Thursday, April 17, 2008

Going Places, Part 1

With the weather getting warmer (in most places), RSV season coming to a close and the urge to get out of the house growing stronger, preemie parents are going to start taking their precious miracles out into the world. While most parents can't wait to show off their baby's to the world - preemie parents are often nervous, apprehensive and downright scared about the potential risk to their babies. It's a germ filled world and I don't know about you, but I can't help thinking I'm living in a Lysol commercial where you can literally "see" the germs everywhere.

Here are some tips to try and stay as germ free as possible during your outings.

1. Timing. If you are going to the store, try and go early in the morning when there are less people. If you aren't sure when the store's downtime is - call and ask. Any employee should be able to tell you when they are most busy or slow.

2. What to Bring - make sure you pack plenty of Purell (or any variant of it) and put the bottles in easy to find places. If you or your kids touch something "questionable," don't hesitant to put some Purell on. Put a pack of Clean Wipes in your purse or diaper bag. They are perfect for wiping down shopping cart handles or playground equipment.

3. Stroller/Carrier - Depending on where you are going, try and have your preemie stay in the stroller, car seat or baby carrier. When we take our daughter out in her stroller, I pull the sun shade down most of the way and then throw a blanket on top so she is totally covered. She's not a huge fan of this but it helps keep little (or big) hands from reaching in when we are in a crowd of people (like the doctor's office). A baby carrier or sling is perfect for shopping trips. Make sure to face your baby towards you - strangers are less likely to reach towards your personal space to touch the baby. Or if they do - they will only be touching the back of his/her head.

4. Keeping people away - if your baby is in a stroller or other covered carrier, the best way to keep people from trying to touch, cough or breath on your preemie is to tell them he/she is sleeping. This is especially useful for small children who are naturally curious about babies. Just gently tell them your baby is sleeping and slowly start backing up/moving forward so you and your baby are out of reach. If they can plainly see that your baby is awake - just tell them he/she is tired and then move along. A lot of people also use signs to gently remind strangers they need to be careful.

5. Outside vs. Inside - If your friends and/or family want to get together for lunch/play date, ask to meet a park. Or in a backyard. It's much easier to have kids play outside - they have more space to move around without swapping germs on every toy available.

6. Older siblings - While your protecting your preemie - don't forget about protecting your other children. Before we go into any store I have my son use Vick's Early Defense on his hands. We then Purell afterward - just in case. I also remind him that he shouldn't touch his face for the entire time we are in the store. Siblings can also be a helpful diversion from your preemie. If a friend or stranger wants to touch the baby - try and divert their attention towards your other kids. "Bobby is so excited about his little sister," "Alison is really excited about playing soccer," etc. Anything to move the focus away from your littlest one.

7. Take it slow - We've been stuck inside since July of last year so I know about the urge for freedom and well, spur of the moment shopping. You still want to take it slow. Try one trip and see how it goes. How do you feel? How did your baby do? If you take it one day at a time, you'll learn the best ways to handle things for you and your baby.

This weekend I'll post part 2 of Going Places - how to handle stares, questions and downright rudeness.

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