In some cultures, it is common practice for new moms and their babies to stay home and away from crowds for up to three months. Of course, part of this conversation is the amount of paid parental leave each country allows for new parents. Without reasonable job security and pay, quarantining your newborn is simply not possible for many. These days as our busier life and work styles have changed, families are often encouraged to “get back to normal” as quickly as possible.
But after having a baby, “back to normal” simply isn’t possible. What we need to find is what the new normal will become. That takes time. We cannot expect ourselves to completely transition from pregnant to mother (or mother of one to mother of two, etc) in the matter of a couple days.
We also can’t expect a newborn baby to transition from comfy cozy womb to the cold scary world at such a hectic pace. A newborn whose entire existence has been sheltered and comforted cannot be bombarded with excess stimulation and germs right away. So perhaps a three-month quarantine is not possible or realistic based on certain situations, but there are a myriad of reasons to consider keeping your newborn quarantined for at least a few weeks.
15 Cold & Flu
Especially if your baby is born in the fall and winter, cold and flu season is something to be seriously considered. Newborns and their immune systems are especially susceptible to germs. Not only are newborns especially vulnerable to catching illness, sickness is much harder on their bodies making it much more likely for them to suffer from a cold or the flu in ways that older children or adults simply wouldn’t. Newborns that are exposed to cold and flu germs often end up in the hospital or NICU because their immune systems and lungs are not developed enough to fight off those germs. Best to just keep them away from those germs in the first place.
14 Stomach viruses, norovirus, rotovirus, oh my!
Like cold and flu germs, GI bugs have a tendency to spread like wildfire at certain times. Often we are unaware of these germ trends until it’s too late and they’re already out there. Like their immune and respiratory systems, newborn gastro-intestinal systems are not equipped to ward off these kinds of germs. They are really only ready for easily digestible breast milk or formula. They have not yet built up the immunity to combat viruses like norovirus and rotovirus. As older kids and even adults can attest to, these illnesses are painful and torturous even when your body is equipped to fight them. For a newborn, these viruses can prove to be fatal.
13 Outbreaks of Common Illness
“That’s been going around.” As adults, we hear this and simply think to wash our hands a bit more and hope we don’t get whatever “it” is. But with a newborn whatever that bacteria or virus outbreak is could be hugely dangerous. Chickenpox, measles, whooping cough, and hand, foot, and mouth disease are all fairly common outbreak illnesses that occur in preschool or school age children. This is also the population that is most likely to spread germs because of their propensity to touch everything without washing their hands. These germs then spread and populate quickly. All of a sudden, it’s an outbreak. Older children and adults can sustain and recover from the symptoms of these sicknesses fairly easily, but they can cause serious and sometimes long term difficulties if presented in infancy.
12 People Touch Without Asking
Nearly everyone loves babies. They’re irresistibly adorable. For most people, it’s impossible to look away from a newborn baby. Further still, some people feel compelled to touch babies even without asking. The smaller the child is, the more drawn to them people tend to be. They want to touch their little fingers and toes and feel their soft baby skin. It’s understandable – they are only so little and soft and perfect for so long. But as a parent of a newborn, you may want to scream at them to stop. And even if (when) you choose to do so, that person has already touched the baby and possible transferred germs to them. Staying home and away from wandering germy fingers eliminates unsolicited baby touching altogether.
11 Prioritize Quality Family Time
When a new baby is born is the most essential time to carve out quality bonding time with all immediate family members. When you choose to quarantine the baby, you are also choosing to quarantine at least one other family member if not more. This time and space together is incredibly beneficial to everyone, so take advantage of it. Skin-to-skin contact for the baby helps to emotionally bond baby with family members and aids in development of internal systems such as respiratory, immunity, and nervous systems. Simple but quality time spent together helps family members feel connected to one another, building and improving emotional bonds. Countless pieces of research confirm that early bonding time with immediate family results in higher self-esteem, increased feelings of security, and improved social and cognitive development.
10 They Aren’t Adequately Vaccinated Yet
Without inciting a riot about vaccination schedules, newborns that are not (or not yet) vaccinated need to be sheltered from serious illnesses that may be experiencing an outbreak of any sort. That’s just a fact. Many of the vaccines that are scheduled during the first two months of life are contracted through air contact and touch. Taking a baby out of the house will ensure both. To make the safest decision for your baby’s health, it’s beneficial to keep them quarantined so they do not contact any germs or illnesses that they are not yet adequately inoculated against.
9 Weather Conditions
Extreme weather conditions of any sort are dangerous for newborns. Whether that means excessive heat, blizzards or bitter cold, newborns should not be out in any of it. With cold weather, newborns’ skin itself is often too sensitive for bitter temperatures. Cold thin air can also be tough on new lungs making breathing difficult. More extreme conditions can include hypothermia and frost bite, both of which are particularly dangerous for newborns and infants. Likewise, a heat wave is equally dangerous for new babies. Dehydration can happen quickly in infants as can heat exhaustion. Quarantining your new baby especially during extreme weather conditions provides the safest environment.
