Family gatherings. Holiday parties. Festive meals. Navigating these occasions can be nerve-wracking for new parents. Newborns do not yet have a mature immune system to combat common viruses and germs that adults come in contact with, nearly every day. Whether it's the norovirus, the flu or just a nasty cold, babies are especially susceptible to them all.
But how do parents let family and friends know that kissing, touching and hugging their newborn may not be welcome and in fact, can be detrimental to their baby's health? It's a very sticky situation, even if Aunt Flo's fingers aren't so sticky.
Here are five tips to keep your baby healthy, and you a little more relaxed for the holidays.
1. Tell them
If you're just not comfortable with the amount of people wanting to hold your baby, or the possibility that they may share their germs with your little one, gently tell them. Some phrases you may find helpful are:
- I wish you could hold her but until she's a little older and/or has had her vaccines, her immune system is too fragile, so I'm not passing her around just yet.
- (Blame it on your doctor) "My pediatrician said" I need to limit her exposure ...
- "It's the new parent in me. I'm just not ready to let him go yet..."
2. Wash hands
Before handing your baby over, kindly ask each person to wash their hands. If they've just come in from the cold, getting the chill out under warm, soapy water will also be more comfortable for the baby. And regardless of your baby's age or immunity, washing hands is always a good idea for everyone.
No one can hold your baby if she's snuggled against you in a baby carrier, sling or wrap. Most people won't want to disturb a sleeping or content baby by asking you to undo the carrier. And if they do - well, that's an easy, "Sorry, no can do."
A swaddled baby has hands and feet covered. So, no tiny digits to stroke or kiss. Put a hat on him and there's not much skin left exposed. If you do want a break from holding your baby, this outfit is the best option, with a reminder not to rub noses or get too close to baby's face.
5. Hand mitts
Want to show off baby's special holiday onesie or Grandma's hand-picked dress? Accessorize with baby hand mitts or covers. These are generally used to prevent baby from scratching themselves but they can also serve the purpose of preventing others from touching little fingers (that will then go in their mouth). The downside, though, is that hand mitts prevent baby from exploring her sense of touch. (It may be worth the trade off, though, for a short-lived family dinner.)