A newborn’s immune system is particularly vulnerable during the first six weeks of life, and illnesses can be very serious in young babies. You don’t need to hide away, though — just take some common-sense precautions:
- Commit to breastfeeding as long as you can. This boosts your baby’s immune system.
- Keep clean soap and towels in your bathroom and tissues nearby as you pass the baby around to friends, neighbors and family members. Don’t hand your baby over to anyone who’s coughing, sniffling, or sneezing.
- Avoid traveling on planes, trains or buses for the first 6-12 weeks if at all possible. If you must travel, keep your hands washed or sanitized, or consider wearing gloves that you take off only to handle the baby, 1950’s nanny style. Make sure you have your pediatrician’s number stored in your phone, and when you get to your destination, also store the number and location of the closest pediatric emergency services.
- Guard your young baby from kootchie-coo strangers. (Try this line: “I’m sorry, she has a cold and I don’t want you to catch it!”)
Fevers, feeding problems, and dehydration can be life-threatening emergencies for a newborn, so always seek medical attention right away if your baby has a fever or wets fewer than four diapers in a 24-hour period.