I'm kind of conflicted on this point. I understand that newborns could be said to have "compromised" immune systems, but my casual philosophy on dirt and germs in general is that low-level exposure is generally a good thing.
When my BFF had her baby 1.5 years ago, she cheerfully reminded everyone who came into the house (up until baby was about 3 months old) to use hand sanitizer she had provided at the front door. I was and am totally fine with this... but kinda wondering what I will do.
My babe is due in Feb/March and I expect to be taking him/her to Passover and Easter at Grandmothers' houses at 2-3 weeks old. I have no problem standing up for myself, even if it sounds kooky/overprotective to others, but I am not sure how much I care or should care if people have washed their hands before they hold or touch the baby. I plan to BW, so I'm hoping baby-holding/passing will be limited*... But I still expect him/her to be held briefly by at least 5-10 people... or at least touched.
Is that not a good idea? (Assuming baby has no health issues other than simply being a newborn.)
What do you think? What did you do?
*At least in comparison to my cousin and his fiance, who recently brought their 7-week-old 33-weeker (i.e., age adjusted brand-newborn) to my Grandmother's house and basically asked everyone present if they'd like to hold the baby. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that... just pointing it out to say that it's not my instinct to start passing baby around ASAP, but it's also somewhat expected in my family that folks will be allowed/encouraged to hold baby.
WAHer & Wannabe, Wife to DH 1998, Mama to Buko, Born at Home March 2013
I wouldn't use hand sanitizer, but that's just me. There's either a lot of alcohol in them or triclosan which I would not be comfortable with touching my newborn. I think handwashing is a good idea, though. And if it makes you feel better, remind everyone who might come into contact with the babe that if they have a cold to keep their distance.
Jean, feminist mama raising three boys: W (7), E (5) and L (2.15.13)
My babe was born December 30, and for the first week or two, most people who held her washed their hands, or used sanitizer. I was not terribly concerned, as she is EBF, but most visitors took it upon themselves to wash up for baby holding. And if folks were obviously sick they tended to keep away. I ended up with a cold when she was a couple months old, miserable for me, but she stayed healthy. She is now 6 months old and hasn't suffered any real sickness. Maybe had a very minor cold with sniffles and extra nursing once or twice. I babywear, so exposure for her is somewhat more limited than it would be otherwise.
I had a similar experience. For the first month we asked people to wash before holding her, especially my nieces since kids pick up so much at school. After that we got more relaxed about it. DD is breast fed, and never once has been sick in 9 months. We are now pretty laid back about germs, letting her play with things, basically ok with exposure to stuff. It worked for us.
Ugh, yeah, there are a few in my circle who are convinced that babies are meant to be passed from person to person.
My husband had people over to see a little too quick for my taste. To make up for it, he procured us some medical-grade hand sanitizing wash, and I cheerfully directed people to scrub up as soon as they stepped in the door.
I've always reserved the right to not hand her over, or take her back whenever I wanted. She's mine. Who on earth is going to fight with a mother about their baby? Jerks, that's who.
Do what you need to do.
And on 09/23/2011, we were three; husband, daughter, and me!
Hand washing!! Alcohol content in sanitizer might not be so good for a baby when smelled. But your baby will only be 2-3 weeks old,..If I where you I wont let other's hold her/him. The baby is still so soft/fragile to be passed on. And at that age she is most of the time sleeping passing her on too much may give her/her stress.
Living is great but being a MOM is even better
Happy Wife Since '05 and NEW MOM! in '12
Om'ing to Peace
Blogging Now Too! Visit my Blog
When my LO was born.... well, first of all, I wasn't about to go anywhere I didn't have to for the first month! Passover and Easter dinners??!! You are one brave mama. If people wanted to see us they came to us... but yes, handwashing... and I agree with the PPs on sanitizer as a no-no. Have you smelled that stuff? Gross and chemically if you ask me. Everyone offered to wash their hands voluntarily. I had a number of smokers in my circle as well (notice the word "had" - it's funny how your friends change around the needs of your kiddos), but I mostly didn't even invite them over until he was three or four months old because of that (maybe that's why we're not friends anymore? Oh well!). My kiddo got passed around plenty after that and I wasn't too worried about it. He's gotten sick twice... once when he was 2 months and now he has contracted the chicken pox at 10 months. I have no idea how that happened, but he's really not too sick and is his usual happy self.
I can understand that letting your family hold this newborn is a fact. Personally, I would ask for hand washing but because I don't trust the validity of people's ability to hand wash, or that "my hands are clean" I always had sanitizer ready if they didn't wash at my house, and simply said, "here is some sanitizer"...
I wasn't willing to deny visits, partly because I wanted to share in the joy of my newborn, and I found that people in general respected the susceptibility of a newborn, and at 2-3 weeks i offered the "look, dont touch" approach.
For what it's worth, DD was/is bottle nursed with formula and she has not been sick (though had one unexplained fever for less hn 24 hrs at 4 mo). A lot of family and friends have held her and they are all respectful of my desire for cleanliness. And we did leave the house as a newborn.
The reality of a family event like you are describing is that from the time a person washes hands to the time they get to you they may have hugged or touched several contaminated items. I would request hand washing but have sanitizer. Your baby will be clothed and people are unlikely to touch a baby's face, so I don't think the harsh chemicals, though true, will affect baby. It is more likely that not sanitizing will affect baby IMHO
That said, I would start talking now about not feeling comfy with baby being held. If people want to hold baby they are welcome to come to our house for a visit. Yes, so and so did at such and such weeks old, but you feel different. I had to do this and it was uncomfortable, but they got over it and baby didn't get passed around. And you know what.....not one of those people that I had to say that to in prep for the "party" (DD was 3 weeks old) ever made time to come visit us at home.
I was worried about this when DS was born because I'm not the cleanest of people and not that confrontational for that kind of thing - I was worried people would just assume I was "cool with it" and I would be considered rude for piping up. To my relief and surprise, no one took offense when I asked them to wash their hands first, and at the first party-type thing we went to where someone wanted to pass him around, it was surprisingly easy to say, "Do you mind washing your hands before holding him? And just make sure that if anyone else asks to hold him that they wash their hands first too?" I didn't really want him passed, but I knew it would happen if I turned my back for 2 seconds (which it did). So don't be shy about speaking up! No one minded, and some were even embarrassed they hadn't thought of it first.
I was definitely not going anywhere that early, though! It takes me a while to feel okay leaving our nest. The first family doctor we had would tell me to basically stay home for a month. That was right for me, but it's certainly different for each woman.