When you imagined introducing your newborn baby to the world, you probably pictured family gatherings and visitors, not lockdown and social bubbles.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t proudly share the joy of your newborn with friends and loved ones.
Find out how to create positive memories, while keeping everyone safe as things slowly switch to a new normal.
Due to give birth soon? Find out everything you need to know about postnatal appointments
Meeting via video call
Although it’s not the same as a real-life family gathering, video calls are the new way to get together and share precious first moments.
There are different apps and devices you can use for video calling, including FaceTime, Google Duo and WhatsApp, depending on whether you’re using a smartphone, tablet, laptop or other smart tech to keep in contact.
Find out more in: 5 ways tech can help you stay in touch with friends and family.
There have been concerns raised about the safety of two group video calling apps – Houseparty and Zoom (Video calling: are Houseparty and Zoom safe to use) – so if you’re anxious, you might want to use one of the other group video apps.
For the sake of security when using a web video conferencing service or a video calling app, where possible:
- Set a secure password.
- Lock your meeting and make your meeting name difficult to guess.
- Apply multi-factor authentication if available. Find out everything you need to know about two-factor authentication and why it’s secure.
Whichever app or service you use, make sure you’ve downloaded the latest security updates for whichever tech device you are using.
Making the most of video calls with baby and loved ones
Tanith Carey, co-author of ‘What’s My Child Thinking: Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents’ (DK), says: ‘Although your family will miss your baby’s smell and touch, modern technology means you can still help them develop a strong bond with family members while you are apart.’
Look out for signs your baby is listening and communicating, like waving their arms or gurgling. Even if they don’t yet recognise relatives, emotional bonds between baby and loved ones will still be forming.
Here are Tanith’s five tips for getting the most from your video calls:
- Little and often is best. ‘If a baby only sees another family member once a week it could take between six to nine months to recognise them,’ says Tanith. ‘But the process will be quicker if they see them every day.’ Give relatives a regular slot, even if it’s only five minutes a day to read to the baby from the same baby book that you’ve got at home.
- Record some of what’s going on. This is the perfect time to gather relatives’ ‘oral history’ stories that even you’ve never heard before!
- Don’t be self-conscious. ‘Babies love to communicate with anyone who’s interested in them,’ says Tanith, ‘so tell family members not to feel self-conscious about talking or singing songs, even when a baby isn’t talking back yet.’
- Manage expectations of relatives and friends. Relatives may be in a rush for your baby to look at them or smile on screen, but it will take a few months before babies start to recognise anyone online. Tanith says: ‘That’s because babies take a while to develop eyesight and they have to learn to focus their eyes and interact with the world.’
- Don’t expect much early on. Babies don’t begin to follow moving objects on a screen or reach for things until around three months old. Tanith says: ‘Also, it’s not until six months that they’re able to tell when a person on a screen is interacting directly with them in real time rather than just passive screen images they would see on TV.’
Meeting ‘in person’
As lockdown restrictions start to loosen, you can meet up outside with up to six people from different households – and children count towards the group of six, as confirmed to us by the Cabinet Office.
This is as long as you remain outdoors (including in a private garden, as long as you don’t then go inside except to use the toilet if necessary) and follow social distancing guidelines.
You can also create a ‘social bubble’ with one other household, but you can’t ‘chop and change’ between different households).
Five things to check before face-to-face interaction
- Public transport is still to be avoided where possible, so if you’re going in your car you’ll need one or a combo from our picks of the best travel system pushchairs, best baby car seats or best slings and carriers.
- Newborn babies shouldn’t spend longer than 20 minutes in a car seat, while for babies over six months it increases slightly to 30 minutes.
- If you’re taking your baby on a walk, you’ll want a from-birth or travel system pushchair suitable for newborns or a sling or a carrier.
- Newborn babies should ideally be in a carrycot if you plan to push them for long periods of time, as they are most comfortable and safe for your baby.
- Don’t forget to bring something to take pictures with in lieu of a professional newborn photo shoot. See our pick of the best cameras, smartphone cameras and printers to help you capture those precious moments.
Getting to grips with being a new parent
You may well be wishing you had your ‘dream team’ of close friends and family at your side in the early days of parenting.
But experts say that concentrated time with your baby may prove beneficial in the long run.
A 2020 study* found that babies are most relaxed when being cuddled by a parent and had a slower heart rate during hugs from parents compared with hugs from a stranger, even at four months old.
Tanith says: ‘Being cocooned at home with your baby during lockdown, possibly with less pressure to be somewhere or do anything except care for your child, means you’ll probably have had some very special one-to-one with your baby, which is exactly what babies need, to attach to you.’
Need extra help?
The NCT (National Childbirth Trust) is running Early Days postnatal courses online, and Which? has plenty of information on feeding your baby if that’s one of your concerns.
Even in times of coronavirus, there are systems in place to ensure you get the help you need.
Read our advice on:
* Yoshida et al., Infants Show Physiological Responses Specific to Parental Hugs, iScience (2020).