I am not a doctor, and this is not medical advice. Luckily, however, most of this is common knowledge.. and common sense! Spoiler Alert: Keeping your baby safe is the #1 priority, not other people's feelings.
Internet parenting forums have become my favorite pastime.
As the seasons change, there is a never ending and recurrent topic that seemingly plagues all of us. How do we keep our infants healthy and safe during the cold and flu seasons?
I admit, I was nearly paralyzed with fear over the mere thought of someone getting my precious newborn baby sick. But it was partly due to the bizarre desperation people tend to exhibit when a new baby arrives. A phenomenon also known in the forum space as "baby rabies."
To be fair, I also spent 9 months reading horror stories about said rabies and the relatives suffering from it. Relatives that selfishly lied about contagious illness, and even hid recent Covid exposures just to circumvent parent's rules about not visiting their newborn baby while sick. I know, it seems unfathomable to literally anyone sane, but it really happens! I so wish there was a one size fits all way to ward off illness (and overbearing relatives) however, while one does not exist, there are common sense practices we can all put in place to help avoid the “ick” this winter season.
For starters, HAND WASHING.
This is going to be the first line of defense for your LO’s protection.
Implore your loved ones to use proper hand-washing technique as defined here by the CDC. Make sure that every visitor to your home washes their hands upon entering, before holding babe, and after sneezing, coughing, eating, etc., but of course, after using the restroom. And hey, if anyone gives you any push-back, then very politely tell them, “you absolutely have to wash your hands if you would like to interact with LO,” and don’t budge on it. If you’re on the go, or you’re dealing with a well-known inadequate hand washer, keep 60%+ alcohol based hand sanitizer with you, and offer everyone a big pump before holding your little one!
I know this is a touchy one for some folks, but despite differing beliefs, we all do know now that masks are pretty helpful at preventing the spread of illness when used correctly. Requesting that visitors wear a mask while holding LO is a great way to create an additional barrier between grown-up germs and your baby's budding immune system.
No Ill Guests
This is a no-brainer, but some guests may need a stern reminder. It's in your best interest to politely but firmly request that guests DO NOT come to visit your baby if they are ill, have been in recent contact with anyone ill, or are feeling under the weather in any way. Trust me, you'll hear it all.
"It's just a sinus infection."
"...but it's not Covid.”
You will get lots of grumbles when you turn your sick loved ones away, however, it is not worth the risk involved with giving in to their excuses. Kindly wish them a speedy recovery, and ask them to reschedule their visit long enough out for their symptoms to clear up.
I come from a large extended family. Hell, I come from a large immediate family. Seriously, there’s 14 of us on my maternal side alone! To say I understand the pressure to open up shop and make LO available to visitors almost immediately would be an understatement. It’s hard to say no, because everyone’s so excited, and none of us want to hurt feelings or make our loved ones feel unwelcome or pushed out of this joyous time. With that, comes the difficult job of possibly limiting visitors for at least the first 3 months. Video calls are a lifesaver! So what your 3rd cousin's, god-sister's friend of a friend from church didn't get to meet your newborn... I think they will be OK.
Shine Your Spine!
The final step I recommend in protecting your littles this sick season is to "Shine Your Spine" as they say! What exactly does it mean? Well it’s a figure of speech coined by the JustNo (Reddit.com) community used as a way to encourage people to toughen up, strengthen that backbone, and stand up for yourself. The boundaries we put in place as parents are sure to subject us to a plethora of grunts, groans, bitching, and moans. No matter the backlash from those around us, the health and wellness of our vulnerable little ones are and should remain our first priority and greatest responsibility. Our babes are counting on us to protect them while they cannot protect themselves, and at times that will require a lot of gumption and a bit of good, old fashioned, “Hard Ass-ness.”