Caring for a Premature Baby: Visitors & Going Outside
When can I take my baby out in public?
It is best not to take your baby out in public for the first three months after bringing your baby home from the hospital. When you do take him/her out, try to avoid crowds of people who might have colds and other illnesses. Some of these places may be:
- Older children's school.
- Malls or grocery stores.
- Your baby's doctors office. When arriving for your appointment, you could ask if you could be put in an examining room to wait.
Should I allow visitors when my baby gets home?
When your baby gets home there will be many well meaning people who want to come and visit. Some things to keep in mind are:
- People with colds or the flu will have to visit at a later date.
- Your premature will be more sensitive to stimulation and may do better if not held or only held for a limited time by one person.
- You can limit the number of people who visit at one time and limit the amount of time they visit.
- Don't let people drink hot liquids or smoke and hold the baby at the same time.
- Remember you are your baby's best advocate. It is okay to say that your doctor said it is not good to have visitors until your baby is a little older.
How do I deal with people's reactions to my premature infant?
People may respond with surprise or concern about your premature baby's size. They may be afraid to hold for fear of "breaking" your little one. This is a common response and they will need your reassurance that they will not harm your baby.
How can grandparents and other relatives help after discharge?
Grandparents can help with the care of siblings once you are home. Maybe an outing or an overnight at their house will help you and give the siblings a special time with their grandparents. Often there is very little energy left to handle regular day time living with other children. If possible having a grandparent come to stay for a short time can be a big help. If there is a special relative whom you trust to stay with your little one, begin to take time with your spouse. Going for a walk or for a cup of coffee can help you keep in touch with each other. Meals for the freezer or grocery shopping is another way for others to help.
While most relatives are well-meaning, there are those who give advice you do not want to hear or advice that is incorrect for your baby. Parents need to decide what is best for their family and whether visits or phone calls from others will help or hinder. You have come home equipped with the best knowledge to care for your baby and, as the parent, know what is best for your little one. It is a stressful time for everyone. If you find just one person who will be there to listen and be your advocate, they can help you explain your needs to the others in your family.