Giving Your Baby a Sibling

Once your baby is at least a year old, you may be considering getting pregnant again. Research finds that the ideal gap between childbirth and a new pregnancy is 12–18 months (to avoid health risks to the mother and future baby). 

If you decide to get pregnant after your baby reaches 1 year, keep in mind that that child will be 21 or 22 months old (ie., not even 2 yet) when the new baby comes along.

There are many pluses to having children close in age. As they grow, they often become each other’s favorite playmates. You’ll go through the baby years all at once, and your kids will move on to the school years together, which can simplify a family’s schedule.

You’ll have 2 main challenges as the mother of 2 very small children. One is to remember to take care of yourself. The second is to remember that even though your children are close in age, they are at different developmental stages. It will be important to try to keep each child’s age-specific needs in mind as they grow.

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Both infants and children can be infected with COVID-19. Infants under age 1 and children with underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for more severe illness with the virus, so it’s important to take steps to protect them.

So far, COVID-19 has affected most children less severely than adults, with primarily mild cases. Some children have no symptoms, but are still contagious, while a small percentage of other children have been hospitalized with serious symptoms.

If you’re caring for a baby during the coronavirus pandemic, there are steps you can take to protect your little one. 

If you do not have COVID-19:

  • Feed and care for your baby as you normally would.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly (for at least 20 seconds with soap and water) or use sanitizer (with at least 60% ethyl alcohol or 70% isopropyl alcohol) before feeding and handling your infant.
  • When out and about, regularly using hand sanitizer on your infant may be too harsh for the baby’s delicate skin. But if a gentle soap cleanser and water are not available and hand washing is necessary, rub a pea-sized amount of hand sanitizer into the baby’s hands until dry.
  • Avoid people who are sick, large gatherings or close contact with others from outside your household.
  • Wear a mask when out with your baby or when around people who do not live in your home. Do not put a mask on your baby; it is a suffocation risk. Children can start wearing masks at age 2. 
  • Have people from outside your household wear a face mask and socially distance (staying 6 feet apart) when around your baby.

If you or others in your home have (or suspect you may have) COVID-19:

  • Stay at least 6 feet away from the baby, if possible, except for feedings or to provide other needed care. Isolate yourself from the public (and from others in your household as much as possible) until you have recovered.
  • Put on a face mask and wash hands thoroughly before breastfeeding, bottle feeding and otherwise caring for your baby. So far, COVID-19 has not been detected in the breast milk of mothers who are ill, and breastfeeding with the proper precautions is considered safe. 
  • Wash your hands before touching breastfeeding pump or bottle parts. Clean all parts after each use.
  • If possible, rely on others who are well to help feed and care for your baby.

If you had COVID-19 symptoms, take the above steps until:

  • 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared; you are fever-free (without medication) for 24 hours; and your other COVID-19 symptoms are improving.
    If you had no symptoms, but tested positive, take the above steps until:
  • 10 days have passed since the date of your positive COVID-19 test.

Symptoms to Watch for

COVID-19 has similar symptoms to other illnesses, such as a bad cold or the flu. Symptoms in infants and young children may include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches, soreness
  • Cough
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Poor appetite or poor feeding

Call your child’s healthcare provider if your child has any (or several) of these symptoms, though some of them may be difficult for you to identify in an infant. If your baby has serious difficulty breathing, call 911.

Important: Don’t delay or skip any medical appointments for your baby due to concerns about exposure to COVID-19. Medical offices have taken steps to help protect children and their families from potential exposure to the virus. If you’re concerned, ask your child’s healthcare provider about these steps. 

Learn more about the virus and how to protect your family.

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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