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Concerns among parents of pandemic babies are not totally unfounded, according to research from the University of Southern California. Although the long-term effects of COVID-19 have yet to be seen, it’s likely that it would have made an impact on the cohort in utero during the pandemic. Infants were exposed to maternal infection, stress, and potentially disrupted prenatal care during this time, which can follow them throughout their lives.

There is another less obvious effect of the pandemic on child development as well. The social distancing measures during COVID-19 can stunt a child’s social progress and limit opportunities for their growth. With toddlers and babies continuing to stay at home, they may not be getting the cognitive and social stimulation they would normally get outside. Experts have observed how young children are increasingly delayed in speech and language, while they struggle with social skills like sharing or being in groups. If you want to socialize your baby safely during COVID-19, here are some tips to consider:

Find the right time to socialize your baby

study published by the Society for Research in Child Development suggests that parents pay more attention to developmental timing and unfolding developmental trajectories during the pandemic. The first 1000 days — from conception to the child’s second birthday — are the most important for physical and mental development; this period determines countless factors in adulthood, and is crucial for learning.

If your baby is less than six months old, it’s best to limit their primary engagement with parents, siblings, and other caregivers who live in the same “bubble”. Immediate family members can model social interactions for babies, and they can apply these skills for later in life. Purely social visits from relatives, neighbors, and family friends are the riskiest for newborns who are susceptible to everything in their environment, so these should happen only when the baby has a stronger immune system at around two or three months old.

Consult with a medical professional

Early on the pandemic, most children that fell sick with COVID-19 were kids with other illnesses or comorbid conditions. The Delta variant, however, has sent young children without comorbid conditions to the hospital. CNN reports that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that an average of over 340 pediatric COVID-10 patients were admitted to hospitals daily in mid-September. So it’s crucial to talk to a medical professional on how to best keep your baby safe for socialization.

Your first point of contact will likely be a trained nurse. According to Maryville University’s doctor of nursing practice program, these nurses undergo specialized training in pediatrics and family medicine. Their education in the promotion, assessment, and diagnosis of children’s health from birth to young adulthood allows them to make smart recommendations based on their experience. Nursing professionals can advise you on when it’s appropriate to let your child wear a mask, or which vaccines they should get to build up their immunity against the virus.

Go outdoors and start small

Once you feel like your baby is ready to meet more people, you can suggest a walk outside on a nice day — it’s easier to spread out and let the air particles travel this way. Ensure all grownups keep their masks on, and stay six feet apart because your little one can’t mask yet.

Ideally, you should acclimate your baby slowly through limited exposure. They’re likely to get overwhelmed, so big gatherings and close physical contact are a no-no. Ease them into social situations around new people and in new settings. You can also use this time to practice being apart from them; enlist a responsible family member to watch over the infant so they can learn that they’re loved and cared for, even if they’re not with their parents.

Children are resilient, and parents have to trust their babies can adapt to the challenges of the world they’ll grow up in. In the meantime, parents — especially mothers of newborns — should take care of themselves. Have fun at virtual gatherings and whip up our Summer Mocktail recipes to de-stress. For quality baby products or more tips on raising children, check out the BabyDoppler shop and blog pages today.

Author Bio: Rian Jenkins is a part-time writer and a full-time mother of two sons. When she’s not researching for her pieces on parenthood, you can find her playing catch with her boys in their backyard garden.

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About Mithu Kuna

Mithu is a tech-savvy entrepreneur. He is a founder of Baby Doppler and enjoys incorporating AI driven technology in baby and maternity IoT devices.

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