8 Sun in General
Brand new babies should not be out in the sun for long periods of time even on the nicest of days. Sunscreen cannot be applied until they are at least six months old, so newborns must be completely covered when in the sun. As a result, it is easy for them to also overheat. Newborn skin is much thinner and more fragile and burns much quicker and easier. Quarantining your baby means keeping them away from too many people and germs, but also means keeping them safe from outside elements.
7 Newborn Temperature Regulation
Temperature regulation is a bodily function that develops throughout the first year of a child’s life. Which means, a newborn baby cannot regulate their own body temperature very well yet. While they are growing and developing in the womb, temperature regulation happens through the mother’s body which means it is not a skill that the baby’s body has developed yet at birth. This is why they need to be in an area that is not too hot or too cold. If the baby is in an environment that is too hot or too cold, their body can go into shock without the ability to regulate their own body temperature. Staying home with baby is a good way to ensure that their temperature will remain safe and healthy.
6 Controlled Air Quality
In addition to temperature, very young lungs should not be exposed to polluted, contaminated, or generally unclean air. While adults are used to it and our lungs have mostly figured out how to sustain our health in the face of dirty air, baby lungs are not yet capable of that. Lungs are the last major body organ to develop which means especially if your newborn was born early, their lungs need to be protected from outside elements and pollution. Almost anywhere you live in the world at this point is affected by air pollution of some sort. Keeping your baby at home can help you avoid pollutants in your child’s lungs. Consider purchasing an air purifier to ensure the highest quality air for your home, especially the space in which your baby sleeps.
5 Give Mom Time to Heal
Not all of this quarantining is just for the baby. It’s for the new momma too! After a woman gives birth, she needs time to physically heal, balance her hormones, and get acquainted with her varying new emotions. It’s especially difficult to do that with a lot of people around and out in public. Typically speaking, it takes the average mother around six weeks to physically heal from vaginal childbirth, longer if it was a c-section birth. Walking, going to the bathroom, and standing for long periods of time are all difficult to do soon after having a baby. Quarantining your baby also can mean quarantining yourself to ensure that momma gets the rest she needs to heal completely so she can best care for her newborn.
4 Combat Postpartum Depression by Bonding at Home
Focusing on being home and bonding with your newborn can help reduce or eliminate symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety. While many people say getting out of the house is helpful is fighting depression, often leaving a safe comfort zone amps up anxiety. Postpartum anxiety is getting a lot of necessary attention lately. Postpartum depression has taken center stage for awhile, leaving mothers who experience extreme levels of anxiety after becoming a new mom in the dark and feeling confused. PPA can involve worrying about your child being safe, anxiety about driving with the baby, kidnapping, and more. Sticking close to home and concentrating on being your baby’s safe spot can reduce the amount of anxiety triggers new moms may experience.
3 Avoid Unsolicited Advice (for now)
Being around people, any amount of people, will result in unsolicited advice about everything. And new moms have it the worst. Breastfeeding, formula, vaccinations, tummy time, sleep training, cloth diapers…you name it, someone has advice about it. The same people that have pointers you didn’t ask for are also likely to be judgmental about the decisions you have felt sure about (up until the moment you talk to them). Parenthood is largely about learning to listen to your own intuitions about your child. Keeping yourself and your baby out of the way of advice and judgment overload can keep you both happier and more content.
2 Increased Sleep for Everyone
When you go out and about, sleep schedules are inevitably affected. Every new mom is told to “sleep when the baby sleeps.” And while that is not always possible, if you are home together, it is much more possible at least some of the time. Newborns do not sleep for very long stretches of time. Their bodies are not designed to. They need to wake up to eat and fill their tiny bellies so they can grow. But since they can only fill their stomach so much at one time, they have to eat again not too longer after the first feeding. Staying home means having the chance to sleep a little bit more, and certainly rest more frequently than if you go out and leave home. And everyone knows if momma isn’t rested and happy, ain’t nobody gonna be happy!
1 Get in Touch With Your Motherly Instincts
“Mother’s intuition” is a real thing. The instincts you begin to feel once you bring your new baby home can be overwhelming and hard to understand. It is important to tap into them. Staying home where you can focus on yourself and your new bundle of joy helps you to listen to what you and your baby need. Tapping into and listening to these instincts (unfortunately) doesn’t mean you will always and easily have all the answers to parenting. But it does mean you have an inner guide to listen for. But this is a new skill, like anything else, and you will need time to practice it. But if you are at home practicing listening for that instinct, it will be much easier to manage the stress of what to do when your baby won’t stop crying than if you’re out in a crowd of people.