Updated November 24, 2020
Congratulations on your new baby! Most new parents have many questions about their newborns. These days, however, you may have questions about keeping your baby safe. Here are answers to some concerns new parents have about caring for a newborn during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Keeping physical distance between your newborn and others
COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly:
- From person-to-person
- Between people who are in close contact with one another, within about 6 feet.
- The contact should last for at least 15 minutes within a 24-hour period. This means at least 15 consecutive minutes in one day or 15 minutes divided throughout the day.
It’s important to remember that people who are infected but do not show symptoms can spread the virus to others.
Visitors. While family and friends have been eagerly waiting to meet your little one, they need to wait a little longer to protect you and your baby from the virus. Some visits are riskier for you and your baby than other types of visits. Meeting someone outside while you both wear masks and stay 6 to 10 feet apart is believed to be low risk. But, eating with someone indoors whether at a restaurant or in a home can carry a very high risk of passing on the virus. This can be disappointing for everyone, but there are things you can do:
- Make video calls to introduce your baby to the world.
- Show off your baby in front of a glass window for germ-free, social distant “visiting hours.”
- Take photos and videos of your baby and share them with friends and family through email, texting or social media.
- Print and mail birth announcement cards to friends and family.
Getting help. You may have planned to have grandparents, family members or other people you trust in your home to help you with your baby’s arrival. Now that you must limit physical contact between your baby and others, you can find other ways to get help. Helpers can go shopping for you, run errands and prepare meals that they leave on your doorstep. If friends ask how they can help you, don’t be shy to make suggestions!
Visiting your baby’s health care provider
Even when everything is going well, your baby needs regular medical checkups (also called well-baby visits) to keep him healthy. During well-baby visits, your baby’s provider checks your baby’s overall health, growth and development. Your baby also gets vaccinations to help protect her from harmful infections.
Office visits or telehealth visits?
Even during the COVID-19 crisis, your baby’s first medical checkup is still very important and if possible, it should be an in-office visit. Call your baby’s health care provider to confirm it’s ok to take your newborn to his or her office and ask if there are rules you need to follow. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your baby’s provider may:
- Only do well-baby visits for newborns and for those babies and children who require vaccinations
- Reschedule other well visits to a later date
- Have only well visits in the morning and sick visits for later in the day
- Have specific rooms for well visits and separate rooms for sick visits
Vaccinations help protect your baby from harmful diseases. It’s always best to keep your baby’s vaccines up-to-date. Your provider can weigh the risks and benefits of bringing your newborn to his office to get vaccinated. Ask your provider how you can minimize the risk of exposing your newborn to infections like COVID-19 when leaving your home.
Is my baby sick?
You may be watching your baby to make sure he’s healthy. One thing to keep in mind is that newborns breathe much faster than adults. This is normal. If your baby feels warm, make sure he’s not bundled up too much. Dress your baby in light sleep clothes. However, if you are concerned that your baby may be sick, call her provider right away.
Your other children and the new baby
If you have other children, staying at home can be hard for you and for them. Find ways to include them in welcoming the new baby, such as:
- Reading or telling stories to the baby
- Drawing a picture every week to show how the baby has changed. The pictures can be made into a baby book.
- Writing a weekly “baby update” that you can share electronically with family and friends
Life with a newborn brings many changes and can be stressful, especially now. Getting a nap, taking a “me break” or getting outdoors can make you feel better.
Stay connected to loved ones during this time via phone, group texts, video chats and social media. Consider joining an online moms’ group. Share your struggles and joys with others. Even though they are not with you in person, they can still support you and stay up-to-date with you and your baby.
If you have intense feeling of sadness or worry that lasts more than two weeks, your provider may want to check you for postpartum depression (also called PPD). PPD is a medical condition that many women get after having a baby. It needs treatment to get better.
If you’re not sure what to do to keep your baby safe, reach out to your health care provider for help. And remember, you’re not alone.