?
“Banning seems a bit much, but newborns are immuno-incompetent and thus vulnerable to overwhelming infection, so should be protected from exposure to possible sources of infection,” says Charles Shubin, M.D., director of pediatrics at Mercy FamilyCare, a division of Family Health Centers of Baltimore.
The obvious reason you shouldn’t ban kid visitors might be in your own home — if you have older children, there’s really no getting around it. But there are a few strategies you can put into place to help keep your baby’s risk low. And if you follow a few guidelines, there’s no reason you should keep your friends’ kids away, either.
For starters, as a new mom, you can and should set a few ground rules for visitors and assign a go-between (such as your partner or your mother) to run interference so you don’t have to directly deal with them yourself.
For example, it’s not unheard of to block most or all visitors for the first days, or even weeks, of your baby’s life. This is not necessarily about germs, either — childbirth is hard work and not only does your baby need to adjust to life outside the womb, you need to recover.
Quiz your visitors before they even leave their own homes — again, this is something that another family member can do. If anyone is sick, or has sick people in their home, they should wait. A little cold for a 3-year-old (or an adult) can be really dangerous to a newborn.
When you do have visitors over, no matter their age, have them wash their hands before they hold your baby. Our hands touch so many germ-ridden surfaces, and while our immune systems can take care of most of it, a baby in the first few months of life is more vulnerable.
Being concerned about your baby’s well-being doesn’t make you a helicopter parent. While moms of many tend to be a bit more relaxed than first-timers, keeping a newborn baby safe and healthy is always a mother’s top priority. There’s really no need to ban the little ones from coming over, but definitely require them to wash their hands first before they touch your baby.