Many people have become first-time parents, or parents all over again, during the pandemic. If you’re still expecting, you’re probably beginning to think about how to protect your baby from the coronavirus once he or she arrives. Doctors agree that continuing to follow all the health recommendations you do as a grown-up will help keep your little one safe, too.
To mask, or not to mask?
If you’re going out in public, you know by now to grab a mask for yourself. For infants, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to avoid masking and focus on keeping a six-foot distance from others instead.
“Children under 2 should not wear a mask,” said Josie Maione, MD, board-certified family medicine physician with Baptist Primary Care. “It would be best to keep the baby out of public as much as possible, but if a trip somewhere is necessary, the parents should keep him or her in a stroller, covered with a light muslin blanket. Just be careful not to do this in the car or any place without air conditioning, as it can get warm for baby.”
What about the mad rush of family and friends who want to come over and meet your new bundle of joy? Most hospitals are limiting visitors right now due to the pandemic, but what is the safest way to introduce your baby to excited loved ones once you get home?
“If it were my newborn baby, I would be nesting for a minimum of one month, but probably closer to three months, and there would be no visitors except for immediate family members who have quarantined appropriately,” said Dr. Maione. “Visitors would need to wear an effective mask, wash their hands, and definitely not kiss the baby. I personally would not feel comfortable until a person tested negative for COVID twice. This is extreme, I know, but if parents are looking for the safest recommendations out there, these are the ones.”
Introducing your infant
If you plan to allow people to visit your new baby, Dr. Maione suggests moms and dads make sure those guests:
- Have not experienced COVID-19 symptoms in the last 14 days.
- Have not brought along smaller children, who tend not to cover coughs or sneezes.
- Have brought an appropriate mask.
- Have washed their hands thoroughly before touching the baby.
“I understand people are excited with new babies, but people need to be cautious. None of this is really written in stone — it's just about common sense and what parents are willing to accept as a reasonable risk,” Dr. Maione added.
One of the most important things parents can do to ensure their newborn stays healthy is to attend all those well-child and vaccination appointments with the pediatrician.
“Absolutely every child should attend their doctor visits. The younger the child, the more important it is,” said Dr. Maione. “Just take the precautions above if your child is a newborn or under 2, social distance as much as possible, and wash your hands frequently.”