New moms spend a lot of time worrying about the health and well-being of their babies. Some new moms go to great lengths to never expose their babies to germs. They demand that visitors de-germ with antibacterial potions, spend months at home to limit exposure in grocery stores and baby music classes, and might even avoid going out on their own for fear of bringing germs home to the baby.
Here a few things to think about with respect to germs.
While babies look terribly delicate and fragile, they are actually amazingly hardy creatures. The great majority of babies are extremely healthy little things.
Germs are everywhere. If you or your spouse leave the house and encounter other people, you are bringing germs home. So, barring full house arrest for all family members, your baby will be exposed to germs.
Immune systems develop through exposure to germs. While it is heart-breaking to see a new baby sniffle (and not be able to blow his little nose) or throw up, being sick is part of growing up. Pediatricians often say that illness in the first year will result in a hearty first-grader who never misses a day of school. Oh, and by the way, a sick 6-month old is much more pleasant and much less demanding than a sick first grader!
So, what’s a new mom to do?
We are not suggesting taking a brand new baby to the infectious disease ward of a hospital. We also think it is a fine idea to not purposely expose your baby to people who are currently sick like a grandma with a terrible cold or a little cousin with a stomach bug.
But, the mental health of moms (and probably their babies, too) depends on being able to get out of the house (thereby risking exposure to germs). New moms are happier when they get out and do things, even if it is just getting some groceries or picking up the dry cleaning. New moms learn great things from other new moms who they meet at the park, support groups, and baby classes. New moms need company and should take friends and family members up on offers to come over and help with the baby and provide some adult interaction.
There is no doubt that all of these “outings” involve exposure to germs. There is no doubt that if you take your baby out and about a lot, he is going to get sick (medical fact: children average between six and ten colds per year, more if they are in daycare or school). But, moms – listen up! The benefits to you of leading an active life will undoubtedly outweigh the costs of some pesky sniffles for your baby. And remember, a satisfied, calm mom typically ends up with a satisfied, calm baby!