Inside: Encourage handwashing with a new baby in the house and find tips to protect your newborn from seasonal viruses like RSV.
Are you one of those moms who always ask family and friends to wash their hands before holding your infant baby?
Props to you mama! I was the same way with my little ones those first few months of life. I knew how susceptible my newborns were to catch the slightest of colds and sickness. (I used these as an extra preventative measure for wondering hands!)
So I’m here to tell you there’s nothing better you could be doing to help prevent germs from spreading and protect baby from RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), especially during the dreaded cold winter months.
This is part of a sponsored collaboration with MedImmune. However, all opinions expressed are my own.
What is RSV
RSV is a common seasonal virus, that can cause mild to moderate cold-like symptoms in healthy full-term babies. It is an illness that is contracted by almost ALL children by the age of two.
However, this virus is so serious as the leading cause of hospitalization for babies during their first year of life in the US. With an estimated 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 200 infant deaths each year. And for preemies this statistic is much worse – they are twice as likely to be admitted to the hospital for RSV-related symptoms.
RSV is also most prevalent during the winter months when cold-symptoms abound, November through March.
Some of the major symptoms include:
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
- Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
- Fever (especially if it is over 100.4°F)
How to Protect Your Baby from RSV
RSV is extremely contagious and is spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. It can also live on surfaces for several hours. Sadly, there is no treatment for the virus making prevention of utmost importance. The most important step new parents can take to minimize the spread of RSV is:
- Wash hands and ask others to do the same
- Keep toys, clothes, blanket and sheets clean
- Avoid crowds and other young children during RSV season
- Never let anyone smoke around your baby
In addition, anyone who is sick (or sick and recovering) should stay away from the baby!
You should never feel uncomfortable asking friends and family of all ages to wash their hands when handling your baby. In fact, a little encouragement may be needed considering that a staggering 33% of mothers are unaware of RSV!
What can new moms do to encourage hand-washing?
If you’re feeling anxious about hand washing around your baby, simply start with little facts. Remind your family and visitors that you aren’t just being a germophobic, but actually following recommended guidelines to keep your newborn baby safe. Baby’s immune systems are not fully developed at birth, making it harder for them to fight off infections were they contract something serious.
That’s reason enough to wash hands as a precaution.
Make it a house-rule.
Another easy way to encourage guests to wash hands before handling your baby is to just ask them. Make it a house-rule if you have to, so that they know the deal before they even arrive. You can get a little sign for baby’s nursery where you write cute (and important messages) to reinforce the rule.
When asking gets awkward, you can make light of the situation with a funny (but serious) message. Try any of these clever ways to get visitors to wash hands, they can’t ignore:
- “No Germs on Board” sign for car seat/baby carrier
- Wash your hands – tags and signs for stroller
- “I’m cute, but please don’t touch me” car seat cover
- (Note: When using any covers please make sure baby isn’t fully covered/air is circulating)
Remember it’s your baby
Lastly, you should always remember that “your child means your rules”. You should never feel ashamed for asking guests to do what you believe is best by simply washing their hands.
If someone reaches for baby when the purell isn’t in sight, gently remind them to first wash hands. More than likely they will oblige. And if not, it’s “time for mom to nurse baby” always works wonders ;)!
To learn more about this serious disease please talk to your pediatrician and click HERE. You can also print out the below infographic and share with friends on social media to help spread the word to other new parents!
Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.