Here's When It's Actually Safe For Visitors To Meet Your Newborn
Here's how to keep your baby (and everyone) happy and healthy during those delicious newborn baby visits.
After what has felt like an absolute eternity to everyone else (and probably you, too), you’ve finally welcomed your newborn baby. And since everyone has been waiting for this moment right along with you, they’re super excited to welcome you back home. Everyone has been chomping at the bit to see your baby. But when can visitors see your newborn? It’s not as soon as you might think.
Those squishy little bodies. Those super small onesies. And OMG, that heavenly newborn baby smell. Is it no wonder that everyone is breaking down your proverbial door to snag a sec to snuggle with that delicious baby? Even if friends, family, and neighbors are all vying to be the first to love on your newborn, you’re going to have to hold them off for a while, Dr. William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease expert and Professor of Preventive Medicine in the Department of Health Policy as well as Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, tells Romper. “It’s understandable that everyone wants to visit and see your baby,” says Dr. Schaffner. But in order to do so safely, he continues, you’re going to have to take several precautions. Here they are:
Here’s When Visitors Can See Your Newborn
It can be hard to keep family and friends away who are clamoring to cuddle your baby. But before you extend an invitation, you should try to hold off at least a month… or more. “Ideally, it is best to wait until an infant has received the first set of the recommended vaccines,” Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician tells Romper. “Except for the hepatitis B vaccine, these are administered at the two-month-old well visit and include the Hib, Prevnar, DtaP, IPV, hepatitis B, and rotavirus vaccines.” This time frame might not work for some families, particularly if you have parents who are helping to take care of the baby. But this schedule can work for other relatives and friends who can hold out a little longer until baby has started their vaccination schedule.
Why It’s Not Safe For Visitors To See A Newborn Sooner
Forget about the common cold. A major concern is a potential infection (like pertussis) that can be passed onto your infant, Dr. Schaffner explains. “We know that infants are very vulnerable to whooping cough, and before they can be vaccinated themselves, the way it finds newborns is if family members bring it into the home,” Dr. Schaffner explains. “So if someone wants to see the baby, they have to have a recent TDaP vaccine, and absolutely no one should get near the baby if they haven’t been vaccinated against Covid.” Dr. Alexander adds: “Very serious infections such as sepsis or meningitis are possible during the first few months of life. It would be best for visitors to wait until the baby is at least two months old.”
Is It Safer For Visitors To See The Baby Outside Or Inside?
If Covid has taught us anything, according to Dr. Schaffner, it’s that outdoor gatherings (when possible) are somewhat safer than indoor meetings, where everyone might be breathing in the same stale, stagnant air. “Being outside has a much lower risk than being inside,” says Dr. Schaffner. “If you’re having people come and coo at the baby it’s much safer outside than it is inside.” Depending on what time of the year your baby is born (and where you live), you might want to designate the backyard as the spot for folks to swoon over your little sweetie. Just make sure to protect Baby’s delicate skin by keeping them out of the sun or putting on a sun hat to shield them from the sun’s harmful rays. “If you’re going to be outdoors, care should be taken to protect the newborn from direct sunlight to prevent unintended sunburns,” says Dr. Alexander.
These Are The Precautions That Visitors Should Take To See Your Baby
Listen, as the momma to a newborn, you have every right to demand (that’s right, demand) that those who visit your baby are in good health. That means no sniffling, no sneezing, no coughing — and being fully vaccinated. “Anyone who plans to visit a newborn should be immunized against pertussis, and, when in season, influenza,” advises Dr. Alexander. “Both illnesses can be life-threatening for infants.”
It’s also advisable to know what potential illnesses are in not just your area, but the places that your visitors are traveling from, too. “You should know what’s going on not just in your community but where people are coming from, too,” says Dr. Schaffner. “For example, if there were a spike in influenza cases where a family member is traveling from, you can find out if they’ve had their flu shot or have been feeling ill.” The same holds true for vaccination against Covid-19, since infants can also contract the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.
“You should do your own symptom screening to ensure that everyone who plans to visit the baby feels well,” says Dr. Schaffner. “And anyone who wants to get close has to wear a mask.” Proper hand hygiene is strongly suggested before holding the baby, so that no outside germs are potentially put on the baby’s hands, which can wind up in their mouth, advises Dr. Alexander.
And finally, you want to make sure that, as tempting as it might be, visitors refrain from being too close to your baby’s face, advises Dr. Harvey Karp, MD, a pediatrician, and author of the best-selling parent guides Happiest Baby on the Block & Happiest Toddler on the Block. “There should be no kissing on the face or hands,” says Dr. Karp. “If Grandma wants to kiss, direct her to the delicious little toes instead.” Dr. Karp also advises having a stack of oversized tee shirts that guests can wear over their own clothing to hold the baby. “Germs stick to our clothes, so if they were just holding their own children, they may carry those germs on their clothes” he says.
Here’s How Long Visitors Should Stay To See Your Newborn
While there’s no hard and fast rule on how long your Grandma Suzie should stay at your home to see the baby, you should try to keep visits short and sweet. “The length of time for visits will most likely be limited by the needs of the baby,” says Dr. Alexander. “Most newborns feed every two to three hours, followed by a nap.” So visits should not interfere with this routine to ensure that the baby has sufficient time for both.
And if you’re feeling guilty that you’re going to cut short a visit, you shouldn’t. “Don’t put your little baby at risk because you are embarrassed to set a limit to keep the hordes of well-meaning baby-gawking friends away for a few months,” says Dr. Karp.
Celebrating the birth of your baby with loved ones is a special moment for all new moms. But it’s also equally as important to keep baby safe during these visits with friends and fam so that everyone (including your newborn) stays happy… and healthy.
Dr. William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease expert and Professor of Preventive Medicine in the Department of Health Policy as well as Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN
Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician
Dr. Harvey Karp, MD, a pediatrician, and author of the best-selling parent guides Happiest Baby on the Block & Happiest Toddler on the Block