You may be worried about exposing your baby to germs in restaurants and other public places—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Is it safe to let family, friends or even friendly strangers admire your baby up close? (He is, after all, irresistible.) Until your baby is 6 months old and his immune system matures, be cautious.

Babies under age 1 may be at risk for more severe illness with COVID-19 (the coronavirus), so it’s important to take steps to protect them:

  • Avoid crowds or larger gatherings with people who do not live in your home. It may also be wise not to have visitors in your home until after the pandemic is over, to be as safe as possible.
  • Avoid people who are not wearing a mask; stay at least 6 feet apart from those who don’t live in your home; and be sure that anyone who comes in contact with your baby washes hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or uses hand sanitizer containing at least 60% ethyl alcohol or 70% isopropyl alcohol) beforehand. This applies to situations when you’re out with your baby or have visitors in your home.
  • While smiling and cooing at your baby are fine (from a safe distance), you can discourage close or direct contact by saying, “I’m sorry, but our pediatrician says he shouldn’t be exposed to new people at this time.” If someone does hold his hands (which are likely to end up in his mouth), wipe off his fingers with a sanitizing baby wipe. If a nice dog gives him a kiss on the cheek, clean that off, too.
  • Avoid crowds during flu season, as well, and avoid anyone with a clearly active infection or virus. Also, you and your partner should have a flu shot when your baby is less than 6 months old. After that, he can have his own flu shot.

Beyond the above guidance, you don’t necessarily need to go overboard in protecting your baby from germs. His developing immune system needs to be exposed to his environment to become strong and reduce the risk of developing allergies. 

Learn more about infant care during the pandemic.

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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