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Get Out! Keeping a Newborn Healthy Doesn't Mean Becoming a Hermit

Germs! Whether you’re a germaphobe or someone who thinks the three-second rule is short by 20 minutes, we all know that it is important to keep newborns protected from illness for at least the first few months of life.

Within the first month, if a baby gets a fever for any reason, she automatically gets sent to the ER, receives a spinal tap, a urinary catheter and blood tests and then is admitted into the hospital for at least 48 hours. So it’s best to avoid Uncle Coughs-a-Lot and the curious toddler cousins until at least two months, after baby has received her first round of vaccines.

As bad as a fever is for baby, cabin fever is no good for mom. So while I don’t advise taking your newborn to an indoor holiday party with 50 of your not-so-closest friends, I do recommend using that gleaming new stroller or baby sling you recently unwrapped and going for a walk. We pay good money to live in good weather, get out and enjoy it. It’s good for your mental health and your physical wellbeing.

Company is also important to your mental health during these early shell-shocked days of parenthood. But I advise keeping the guest list small and be strict about handwashing before anybody touches your baby.

For the jet-setting baby, I’d keep a newborn off a plane until she’s at least had her first round of vaccines (waiting until she’s completed her full round of early childhood vaccines at 6 months is even better). Once baby is on the plane, remember that everything is dirty. Everything.

The tray table, the armrest the TV touchscreen. Everything you touch gets on your skin, which you then transfer to baby. Take along some sanitizer wipes and work your seat like it’s your job.

Your other job is to champion vaccines for any adults who will be in regular contact with baby. Family members, caregivers and parents themselves should get vaccinated against whooping cough two to four weeks before snuggling your newborn. That’s because vaccines take about two to four weeks to be effective.

If a relative balks, designate another trusted family member or friend to advocate for this. Baby can’t tell Cousin Germy that he is putting her in danger of a two-day hospital stay and a lot of pain and unpleasantness. But you can.

And if that fails, it just might be time to take that walk I was talking about.

Meet the Author

Julie (Omid) Palmisano, MD, FAAP

Specialty: Pediatrics

Dr. Omid-Palmisano earned her medical degree from Chicago Medical School in 2004 and completed pediatric residency training at UC San Diego three years later. Her professional experience includes positions at Washington University and UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. View Bio [+]