Now that your baby is born, what do you do? It’s natural to want to protect your baby from the germ infested outside world, but that isn’t always the best choice. Not only can preventing your newborn from slowly being introduced to bacterias lead to harsher illnesses down the road, but insufficient socialization can make it more difficult for little ones to bond with people who aren’t parents -- which can also make separation anxiety much more difficulty. Here are a few tips for introducing your baby to the world.
1. Don’t be afraid of germs.
You’ll probably want a few days to recuperate, but there’s no reason you can’t take your baby out in public in the first weeks of life. Babies are born with some of their mother’s immunity to disease, so they aren't completely defenseless. Your baby will also be getting a whole host of vaccines to protect them from common illnesses during their first few years. The first vaccines won’t happen for a couple of months, but that’s okay. Additionally, breast feeding is a great way to continue providing babies with antibodies and immune factors that help fend off disease.
Furthermore, as your baby gets older, don’t be afraid to let them play in the dirt and eat cheerios off the carpet -- even if it makes you shudder. Research shows that children who come into contact with more germs earlier on (within reason) tend to have healthier immune systems.
2. Make sure the people around your baby are vaccinated.
That being said, newborns are still exactly that -- brand new and not used to germs. Mother's immunities aren’t going to completely keep babies from getting sick. Because their immune systems aren’t ready to handle vaccines straight out of the womb, it’s important for the people your baby is going to spend time with to be vaccinated as well. Parents, grandparents, babysitters, siblings, and anyone else who’s going to be around a lot need to be vaccinated so they don’t act as carriers for common diseases like whooping cough, which can be fatal.
3. Bring your baby around other people.
Once you’re certain your newborn is as protected from germs and sickness as possible, it’s time to start passing him or her around. The more babies interact with people besides their parents, the better their social skills are going to be -- and social skills are critical. Spending time with other adults will also make it easier to stay with a babysitter. You can expect at least one, if not two or three periods of serious separation anxiety. Starting the process early on will make this easier when your baby starts realizing that you’re actually leaving them, no matter how short the time frame.
4. Don’t forget to include other babies.
While a lot of your baby’s interaction is going to be with parents and other adults for the first year or so, it’s also really important to get them involved with other little ones closer to their age. Starting around four months or so, babies become fascinated by other babies -- even if it’s just a face in a book. It’ll be about two years before your baby will be ready to actually play side by side with other kids, and another year after that before they start actually playing with other children. The sooner you start socializing, the sooner they starts building important social skills and becoming confident about their ability to interact with other people -- even little people.