Ask a Pediatrician: Is It OK for Visitors to Come Over and Hold My Newborn?

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Experts agree, play is an integral component to a child’s development, as it builds important social and emotional skills. We’ve partnered with SC Johnson on our “Ask a Pediatrician” series to ensure families can say ‘YES to play’ with the new FamilyGuard™ Brand—a lineup of disinfectant products created to help protect families against germs by disinfecting the hard, non-porous surfaces that loved ones touch the most. Visit their website for more tips, tricks and ways to celebrate family time.

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As your due date approaches, you, your family and friends are likely getting more and more excited to meet your newborn. As they should! That being said, newborns have fragile immune systems and exposure to germs can pose health risks, so safety needs to be the top priority.

Generally, it is advisable to wait about four weeks before allowing visitors, giving you and your baby time to adjust to the new routine and build some immunity. It may not be possible or desirable to limit visitors completely (hello, grandparents), but keep the invite list small. Every familys circumstance and comfort levels vary, so its important to discuss this with your pediatrician and establish guidelines that align with your familys needs and specific health concerns.

A Few Things to Consider

Once you and your baby feel ready to receive visitors (and that may happen before four weeks—that’s OK too!), there are some factors that are important to consider:

  • Visitors’ health status: Check that potential visitors are in good health and free from contagious illnesses. Its particularly important during flu or cold seasons to be cautious about exposure to sick individuals—for you and your newborn.
  • Vaccination status: Ask if visitors have been vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases like pertussis (whooping cough), influenza, and COVID-19. Encourage (or require) vaccinations for anyone who will be in close contact with your baby.
  • Hygiene practices: Request that all visitors practice good hand hygiene by washing their hands thoroughly before holding the baby. You can also ask them to wear a mask, especially if they have any symptoms of illness.
  • Limited contact: Limit the number of visitors at any given time to reduce the risk of infection and to ensure that you and your baby are not overwhelmed. Shorter, more frequent visits may be less taxing for everyone. Also, set some boundaries for the type of interactions you want people to have with your baby; for instance, it is not advisable to kiss or snuggle the baby on the face due to the risk of infection. Think about your own comfort level with other people holding your baby and communicate boundaries boldly and clearly.
  • Babys schedule: Babies have unpredictable sleep and feeding schedules. Make it clear to visitors that you will need to prioritize your baby's needs, and they should be understanding if you need to cut visits short or reschedule.
  • Stress levels: Consider your own well-being and stress levels. If having visitors adds stress to an already demanding period, its perfectly acceptable to delay or limit visits until you feel more settled.

Remember that you are your babys primary advocate, and its essential to prioritize their health and well-being during this precious time. Dont hesitate to politely assert your needs and boundaries to ensure a positive and safe experience for both you and your newborn.

Learn to Say “No”

It’s understandable to feel uncomfortable saying “no,” but this may be necessary and absolutely normal to do in some cases. Here are some tips and examples for politely declining or adjusting visits:

  • Express your appreciation: “Thank you so much for wanting to meet our little one!”
  • Explain your reasoning: “We’re trying to establish a routine for our baby right now, and it’s important for us to have some quiet time together.” Remember, it’s all about your family’s comfort and preferences. Create boundaries by using lots of “I” and “we” language to help people understand that it’s not about them.
  • Emphasize health and safety: “We want to make sure our baby is protected during these early weeks when their immune system is still developing.” It’s difficult to argue with this one!
  • Suggest alternatives: Offer alternatives to in-person visits to show that you value their connection. Suggest options like sharing photos, arranging a virtual visit, or planning a future get-together when you’re more settled.
  • Blame it on the doctor: “Our doctor has advised us to limit visitors for a little while to ensure our baby’s health.”
  • Be firm but polite: “We hope you understand that this is what’s best for our family right now.”
  • Stay consistent: Once you've made a decision, try to stay consistent in your approach with all potential visitors to avoid any misunderstandings.

Remember that your baby’s well-being and your comfort are top priorities during this time. Most people will understand and respect your decision, especially when it's made with the best interests of your child in mind.

Dr. Christina Johns is a pediatrician + Senior Medical Advisor at PM Pediatric Care, the largest pediatric urgent care group in the U.S.

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Dr. Christina Johns is a pediatrician + Senior Medical Advisor at PM Pediatric Care, the largest pediatric urgent care group in the U.S. She received her undergraduate degree at...