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Stresses of Being a New Parent during the COVID-19 Era

Posted on Aug 10, 2020

Having a baby creates happy times but added stressors with the coronavirus (COVID-19). On this week’s On Call for All KidsPrem Fort, M.D., a neonatologist from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, gives new parents some helpful tips about taking the stress out of being a new parent.

Can babies leave the house for walks or to visit family members?

  • In general, the immune systems of newborns are still immature. Minimizing interactions with adults and other children is always best to help avoid exposing them to germs that may make them sick. This is especially true now.
  • So, avoid or minimize any interactions outside of your immediate household unit (those in close proximity of living quarters). This includes neighbors, friends, and unfortunately, family that does not live with the baby. 
  • If other people have to interact with the baby, wearing a mask may help reduce spread of germs to the baby.
  • Always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (sing the happy birthday song twice) upon entering your home, before touching the baby and after diaper changes. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can also be used as an alternative to hand washing.
  • Taking walks and outdoor activities are OK if you practice physical distancing from other people, wear protective clothing and avoid direct sun exposure to the baby. 

Should babies wear masks?

  • No, babies should never wear masks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends no masks for children below 2 years of age.  

What are the symptoms that babies can have if they get coronavirus? 

  • Some babies are asymptomatic, so do not have any symptoms. 
  • Some babies can develop a fever, a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 Celsius. 
  • Babies can also get a runny nose and develop respiratory problems, such as breathing fast, breathing hard, or coughing.  Importantly, a bluish discoloration of the lips, face or chest can indicate a decrease in oxygen in the blood and requires emergency evaluation. 
  • Other symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, decreased appetite, and low activity. 
  • Newborns should be taken for emergency evaluation if they develop a fever, difficulty breathing, are not feeding and urinating appropriately, or are very sleepy and not responding normally. Please call your pediatrician right away if you have any concerns about your baby. 
  • In general, babies who get COVID can do very well. Some babies who get COVID may need admission to the hospital for observation for 1-2 days. A small number can become more ill need a breathing tube to help them breathe or intravenous fluid to help with dehydration.

We are still learning about COVID-19 and many more cases will emerge, so we must take it very seriously to protect ourselves and our sweet little ones from this pandemic.

On Call for All Kids is a weekly series featuring Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital experts. Visit  HopkinsAllChildrens.org/Stories each Monday for the latest report. 


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