Interactions with Others

Siblings, Fathers, and Pets

Young siblings of a newborn may feel some resentment toward the new arrival. Not only does mom fix her attention on the baby and expect an older child to take care of himself, but there is the fear of being replaced by the baby. It is important to bring the older child in to help with the newborn so that he feels part of the team and gets to bond with the baby. It is also crucial for parents to spend time alone with the older child away from the baby to let him know that he is still important and not being replaced.

Dad can also feel left out at times. It is important to bring Dad in as much as possible to feed, change diapers, and hold the baby. His help will also allow mom some time to rest or be with the older child.

Pets can act very much like older siblings when a new baby comes home. However, they adjust rapidly and soon accept the baby and can become very protective. The American Kennel Club offers some good advice on introducing your dog to your new baby.

Clothing and Getting Out of the House

It is okay to take the baby outside in reasonable weather. Babies do not always need to be bundled heavily, inside or out; however, their heads should be covered when outside. If you need heavier clothing when going outside, the baby does also.

Generally speaking, a baby needs one layer of clothing more than what you need as an adult.

Too many people handling the baby exposes him unnecessarily to many germs and viruses. Those who do handle the baby should wash their hands frequently as viruses are passed by fingertips more than by coughing or breathing on the baby.

To minimize exposure to germs if you decide to go out to a coffee shop, restaurant or store, keep your baby in their car seat and loosely drape a blanket over top so that you can still see and check on them, or strap them into a baby carrier on your chest. Just be careful as you sip your hot coffee.

Bringing Home a Newborn during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Please visit our sister page specific to this topic.

We also recommend checking this CDC page for the most recently updated guidelines, which includes topics like how to care for your newborn at home if you test positive for or have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Smoking Around Babies

  • Children are very sensitive to any irritants in the air. They may develop nasal congestion, runny nose, coughing or wheezing. The congestion may lead to ear or lung infections.
  • Even occasional smoking in the house may be enough to cause trouble.
  • The healthiest thing for your baby is for all smokers who care for the baby to quit.
  • As this is often a process and not easily accomplished, smoking in the meantime should be done outside and always with smoking clothes and hats that can be taken off before coming back in the home.
  • Smoke often lingers on the clothes, in the hair and under the finger nails, so hands and face should be washed after smoking.
  • Smoking in a bedroom with the door closed and window open still puts babies and children at risk because the smoke can get into the heating/AC ducts.
  • Smoking in the home is one of the greatest risk factors for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
  • Smoking in a car with anyone under 15 years old is illegal in Virginia.
  • For more information on quitting smoking, talk with your doctor, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or visit