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Tales From the Nursery: The Toddler Years

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5 Tips for New Baby Welcome Etiquette

My daughter shortly after her birth.

When the call comes in that a new baby has been welcomed into the world, it’s very exciting! The first thing we want to do is go visit. While it is a thrill to be one of the first people the new baby meets, it’s not always the best idea to greet them right away. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the basics of new baby welcome etiquette.

Before my daughter was born, I was instructed plenty of times by classes, medical personnel, and books that I should keep her home and away from crowds for the first 4-6 weeks. It was also suggested that I limit the amount of visitors that came into our home. All of this was explained as important to do while Rissa built up her immune system, though no one specifically mentioned the dangers of RSV.

Thinking back to how visitors came to welcome Rissa and how we’ve welcomed newborns, it’s a bit scary. While we tried to follow basic new baby etiquette, the one that is the toughest to address (in my opinion) is about young children touching new babies. It is NOT a good idea to let toddlers or young children be around newborns, especially close enough to kiss and touch their faces. That is a prime example of how RSV spreads. Young children often carry lots of germs if they are in school or daycare. RSV is very easy to spread through touch.

I know some people have a hard time resisting taking their babies out in those early weeks. It is tough to stay cooped up in the house, especially in the winter. However, crowded places like stores expose babies to germs. Lots and lots of germs.

I sort of felt like I turned into a germaphobe when I became a new mom, but I just wanted to protect my daughter. I made it clear from the beginning that hands needed to be washed and/or sanitized when coming in and before handling her. We had sanitizer in practically every room of the house! It was a great visual reminder for our guests though, I think.

It is very important to stand your ground for the safety and well being of your new baby. It is also important that your guests be aware of what is expected of them. They should not be rude about your requests because the concerns of baby getting sick in the first few months of life is a very real issue. And a preventable one. So, these are tips for you to know as a new mom as well as tips for you to know as a guest around a new mom. I put them together in a little acronym to try and make them easy to remember. These are the five most basic things to remember!

CARES New Baby Welcome Etiquette:

Call first. Make sure it is okay to come over. It is tiring to have a newborn and it is difficult to tell a visitor to go away once they are on your doorstep even if it is a bad time for company.

Ask before touching baby. Do not just pick up the baby or touch its face without asking first. Help mom feel comfortable about protecting her little one the best she can by respecting her concerns and boundaries.

Re-wash your hands. You should wash your hands well with soap and water upon entering the home (or hospital room). Re-wash or use waterless hand sanitizer to ensure your hands are as germ-free as possible immediately before holding the baby. RSV can live for hours on surfaces which you may have touched since washing your hands.

Ease responsibilities. Do something to help lighten the load during the first few months by bringing dinner or throwing in a load of laundry. This is less about baby’s safety and more about polite assistance. It’s overwhelming to try and get everything done in those early days.

Stay away with symptoms and young children. If you suspect that you might be getting sick or show any signs of having a cold, stay home. As much as you can’t wait to have your little one meet their new cousin or friend, keep them home. It is very hard to keep little hands off babies and new moms feel awful telling them to stay away! I hated having to ask for others to keep their kid’s hands off my daughter’s face. I felt like a mean person when they just wanted to give them a kiss and a hug, but I knew that opened the door for germs, germs, germs.

If you are a new mom or know a new mom who may be struggling with having her guests abide by new baby welcome etiquette, perhaps this Open Letter may be of use. It shares why some requests may seem like mom is being overprotective, but explains the dangers of RSV exposure. Feel free to download it and use it by clicking on this link: Mom Open Letter

A few facts about RSV that all parents, caregivers and loved ones should know:

  • Almost every baby will contract RSV by age 2, but only 1/3 of moms say they’ve heard of the virus.
  • Serious RSV infection is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
  • RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
  • There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to take preventive steps to help protect their child (e.g., wash hands, toys, bedding frequently; avoid crowds and cigarette smoke).
  • Certain babies are at an increased risk of developing serious RSV infection, so it’s important to speak with a pediatrician to determine if a baby may be at high risk for RSV, and discuss preventive measures.
  • Symptoms of serious RSV infection include: persistent coughing or wheezing; rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths; blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails; high fever; extreme fatigue; and difficulty feeding. Parents should contact a medical professional immediately upon signs of these symptoms.

You need to be especially careful around preemies (babies born prior to 36 weeks of gestation) because they don’t have the same ability to fight off infection that full-term babies do.

