RSV, Premature Infants, and New Baby Etiquette

All of my babies were born weeks after their due date, so I had never really heard about the dangers of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) before recently. I was still careful to have people wash their hands before touching my baby, of course. But did you know you could unintentionally pass along RSV to a newborn if you arent careful? Full-term newborns can get it as well as premature, but premature babies are more at risk because their lungs and immune systems are underdeveloped. This makes fighting off something as common as a cold difficult.

Some quick facts about RSV everyone should know:

RSV is a virus that causes symptoms similar to a cold that can lead to a serious lung infection.
It is easily spread through touch and can live on surfaces like doorknobs and blankets.
It is not treatable, making it very important that you do everything you can to ensure your baby is safe.
Symptoms to watch for: Coughing and wheezing that doesnt stop, fast breathing or gasping, a bluish color around the mouth or fingernails, and high fever.

So what can you do to protect premature babies? As a visitor, you:

Should wash your hands frequently, and especially just prior to holding the baby.
Should not visit the baby if you feel like you might be getting sick or have been exposed to someone you know is sick.
Should not bring along young children and toddlers who might have picked up the virus at daycare or preschool.

I know its hard as the new mom or dad to be the party pooper, reminding visitors to wash their hands before they touch the baby, asking them not to kiss him or her, and interrogating them on their recent and current health. There is so much excitement at meeting the new little addition, no one wants to have to think of these things. I know from experience, though, that if you dont set the rules out first thing youll be horrified when someone does kiss your baby or doesnt offer to wash their hands first and touches your baby. Ive even had people touch my baby in his mouth! Youd be surprised how ignorant even other moms can be sometimes they just need a little guidance. So dont feel bad get it out of the way first thing, and then everyone can enjoy the baby. And you can relax!

Heres a helpful infographic:

To learn more about RSV, visit

Now I have to bring up general new baby etiquette. Its a good thing to discuss before you have your baby because issues can arise for instance, not all moms like to be bombarded with visitors immediately after giving birth. I didnt plan at all with my first and I remember being exhausted and feeling like I had no control over what was happening. I was excited to share my baby girl, but more tired than anything. It was my fault, though I hadnt set out any rules at all. I was happy to see everyone, but the timing was too soon for me and my new little one.

Here are some general new baby etiquette tips for visitors:

Ask ahead of time when the new mom will want to receive visitors. At the hospital? At home? How long after the baby is born?
Call before you visit!
If you feel like you might be getting sick or are just getting over sickness, better to be safe than give the new baby your virus.
Offer to help the new mom in some way! Bring a casserole or a gift certificate for pizza. 🙂
Dont tell the new parents that they are being paranoid or overprotective if they have set out rules.
Dont stay too long if the parents look tired (unless youre helping in some way).

Do you have any etiquette tips or a new baby story you want to share?

I wrote this post in participation with a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.