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Should Newborns Be Around Kids With Colds?

by Maggie McCormick, studioD

Everyone wants to see your newborn, but you want to keep him healthy. Because your newborn's immune system is not very strong yet, it's a good idea to avoid contact with anyone who is visibly ill whenever possible, and if your child was born premature or has an illness that compromises the immune system, you'll want to take extra precautions. While a cold in a young baby will make the baby -- and everyone around her -- pretty miserable, colds aren't serious illnesses, even in babies. Please note, however, that a fever (more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in a baby under four weeks old is an emergency and you should seek immediate medical care.

How to Avoid the Common Cold

Colds are viruses, and viruses are spread through close contact. An adult with a cold will probably be aware enough to stay away from the baby or take proper precautions if she has to come close. A child, on the other hand, may not understand that his cold can get the baby sick too. Even if he washes his hands before getting close to the baby, there's a chance that a sneeze or cough could take him by surprise and he won't be able to turn away quickly enough.

When You Can't Avoid it

According to KidsHealth, most children catch around eight colds per year, so it's virtually impossible to shield your newborn from everyone who's sick. Perhaps your older child caught something from her preschool or there's a family holiday gathering at which you're expected to show up. Unless you personally feel strongly about not bringing your baby around, you can make an appearance. To be on the safe side, plan to spend most of the time being the person who holds the baby, and ask those who do want to hold her to wash their hands before handing her over.

General Precautions

Even if it's only the older child who is sick, there will be germs throughout the house. The sick child might drink from others' glasses or use a hand to wipe her nose, thereby potentially spreading the virus on the next thing she touches. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should ask people to wash their hands before holding your baby. Even if no one seems to be sick, this is a good practice. You can also instruct the sick child not to hold or touch the baby while she has a cold.


If you're breastfeeding your newborn, you may have less to worry about, according to AskDrSears.com. The site states that breastfed babies have a healthier immune system and get fewer colds than children who are formula fed. Furthermore, the mother's body creates specific antibodies for the germs that she and her baby have been exposed to, and these antibodies get passed through to the baby in the breast milk.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

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