A: Thanks for writing in. I have nothing but empathy for parents of babies facing these hard decisions. There are many factors to consider, so let’s take a look at how to best approach this transition with your baby.
Let’s begin by acknowledging that hospitals, researchers, doctors and everyday people have come together in an unprecedented way to learn about and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus for the short time it has been in our lives. And although data is emerging daily, there is still much we don’t know.
When it comes to children and the coronavirus, according to the most recent data report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, children represent 14.1 percent of total virus cases in the United States. They make up about 1.4 percent to 3.2 percent of the total reported hospitalizations; between 0.1 percent to 1.9 percent of all child covid-19 cases resulted in hospitalization. According to the report: “At this time, it still appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare among children.”
No matter how rare among children it may be, kids are still affected, and they’re still getting sick. And so it all feels scary, doesn’t it? Before you panic, let’s look at an important statistic again: Children make up about 1.4 percent to 3.2 percent of the total reported coronavirus hospitalizations.
Any child who gets sick, seriously sick and/or dies is one too many, but the numbers are unquestionably on the low-risk side. Additionally, more and more people are getting vaccinated by the day, making it safer for every child to live more normally. When it comes to the in-home facility, be sure it’s following current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols, and don’t be afraid to ask all of your questions.
The pandemic has also turned into a mental health crisis for so many people, and Ann-Louise Lockhart, a pediatric psychologist and parent coach, recommends that you “consider the social-emotional piece, especially if this is the first time your child will be away from you. This might look like having your child go to child care for a couple of hours, then half-day, and then full day to get used to their new environment (and for you to adjust, too).”
Easing into this transition, allowing faces and places to become more familiar and giving yourself some grace will go a long way when it comes to this change.
Remember: You have spent all your time with your child while in a pandemic, so your mental health needs care and attention as you reenter the world.
You may experience a range of emotions (freedom, fear, etc.), so please get your support system in place. Your pediatrician, your own doctor, your friends, family, a good therapist — all of these people can support you in this new phase of your parenting life.