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.