- Matt Thompson is a pediatrician at Spokane's Kids Clinic.
When is it safe to take the most beautiful newborn ever out of the house? This is one of those questions for which no one answer will suffice. There are numerous variables to consider: the age of the child; the time of year; the presence of risk factors specific to the given infant such as prematurity, cardiac or respiratory problems, vaccine status of the infant, etc.
Overall, the goal is to reduce the likelihood of exposure to infectious illness. Keeping babies in a bubble doesn't really work too well (although John Travolta gave it a good try in the '70s). On the other hand, it is not enough to simply watch out for sneezing, sniffling or queasy-appearing people. Keep in mind that many pathogens live for hours to days on surfaces like keyboards, yoga mats, pool cues, wands, etc. Additionally, with viral season upon us there are more germs to share when your baby is passed around the office, play group, fantasy football club, or coven.
So if you must venture out, good hand hygiene goes a long way to reducing transmission of illness. We must be mindful to not be vehicles of pestilence, unwittingly delivering germs to our own, or someone else's, precious progeny. Take a moment to sanitize your own hands before picking up the pacifier and popping it into your baby's mouth, especially if you just cheesed a hot dog and pulled a fresh Slurpee at your neighborhood Seven-One-One. You have to live life — just try to reduce the likelihood of your infant getting sick, particularly before they have had a chance to receive their initial series of vaccines.