December 7, 2017

Germs are rampant and so are the kisses. Here’s how to keep your newborn protected during holiday visiting.


I remember being really excited when I found out my due date was right around Thanksgiving. It was exciting that family would already be around and ready to greet my little baby boy, Theo. Once Theo arrived, and my protective motherly instincts kicked in, I started to worry how I was going to keep him healthy through the holidays with cold and flu season in full force. How would we handle all the events with family and friends who would be eager to hold and kiss on our new addition?

I didn’t want to go over the top and ask that everyone bathe in hand sanitizer before they held him or, worse, hibernate through the holidays to avoid germs. I was ready to show off my beautiful new baby and was excited to celebrate the holidays.

Newborns are at higher risk for more serious complications from illness due to their immature immune systems. Luckily, armed with advice from our pediatrician and my newly honed motherly instincts, we got the baby through the holiday season illness-free.

New parents can help prevent illness by following these tips to help keep their babies healthy and to limit exposure to potentially dangerous illnesses. It worked for me.

Get vaccinated: Surround your newborn with protection.

Children who are younger than six months are too young to get some vaccinations, yet they are the most at risk for having serious complications from illness. Parents, family, friends and caretakers should all get vaccinated against the flu and whooping cough to create a barrier of protection around new babies.

Before Theo was born I asked that all my family and friends who would be in contact with him get vaccinated. That meant making sure they were up to date with their whooping cough vaccines and had their flu shots. I got my flu shot while I was still pregnant, which helped protect Theo against the flu for months after birth.

Breastfeed: Beef up your newborn’s immune system.

If you can breastfeed, it’s a great way to naturally protect your newborn from many common illnesses.  Mother’s breast milk is custom-made to fight the diseases their babies are exposed to, giving your baby some defense from illness as the immune system is still developing.

I remember getting a terrible cold just before New Year’s Eve and being terrified that Theo would catch it. I’m convinced that Theo didn’t catch what I had because he was getting the antibodies that my body was creating to fight the cold through my breast milk.

Hand washing: Prevent germs from spreading.

Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of disease.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Ask visitors to wash their hands before holding your new baby. People can show no signs of illness and still be contagious or carrying germs that could be harmful to a newborn baby.

Use extra precaution in public places: It’s a germy world out there.

People will offer differing advice about taking your newborn baby out in public especially in the first view weeks. I was happy when our pediatrician encouraged us to get out and about, even prescribing a daily dose of sunshine for vitamin D.  Use good judgment and limit public outings when possible, especially places that will be overly crowded.

I quickly found out that people, including strangers, could not help themselves from getting a close look or even touching my new baby. If you want to avoid strangers getting too close for comfort when you out in public, you can cover your infant carrier with a blanket. This will help discourage well-meaning strangers from touching newborns and unknowingly spread germs.

In addition everyone should be encouraged to wash hands well when returning from a public place to avoid spreading illness and bringing germs into the home.

Learn to say no: Know your limits.

I think this tip maybe the most important one of all. I found that having a newborn during the holiday season was extra challenging. Not only are you learning to care for your new baby, but you have all of these extra holiday expectations like buying presents, attending events, visitors, holiday dinners and baking.

In order to keep your baby healthy, you need to keep yourself healthy. That means getting rest when you can and knowing your limits. Learning when to say no is going to be the best thing for you and your baby. I assure you, everyone will understand if you don’t bake your award-winning apple pie this year.

Remember, don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it.

You’re a new mom, which is a lot like being Superwoman, but I don’t think Superwoman catches colds. That goes for dads, too.

This post was written by Ashley Culvera wife and mom of two young children. In her spare time, she enjoys running and writing songs on her upright piano and acoustic guitar.