Knowing when to introduce your baby to the world can be tricky, especially for first-time parents. You worry about their immune systems and if they will be able to fight off common germs. You also worry about strangers putting unwashed hands on your baby. These are all valid concerns, but doctors say that ultimately it is up to you to decide when it is time to take your newborn out in public.
First, it is important to distinguish between taking your baby outside and taking them “out in public.” If mom and baby are ready to take a walk outside in nice weather, that is encouraged, according to John Hopkins Medicine. Just make sure that your newborn is dressed appropriately for the weather. Also, be sure you (mom) are physically able to be up and walking. If you have questions about your postpartum recovery, contact your doctor.
“I recommend that the family go for walks in their neighborhood or parks when they are feeling ready to get out and about,” said Tanya Banks, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Gainesville Pediatric Associates. “The goal is to keep everyone healthy.”
On the flip side, going “out in public” is very different from taking a walk outside. Being in public implies that you will be seeing other people or coming into contact with objects that other families have touched. This includes going to a crowded park, grocery store, the mall, a restaurant and the like. In this case, some doctors encourage parents to wait a few months or at least until the baby is current with their vaccines, according to John Hopkins Medicine.
“I do advise parents to avoid public places until after two months of age,” Banks said. “Their immune systems are still developing. If an infant less than two months old develops a fever, which is a temperature [greater than] 100.4, they may be advised by their pediatric provider to proceed to the ED [Emergency Department] for evaluation.”
When your baby is ready to go out in public, Banks also suggests wearing your infant in a sling/carrier or covering the infant’s car seat with a lightweight blanket to avoid strangers approaching your infant.
If you are taking your new baby to meet close family members and friends, it is important that they are up to date on their vaccines at least two weeks before meeting the baby, especially whooping cough and the flu shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). COVID-19 can also pose a threat to newborns and their families. It is best to keep your newborn out of contact with anyone who has COVID-19 or symptoms of the virus. Also, the CDC recommends those five years and older get the COVID vaccine to protect those who can’t get vaccinated, like newborns.
Extra Precautions: If you are taking your newborn to meet new people, make sure those touching your infant have washed their hands and do not have flu-like symptoms. As a parent, it is your right to deny people the opportunity to touch or get close to your baby. You should not feel pressure to allow strangers to meet your newborn if it does not feel right to you.