How do I protect my newborn from getting sick
January 4, 2013 2:48 AM   Subscribe

I have a 4 day old baby and my 2 year old just came down with a fever (101.5 at the moment). We don't have anyone who can take the toddler for a couple of days, but I am afraid the baby or my wife might get sick. I am really worried. What should I do?
posted by crawfishpopsicle to Health & Fitness (21 answers total)
Response by poster: Also, I am completely exhausted, so any help with context on how worried I should be is appreciated.
posted by crawfishpopsicle at 2:50 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You should probably consider it your job right now to care for and quarantine your toddler. Try to keep them seperated (hard I know with a new sibling toddlers become super clingy). Take him/her to the pediatrician soon and make sure it isn't anything more then a virus.
posted by lasamana at 2:58 AM on January 4, 2013

What does your doctor recommend?
posted by greta simone at 2:59 AM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was going to say something similar to lasamana. Quarantine yourself with the toddler, keep them away from mum and baby. Everyone wash your hands a lot. Although there is no-one to take the toddler, is there anyone who either you and the toddler, or mum and baby, can stay with for a few days?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:05 AM on January 4, 2013

Best answer: Note: I have no medical training whatsoever - the following is based on what I remember from when my (now adult) kids were little.

Call your doctor in the morning, but here are a couple of points that might help you get some rest in the meantime:

Your newborn still has your wife's immunities acquired in utero.

It's not unusual for two year olds to spike alarming high temps. Motrin was the best fever reducer when my kids were little (of course, ask your doctor before administering). Also, in case you aren't aware, no aspirin (including "baby" aspirin) at this age.

A cool-water sponge bath may also help relieve the fever - and if your daughter like baths, distract/entertain her.

I hope all is well asap.

(And congratulations on the new one!)
posted by she's not there at 3:09 AM on January 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the comments.

I was going to call the doctor in the morning, but I will try the number for the on-call doc now.

I have been giving the toddler Ibuprofen. He has had worse fevers in the past, so not too worried about him.

Quarantine will be challenging in our small house, but I guess we can barricade my wife and baby in our bedroom. Maybe have my mom come, not interact with me or toddler, and she can take food, etc to my wife.

Problem going somewhere else, is everyone is sick! My mother-in-law watched the toddler when we went to the hospital and she got sick while watching him. I had to come home from the hospital early to watch him. My parents came up and, unrelated, my dad came down with something and was puking and in bed all day (at a hotel). Our closest friends were going to help, but their toddler came down with croup. It's a bit of a mess. Other than the fact that we have a beautiful baby girl!
posted by crawfishpopsicle at 3:21 AM on January 4, 2013

Congrats on your new daughter! My kids are all teens now but it is a challenging time without the sickness thrown in. A wise mom told me many years ago when I was surrounded by babies and toddlers that this is what kids tv was for. There's nothing wrong with letting your sick one watch a few shows or a Disney movie (Dora? Handy Manny? Cars? I have no idea what they watch now) so 1) you can rest a little 2) to take his mind off the new sister who's taking up all his space. In a couple weeks you'll hit your groove.
posted by lasamana at 3:39 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Take the usual precautions of washing your hands before handling the baby, before handling food for your wife, wipe down door knobs and surfaces the toddler has touched. And for the most part don't let the toddler breathe on or touch the baby until better.

This would likely have freaked me out as well, but the best you can do is take reasonable precautions and monitor the situation.

It's also entirely possible your toddler has one of those weird few hour fevers with no other symptoms --- my son was notorious for getting a fever at 6 or 7 pm with it going up steadily until sometime around 10 or 11, and then out of nowhere his temperature would be perfectly normal again with no signs of a fever the next day. One of these times we even went to the ER over it because his temp had reached 103, which is my threshold for an underarm temperature. By the time we saw someone after triage, he was down to 98-99. No other symptoms and neither my husband or I got sick.
posted by zizzle at 4:12 AM on January 4, 2013

Maybe have my mom come, not interact with me or toddler, and she can take food, etc to my wife.

This sounds like a great idea.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:53 AM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just try and keep them separated as much as possible, wash everyone's hands often, by all means get your mom in if you can, and don't worry too much. Is the baby breastfeeding? If so you have another layer of protection. Congratulations on the new baby and I hope you can catch up on some sleep soon!
posted by Cuke at 4:57 AM on January 4, 2013

make sure you get some air in the house. a common problem in winter time is no fresh air in a house to dissipate germs.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:05 AM on January 4, 2013

And 101.5 isn't that bad, hopefully it's just something quick and mild for the big one.

It's going to be ok. Try your best to get some rest for you too! Being run down makes it easier for you to get sick too.

