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Becoming a parent is life’s greatest joy, but the role is also filled with uncertainty. That could not be more true today as the world is faced with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. It has many parents wondering how they can best continue to ensure their children stay healthy and what to do if their child becomes ill. Here are some ways you can continue to support the physical and mental health needs of your children at this uncertain time.
Continue to attend your child’s well-visits: Pediatric well-visits are still essential to ensure your child has the best protection against other viruses and bacteria. Additionally, keeping your baby and well-child visits with their pediatrician ensures your child’s doctor is up-to-date on their vaccines and that they’re meeting developmental milestones.
Practice social distancing: It is recommended you keep your baby and children away from others during this pandemic. They can be in the home or outside for walks and play-time, but keep them at least 6 feet apart from neighbors and friends. Do not take them into the store with you if you can avoid it.
Teach proper handwashing skills: Show your child how to wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds – sing the ABCs or Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Hands should be washed frequently and always before eating. Hand sanitizer is safe to use on babies and children, however, it’s important to supervise your children during sanitizer use – make sure it is completely dry and don’t let you kids lick their hands immediately afterwards.
If your child is sick: If you think your child may have COVID-19, call your pediatrician’s office first prior to bringing them in. Most children will have a mild disease and can be managed over the phone and kept at home to recover. Our Texas Children’s Pediatrics practices are offering eHealth visits via video and phone for patients with COVID-19 symptoms and other conditions.
If one child is sick, you may try to quarantine that child to a separate part of the house, but this is difficult to do. It’s OK to have them around other household members if they are wearing a mask and practicing good hand washing. Make sure the rest of the family is washing their hands often and that you’re sanitizing all frequently touched surfaces often. Do not share food and utensils among family members. It may be best to have the sick child use a separate bathroom, if possible.
Support your child’s emotional wellbeing: How do we handle with the stress of social distancing with our children during the COVID-19 pandemic? It is human nature to be social beings. We encourage you to find digital ways to keep your connections with your family and friends through phone calls, texts, videos, FaceTime, etc. We still need support from others and smiles and laughter work wonders for our mental health. New parents in particular need support from families and friends. Set up a video chat for others to see and interact with your new baby. Emotional connections are important. If parents are feeling extreme stress or anxiety, reach out to your doctor or your child’s pediatrician for counseling resources. You will be better able to take care of your children if you are taken care of as well.
We know this is a challenging time to navigate for all families and we are here and ready to continue to care for your child and family.