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Is it too soon to visit others with our 3-week-old baby?
Q: My baby is 3 weeks old, and lots of people keep asking us to visit. Do you think it's too soon for us to be taking her around to visit people?
A: Michelle, congratulations on your new baby! It's wonderful to share your joy and show her off to your family and friends. But remember that newborn babies are more susceptible to catching illnesses from others because their immune systems are not fully developed. It's good to be cautious about this, but you don't need to be overly worried. Your newborn has some immune protection from the antibodies she got from you during the pregnancy. Also, if you're breastfeeding, your baby is getting additional antibodies and protection from illness through the breast milk.

We usually advise parents to be most careful not to expose their baby to illnesses in the first month of life. It is healthy to take your baby out so she can get fresh air, feel the motion of walking and experience new sights and sounds. It's also healthy for you and your husband to go out, get physical activity and have the chance to share your excitement and get support from others. You can feel comfortable taking your newborn to the park, the supermarket or grandma's house. But it's best to avoid crowded places, especially during the winter, when more people are sick with colds and flu.

When making arrangements to get together with other people, ask them if they or their children are sick. If so, wait until everyone is healthy before getting together. Limit the number of people you let hold your baby. Ask any people who want to hold her to wash their hands first. Ask adults and children not to kiss your baby on the face or touch your baby's hands, since those are common ways for her to catch germs. They can safely touch your baby's feet or legs instead.

Also, remember to wash your own hands frequently. And be sure to keep your baby up-to-date on her immunizations to help protect her from serious illnesses.
Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician