Ask the VEC: Keeping a Newborn Healthy Around the Holidays

Published on in Parents PACK

Q. We’re the proud parents of a newborn boy. He is too young to receive a flu shot and has just begun the recommended vaccine schedule. With the holidays coming up and many extended family members and visitors excited to meet him for the first time, how can we protect him from getting sick?

A. While your newborn is likely to be exposed to viruses and bacteria regardless of your efforts this holiday and winter season, you can take several steps to protect him while meeting relatives and friends:

  • Promote hand washing — Not only should you wash your hands often; you should ask anyone about to hold your son to do so as well. You can even wash or rinse your baby’s hands with some gentle baby soap after an outing or visit.
  • Discourage kissing on the face — Encourage those who want to kiss the baby to refrain from kissing his face where it is easier for viruses and bacteria to find their way into his nose or mouth.
  • Promote vaccinations — Hopefully, everyone in your home or regularly caring for the baby is up to date on vaccines, especially influenza and Tdap. However, you can also ask that those who are going to spend significant time around your newborn during the holidays to receive these vaccines as they can help “cocoon” unvaccinated babies. Cocooning involves vaccinating all those who come into close, regular contact with a newborn. The result is that the virus or bacteria is less likely to infect one of these people, and because they are less likely to be infected, the baby is less likely to be exposed. The circle of vaccinated family and caregivers forms a protective barrier around the baby.

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.