Germs have never been such a worry until the day you're taking a newborn out into public for the first time. You want the whole world to know that your baby has arrived, but she's best shared through photos in the early days. Eventually you'll need to come out of the cocoon of home and introduce your little one to the big, bad world, and when you do, you'll keep her safe.
Your pediatrician is the best source for advice on taking your baby out, but other newborn and parenting experts who weigh in on the subject generally agree that shielding your newborn from crowds is wise at first. KidsHealth.org cautions new parents that some pediatricians advise keeping a newborn away from crowds for the first few months of her life, and at AskDrSears.com, pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears makes a similar recommendation. Your newborn's immune system is weak, so she's susceptible to illness and infections caused by other people's germs. Keeping her away from busy public places doesn't mean keeping her locked inside, though. When the weather is mild and you've taken proper precautions, she can accompany you on a walk or a relaxing picnic in a quiet section of a local park.
Situations to Avoid
Anywhere where people gather, potentially dangerous germs do too, but some places are more rife with germs than others. Ideally you won't fly with your newborn. (If flying is unavoidable, be reassured that according to MayoClinic.com, your baby's age doesn't necessarily affect her ability to handle a flight.) A newborn should also be shielded from anyone who is or has recently been sick. Keep her away from children's birthday parties or an older child's preschool class, since at least one little one is bound to have the sniffles. Malls, churches and grocery stores are all best avoided if possible when you have a newborn in your arms.
Protecting a Newborn
When your baby is a few months old and ready to face crowds, germs can still harm her, but being vigilant might help you protect your baby from illness. Schedule trips for times when crowds are smallest. Take a late-night trip to the grocery store, or pick the least popular church service and sit in the back corner. A sweet newborn is bound to attract attention from well-meaning strangers, but when people start getting close, let your parenting instincts overpower your desire to be polite. If someone starts reaching into the stroller to touch your baby or just gets closer than you'd like, say something like, "Sorry, the doctor says no one but immediate family should get too close. We need her admirers to keep a few feet back to make sure she stays healthy."
Taking her for a stroll around the neighborhood on a pleasant day is beneficial for your mental health and doesn't have to be dangerous for her -- as long as she's dressed appropriately. In hot weather, dress her in lightweight clothing that covers her skin along with a brimmed hat and push her in an umbrella stroller. In cooler weather, dress her in several layers of light clothing and add a warm hat and gloves. Keep her inside during rain or chilly weather. You can still pick up germs when you're out that could be passed on to the baby. Keep hand sanitizer in your pocket, and take extra precautions when you touch dirty items outdoors; for instance, when you're walking the dog and the newborn, carry disposable gloves that you can don and then toss when you scoop the dog's waste. Routinely clean the handles of your stroller.
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