Congratulations on the new baby!
posted by dawkins_7 at 5:08 AM on January 4, 2013

It will be ok if you take basic precautions. But even if the baby gets sick, it will more than likely be ok. Your pediatrician will be able to help you with what to do if that happens.

You're exhausted and that makes your anxiety worse. Get rest if you can and just do your best.
posted by emjaybee at 7:35 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

101.5 isn't so bad, your toddler isn't particularly sick. My kid got higher fevers than that from teething.

My second child caught his first cold -- from, yes, his sick older sister -- when he was nine days old. It wasn't fun, but it was okay; we nursed him a lot and used the snot sucker a lot and it was a crummy couple of days, but he did get better. In the interests of full disclosure I will say that he has had ongoing respiratory problems ever since, but it's looking like those have a root cause that is utterly unrelated to that early cold.'

You are very tired and your protective instincts are very strong, as they should be. Do what you can to keep your little one as quarantined as possible, having your mom in is a good idea. But even if the baby does get exposed, or even sick, it is probably not as terrible as you're imagining.
posted by KathrynT at 9:26 AM on January 4, 2013

Brings back memories. My older son got sick a few days after we brought youngest home from the hospital. I remember being tired and panicked, and asking the midwife what to do. She said "newborns are surprisingly hardy." And he was. The baby did not get sick. (everyone else did, though).
posted by Badmichelle at 9:31 AM on January 4, 2013

Oh, so much to take on when you have a 4-day old! If you're breastfeeding, keep doing that as the baby gets immunity from the qualities in breastmilk. If not, the baby should still have some immunity from being in utero so recently.

I would not recommend keeping your 2yo away from the mom quite so much. If this feels traumatic to your 2yo - mom just brought home a new baby and is snuggling the baby all the time and doing what she used to do with me! - it might make the illness worse or result in behaviour challenges and so on. Instead, maybe you can take some time off and find a way to be with the 2yo as they lie on the sofa or what-have-you. And call your doctor and get some advice.

You'll get through this. 101.5F isn't that high and your newborn probably won't even get it, due to immunities mentioned above.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:44 AM on January 4, 2013

One other perspective - toddlers get sick all the time. When our kids went into day care it was probably 6 months worth of one thing after the other. Magically after that period our kids rarely get sick. I understand from friends that kids who do not attend daycare can often experience the same 6 months of immune system education during the first months of kindergarten.

I know the concern for a 4 day old, definitely try to keep them separated and try to keep the 2yo comfortable and disinfected as best you can - but realize that nature has done a great job at making both toddlers and new borns really robust and that getting sick is part of that process...
posted by NoDef at 11:01 AM on January 4, 2013

And please relax. You'll see the doctor in the morning, everything will be fine.
posted by mumimor at 12:31 PM on January 4, 2013

It's going to be okay, Papa!

Do keep Mama & newborn quarantined.

Do what you need to keep toddler feeling better, and make sure you're both washing hands regularly.

If you can get Grandma to come help, for the sake of your sanity, please do that.

Great that you're seeing the doc. They might tell you that toddler is fine and to just use common sense hygeine, but that's okay, too - being sure is better than wondering and worrying. And hopefully that will be all it is.

Rest whenever you can. You need to keep your own strength up, too.
posted by batmonkey at 2:07 PM on January 4, 2013

Look, in the event your newborn develops a fever you really need to get to the hospital as soon as humanly possible.

Fevers in newborns are highly unusual and can become quite serious quite quickly. I say this because our eldest son developed a fever a few days after birth, and it turned out to be sepsis (don't ask me how that happened).

He turned out fine, but it was a very serious situation with a more than 50% chance of not ending well (he beat the odds).

So, although it's unlikely, if your newborn shows signs of a fever, do whatever it takes to get to the hospital immediately.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:14 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for your caring replies. The toddler and I got some sleep and he was better in the morning. In the afternoon his fever spiked up to 102.5, but we have been doing a pretty good job of keeping him away from the baby/ washing hands. Other than his high temp, everyone is doing ok. He was actually a bit stoked cause he got to watch about 4 hours of cartoons...

Not sure if any of you will check this thread again, but it really meant a lot to me reading your comments. When I woke up and read through everything, I started crying. This wasn't the first time I have cried reading Metafilter over the past 8-9 years, but it was the most meaningful. Thank you for your help. I really needed my spirits lifted.

Side note, the close friend mentioned above actually read this post this morning! I didn't realize she was a daily MeFi reader (not too surprising as her husband was the one who introduced me to MeFi years ago)! They left their daughter with grandma today and brought us lunch and a bunch of frozen meals they had previously made for us. Mefi really lifted my spirits today. Thanks.
posted by crawfishpopsicle at 9:11 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

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