New babies born in the family is a time of joy and celebration and makes the holiday season all the sweeter. You probably have lots of friends and family who want to meet the little one, and there’s no doubt a part of you that can’t wait to show him or her off. But germs are real and seem to be even more rampant during cold weather. Maybe because everyone is spending more time indoors, circulating the same stale air! So whether you’re traveling to family winter vacation destinations in germ-y airports or simply staying home, taking precautions to keep your baby healthy through the holidays is essential.
Most of your friends and family probably can’t wait to hold, cuddle, and kiss the newborn. That means it falls on you to set boundaries and limits on what kind of contact you are comfortable exposing your baby to so that you can protect your infant’s health and well-being. Here's how to keep a newborn healthy.
Get on the Same Page with Your Partner
We can’t stress how important it is to be on the same page with your partner when making parenting decisions—any parenting decisions! Especially when your baby is an infant and you have grandparents and in-laws that have certain expectations that you or your partner feel “obligated” to meet.
The truth is, you’re not obligated to meet anyone’s expectations other than your own, especially when it comes to your child’s health. So decide the ground rules ahead of time when gathering with family, who can hold the infant and who can’t, and what the rules for basic newborn care are before doing so. You are perfectly within your rights as parents to tell family and friends alike to wash their hands before touching your infant or to keep their space and not get in the infant's face. The baby’s immune system is still developing and a common cold could be detrimental to the newborn infant’s health and well-being.
If you receive pushback, just gently and firmly stand your ground and know it is negating the risk of your infant contracting an unwanted illness. Mature adults will understand and respect your boundaries whereas young children and immature adults might have some pushback. Remember, their feelings are not your responsibility; your child’s health is.
Breastfeed if Possible
Newborns thrive on their mother’s milk, especially if it’s thick, nutritious, and in ample supply. There’s nothing better that helps to protect your baby from illness as their immune system continues to develop.
Your baby receives antibodies through your breastmilk that helps them fight off germs and bugs they would otherwise be vulnerable to. Of course, if you can’t breastfeed for whatever reason, don’t fret. Staying healthy during the holidays is still doable, you may just have to take extra precautions with infant formula and in what you expose your little one to until their immune system is up to snuff all on its own.
Make Hand Washing Your Religion
Of course, making your family and friends wash their hands is protocol, but you also need to hold yourself and your partner accountable to this practice of basic newborn care, too. Washing your hands regularly is probably one of the single most effective ways of care to help prevent the spread of germs you can engage in.
Require all friends and family in desperate desire for some swaddling to wash their hands before they hold them. And if you have other young children around, make them wash their hands double! You can use good old soap and warm water, or if you don’t have that readily available, keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your diaper bag or a small backpack and make everyone use it. Equip yourself with all of the supplies to keep your infant healthy with JuJuBe bags.
When in Doubt—Wear Your Baby
There’s nothing that says, “Hands off!” to the people around you quite like wearing your baby on your body, in baby slings or wraps. People don’t seem concerned about peering into your baby’s carrier to touch or kiss your newborn infant. However, most will think twice about making unwanted contact if you are swaddling your baby and he/she is snuggled close to your chest.
It might seem a little ‘mama bear’, but sometimes that’s what has to happen to protect your little one. Staying healthy during the holidays is tough even for seasoned adults with strong immune systems. Newborn babies need every line of defense they can get, and it’s up to you as parents to provide them with basic newborn care, even if those boundaries earn you some side looks from others. When they have their own newborn, they can make their own rules! Until then, mama bear on!
There’s no formula on how to stay healthy during the holidays;not for adults and certainly not for newborns. We all just do the best we can and that’s all you can do as a new parent celebrating your first holiday with a baby, too. Discuss with your partner your boundaries and expectations and agree to present a unified front to loved ones. Though it’s fun to show off the new addition (and you should if that pleases you), keeping your newborn healthy is priority number one. Still, make sure to enjoy toddler winter activities with the whole family and focus on the holiday spirit!