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Raising little ones during the pandemic is not for the faint of heart. As a parent, you would do anything to keep your baby safe, but during COVID-19 that’s not always simple. With a new strain always around the corner and vaccines not yet available for kids under 5, parents want to know how to safely celebrate the holidays during COVID with babies and young children. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but thankfully there are many ways to safely honor family traditions and enjoy a magical holiday season.
Top Tips for Safer Holidays During COVID with Babies
If you’re planning on spending time with people outside your immediate household, the CDC advises that vaccination is the best way to protect yourself. While babies and children under 5 aren’t yet eligible, if their caretakers and family members are vaccinated, young children are better protected.
People age 16 and up can now receive a booster shot for increased immunity. Kids age 5-11 can receive their first and second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The evidence on vaccination during pregnancy and breastfeeding is growing, showing no adverse effects, possibly providing antibodies to the baby as well.
Wear a Mask
Your baby can’t wear a mask until she turns 2, but you help keep her safer when you wear yours. If you’re traveling or spending time indoors with people outside of your immediate household, wearing a well-fitting mask over your mouth and nose keeps you and your family safer.
Keep it Small
Any time you engage with people outside your immediate household, there’s an increased risk of COVID transmission. Keeping gatherings small is important in reducing risk. When considering the guest list, keep in mind both the number of attendees and the number of different households. For example, it’s generally safer to gather with one other family of four than to gather with two different couples from different households.
In preparation for holiday gatherings, it’s important that attendees spend the prior two weeks being extra COVID-cautious like always masking up and avoiding large crowds. For added precautions, people can get tested prior to traveling.
If you are gathering with others, outdoor and socially distanced gatherings are safest. This is not always possible during winter, especially with littles ones. If you gather indoors, keeping windows open with a box fan blowing air out one or more windows helps to keep the air circulating, reducing particle transmission.
Traveling increases your exposure to different people and often includes indoor, busy places like airports. Consider staying close to home this season. If traveling is necessary, taking your own car is safer than using public transportation. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious-diseases physician and medical director of the Special Pathogens Unit at Boston Medical Center, advises that people should only consider traveling to meet one another if they are coming from and meeting in an area where the test positive rate is under 5 percent.
We all crave in-person connection with loved ones, but during the pandemic it is not always the safest way to celebrate. Virtual gatherings are the safest way to celebrate, and the only option that completes eliminates the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Plan Ahead to Safely Celebrate the Holidays During COVID With Babies
By now you’ve got a favorite mask for every occasion and have hand sanitizer on auto-subscribe. Daily social distancing routines are second nature, but the holidays require more forethought. Plan ahead to keep you and your family safe this holiday season.