Find more information at RSVProtection.com.


Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

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Comments ( 14 )

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  1. olfa March 28, 2012 Reply

    Baby etiquette is so important and many times neglected! When my first child was born, I had crowds as soon as I came back home. It was not easy to deal with. Babies are so fragile and get all these harmful diseases.. thanks for spreading the word about RSV. It is so important
    olfa recently posted..Easter activities for kids: Make Egg Cookiesourfamilyworld

  2. Sara March 28, 2012 Reply

    Thanks for sharing this and spreading the word about RSV.
    Sara recently posted..Mango Habanero Hawaiian Kettle Style Potato Chips!

  3. Lena - @elenka29 March 28, 2012 Reply

    It is all so logical. I was real shocked when i first came into the states and saw moms running around with newborns all over the place
    Lena – @elenka29 recently posted..Creatively Caring: Tooth Fairy Dayelenka29

  4. Ashleigh Walls March 28, 2012 Reply

    My best friend just had her baby and she was asking me so many questions about her leaving and people coming over before she had her. It’s always great to educate parents and those who will visit a newborn about how to handle being around a newborn.
    Ashleigh Walls recently posted..Organic All Natural Conceived By Nature Hair Products Reviewartsavesyou

  5. Gena March 28, 2012 Reply

    This is awesome information. When my boys were born, it seemed like no one understood my worries and what I had read. Everyone just wanted to come over, see the baby, and come to the HOSPITAL! Seriously! Who wants someone in your hospital room when you’ve just pushed a 9 lb baby out and you feel like your whole nether region is about to explode? Not me! No hospital visitors, thankyouverymuch.

    Thanks for this article!
    Gena recently posted..Food Dyes and BehaviorCptFussybuckets

  6. steven March 28, 2012 Reply

    Those aresome awesome tips. THANKSbrothergrimiam

  7. Tahlia B. March 28, 2012 Reply

    I was surprised that many people didn’t understand why we would shield our newborn from germs. We had to constantly remind people that if they weren’t feeling “well” we would have to schedule a visit another time & remind them to wash their hands or use sanitizer just before handing the baby. THIS is why! NOBODY wants to go BACK to the hospital with their little one! Thank you for the tips :)

  8. courtney b March 29, 2012 Reply

    i have a 3 month old so these are great tips- washing your hands is Very important! i make everyone that comes in this house use hand sanitizer OR wash their hands!

  9. I think this advice is good year round and for all babies. I wish they had given us something like this in the hospital to give to well-meaning relatives. My niece is 4 months old and I still wash my hands a million times when I go see her.
    Maggie @ Tethered Mommy recently posted..LeeLee Labels make labeling pretty and easy! (Giveaway, ends 4/11, US/CAN)

  10. Isra April 5, 2012 Reply

    This is very helpful information and so true about keeping the newborn away from all the visiting stangers until their immunity gets built up!
    Isra recently posted..Rubbermaid Hidden Recycler {Giveaway}thefrugalette

    • Darcy April 6, 2012 Reply

      It can be tough to turn people away but it’s better than a sick baby!DarcyZalewski

  11. Danialle M. June 15, 2012 Reply

    I’m about to have my first baby, and I’ve already given this a ton of thought! It’s not going to be easy for me to tell people i’d rather them not hold the baby right now, to turn down visitors, and to insist that people must wash their hands before touching baby. But I’m going to do it, regardless!

    I know everyone is different, but for me, it’s going to be very important that I don’t have relative/friends bothering me during the first few weeks. I’m having a birth center birth where I can go home within a few hours of birth. And I intend on having the first 2-3 weeks with just mama, baby, and daddy. Our parents and siblings are allowed to visit once during the first few days (when I feel up to it), but further relatives and friends have to wait a few weeks.

    If I’m called selfish, well so be it! I have every right to be stingy with my new baby :)

    • Darcy June 15, 2012 Reply

      It can be very hard to enforce but it is so important for baby’s health! Daddy can really come in handy to help run interference and keep visitors away. Thankfully our family wasn’t too pushy and MIL works in a hospital so they were understanding. I’m glad you are looking into this and planning because that will make it easier for you to stick to it! (And congrats!)DarcyZalewski

  12. Danialle M. June 16, 2012 Reply

    Thank you! I’m hoping it all goes smoothly and everyone understands how I feel about having visitors.

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