Socially distancing ourselves from one another this year, especially our own family members, has been hard. If you welcomed a baby in 2020 (or are about to), the inability to enjoy the magical meet-the-baby moments is especially disappointing and isolating for everyone — even more so if you’ve waited a long time for those experiences.
We understand how badly you and your family members want to hug each other and hold the newest member of the family. And we know that new parenthood is always a little lonely and isolating, even before those feelings became heightened by new parenthood in a global pandemic.
Right now, you’re all eager to share in your excitement and love. But, as you know, now just isn’t the safest time to celebrate together in person.
Your infant isn’t the only one considered high-risk for COVID complications; your older or immunocompromised loved ones are also at risk. For everyone’s safety, things are going to have to look a little different.
1. A Virtual Party
Zoom, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and other video call platforms have been a saving grace for all of us during the pandemic. With these tools, there’s no reason to cancel your baby shower or “welcome home” party.
It may not have the same feel as an in-person party, but there are some upsides to a virtual meet-and-greet:
- No need to have a bunch of people in your home when you’re already juggling the chaotic messes and sleeplessness of a newborn.
- You won’t have to clean up the mountain of spit-up rags and stray bottles scattered everywhere.
- Everyone can attend, even if they live far away.
- You’ll limit your family’s exposure to the seasonal flu, colds and other common illnesses in addition to serious illnesses like COVID-19.
You were probably already going to ask a friend or family member to help you organize a party pre-pandemic. So now, just ask that person if they’d be willing to schedule a virtual party and help coordinate the tech aspects with attendees.
2. A Drive-By Parade
One fun, lively and creative solution that has arisen in the age of COVID-19 is the drive-by parade. People throughout the world have lined up from inside the safety of their cars and slowly driven past the houses of friends and family members in honor of a celebration: birthdays, graduations, marriages, important anniversaries and, yes, to meet children for the first time.
If you invite your friends and family to participate in a drive-by parade past your home, you should probably ask them to skip the horn-honking — your baby wouldn’t appreciate the noise. However, this is a way for your loved ones to view your baby through their rolled-up car windows and offer their congratulations from a safe distance.
If they want to drop off gifts or food while they’re in the area, you probably don’t need to worry about disinfecting those items. As you know, COVID-19 is primarily spread through in-person contact (so keeping a rolled-up car window in between one another will do the trick) but it’s also completely fine to request that your visitors refrain from delivering gifts if you’re worried.
3. A Photo Shoot
Many parents-to-be were planning on having a newborn photo session long before COVID-19 struck. Now, those photos may be the only way for your friends and family to see your baby at the moment.
We know looking at a photo is a poor substitute for your loved ones cuddling your new baby, but it will give them the opportunity to see your baby closer than they would safely be able to right now.
Plus, scheduling a photo shoot with your newborn during this difficult time will someday serve as an amazing reminder of your child’s entrance into a world that felt a little upside-down. Someday, you’ll be able to show those photos to your child and explain to them what a blessing they were in the midst of such a scary and dark time.
When booking your photo session, make sure that your group is limited to the parents, the baby and the photographer. Talk with your photographer about precautions that you’ll all want to take, including but not limited to:
- Quarantining before your photo shoot.
- If available in your area, getting yourselves tested for COVID prior to the session, to be certain that you’re all negative.
- Wearing masks as often as possible during your session — put them back on after you smile!
- Taking photos outdoors rather than at home or in a studio.
- Staying at least six feet apart from the photographer when possible. They may want to bring a zoom lens!
Don’t forget to take at least one photo with your masks on, if only to commemorate the strangeness of this moment in time!
Once your photos are ready, be sure to send an online link, physical prints, or a keepsake album of your family photo session to your loved ones, so that they can see your baby up close without being close.
4. A Safe In-Person Meeting
We understand that it may be a priority for certain loved ones to meet your baby in person and that waiting until this pandemic is completely over just isn’t an option. You may feel that it’s important enough for people like your parents or siblings to hold your baby that you’re all willing to take the necessary precautions, as well as accept some level of risk.
Not everyone will feel comfortable with an in-person visit right now, so always remain respectful of everyone’s individual levels of comfort and health concerns. However, if you and a few close family members mutually decide that an in-person meeting can’t wait, we recommend that you all take some important precautions, which can include but are not limited to:
Meeting at home.
Meeting outdoors is preferable to an enclosed space, but it might not be an option in your situation — caring for a newborn as well as local weather conditions may necessitate an indoors meeting. If you do meet inside, stay at home rather than meeting up in a public place to avoid contact with non-family members.
Quarantining before the visit.
Ask your loved ones to stay at home and avoid contact with non-household members for two weeks, and practice the same quarantine measures yourself. It may seem extreme, but it’s the best way to keep everyone (including your newborn) safe.
It may not be possible for you and your family members to get tested for COVID-19 in preparation for the visit, so quarantining in advance is the best way to prevent potential spread of the illness.
Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) during the visit.
Everyone but the baby should be wearing a mask throughout the entirety of the visit. Remember: Try not to touch your mask while you’re together. Wearing a mask won’t do anyone any good if you’re not using it properly!
Washing hands and sanitizing.
It may seem simple and it’s been said countless times, but you and your visitors should wash your hands in accordance with CDC guidelines before, during and after the visit. Even if visitors aren’t planning on touching the new baby, they’ll still probably touch a few shared surfaces or objects. Sanitizing frequently touched areas (doorknobs, tables, your phones, etc.) before and after the visit will also limit the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
Keeping your distance.
As tempting as it is to pass your baby around for long-awaited cuddles, everyone should try to maintain a six-foot distance as often as possible. If your loved one must hold your baby, ask that they refrain from kissing your newborn or removing their mask.
Additionally, make sure that you and your loved ones maintain a safe distance from one another. We know it’s hard not to touch, hug, kiss, or be physically close to your family during this important moment, but safely needs to come first right now. Remind everyone to keep touching to a minimum.
Celebrating the arrival of a child can feel strange in the middle of so many unknowns and stressors. But, it absolutely still deserves celebration and joy — even if those celebrations are a little bit different from how we had originally imagined!