Thanks to Christa from Michigan for this excellent question!
A: No doubt family and friends are excited to meet your gorgeous baby!
Deciding on when to introduce family members to your newborn baby is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong answer. Let’s talk about some things to consider when making your decision.
Every family is different, and there might be good reasons you would like to introduce folks to your newest family member. Some parents may need emotional or caregiver support, there may be religious ceremonies that take place, or family bonding is a key part of your values. Whatever is right for you is ok. It is important to decide which introductions are critical at an early age and then to take steps to make the meeting as safe as possible for everyone involved.
It is possible for babies to both get and give COVID-19. However, infections in newborns are very rare and if a kiddo does get infected, the majority have no symptoms or only mild disease. Less than 2% of all COVID-19 cases in the US are in children under the age of 4. Babies with medical problems, like being born prematurely or with medical conditions, might be at higher risk. Friends and family members might also be at higher risk, such as older adults and people with chronic medical problems. Safety steps protect everyone, not just the baby! Make sure everyone is comfortable with the meeting plan before your move forward.
There are many ways for friends and family to meet your kiddo. You may want to try video chats or social media to stay in touch and share milestones, updates, trials and successes! Sometimes, though, you might feel the need to meet face to face. Fortunately, #SMART is still the way to go!
– Space: Try to stay 6 feet away from people outside the household when possible.
– Mask: Everyone should be masked up, especially when holding the baby!
– Air: If weather permits, meet outside in the fresh air! If not possible, try to arrange the meeting somewhere with good ventilation.
– Restrict: Carefully choose who should meet the kiddo and keep the number for each meeting small.
– Time: Keep it short and limit the time you spend with folks outside your household. Short visits are a gift to the new parents anyway. Don’t forget, they are probably exhausted too!
Other things you might want to keep in mind:
– Babies who are born early (premature or preterm babies) or have medical problems are at higher risk of developing severe disease if they catch COVID-19. Consider waiting to introduce these children to friends and family.
– Always keep the baby away from individuals who are sick.
– Never put a mask on a baby.
– Have everyone wash their hands before touching the baby.
– Keep your baby’s vaccines up to date.
– All friends and family who will be around the baby should get the flu shot. Babies under the age of 6 months are too young for the flu shot.
– Follow up with your child’s primary care physician. They can give you additional guidance that looks at the needs of your family and the health of your little one.
No joke, parenting is tough. Finding the balance between sharing your joy with family and friends and protecting your kiddo is not easy. Don’t feel pressured one way or the other. Take your time and make the decision that is right for you.
Having a new baby is hard even when we aren’t in a pandemic! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has tips on coping with a new baby during COVID-19.
Though not specifically about newborns, the AAP has good resources on COVID-19 and kids.