New baby! Does sibling need to stay home?

The Pediatric Insider

© 2013 Roy Benaroch, MD

I’m a-busy editing and polishing a big project—details later—so for a little while, I’m going to try to stick to short questions and news stories. It’s a fun-sized-blogging summer! Feel free to send in a brief question from the links on the right. I won’t be able to answer all of them, but I’ll get to the ones I think are most interesting. Thanks!

Marianna wrote: “We currently have a 2 1/2 year old and a newborn who arrived last week. Our pediatrician here advised to keep our 2 year old out of daycare for two months (explaining the procedures necessary if he gets a fever before 2 months old). I was wondering your opinion about the risk reward of spreading germs to a newborn vs. keeping our two year old in a somewhat routine schedule.”

First, congratulations! I hope you’re feeling good and getting some sleep. Please, remember to take a nice long shower at least once a day. You deserve it!

Now: I see what the ped is saying. A 2 ½ year old in group care may well bring something home, and I don’t mean a clay walrus or a picture frame made of macaroni. You do want to keep germs out of your house. But the 2 ½ year old is part of the family, too, and I’m not so sure it’s fair to put newborn concerns so far ahead of the sibling’s needs.

What I’d suggest: keep the older child away from the baby if he’s sick. Newborns aren’t crawling around and mouthing everything (yet), so unless someone touches baby’s face with germy hands or sneezes right on him, the risk of transmission isn’t very great. It’s the summer, so there aren’t tons of respiratory viruses around right now. If it were winter, I’d suggest getting flu shots for everyone in the house over 6 months of age.

But keep the 2 year old home for two months? That doesn’t seem like it will be very enjoyable for the child. Or mom. Or, even, the newborn. Older Junior, if he’s used to day care and likes it, would rather be there with his buddies; and Junior Junior, he’d rather be home snuggling with mom for a few hours while she’s not chasing another child around the house. Mom is going to need a break, and I don’t think she’s likely to get it by keeping her toddler home.

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2 Comments on “New baby! Does sibling need to stay home?”


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