As far as super paranoid mothers go, you can put me at the top of the list (I have at least 20 bottles of hand sanitisers at home). But in early March, when the COVID situation was starting to pick up, I still packed up and went on my first family holiday with my five-month old baby at the time. Even when people said to me, "You dare to bring baby out now?"
Yes, we went ahead. Not out of stubbornness. In fact, we were very careful to keep ourselves away from crowded places and to sanitise as much as we could throughout the trip.
We were scheduled to fly back to Malaysia on March 18, the first day of the Movement Control Order (MCO). Upon arrival, we were greeted by an eerily empty airport (shops were closed, not many lights were turned on and only few immigration officers were working). The Grab ride back home seemed sombre as we zoomed down the quiet highways.
Upon coming back from our trip, masks and hand sanitisers were our best friends. We washed our hands frequently and kept the baby in his stroller or baby carrier at all times. And of course, we stayed home.
Now, as the MCO is starting to become a bit more relaxed in its recovery phase, I think it's okay to bring the baby out.
BUT before you go and shoot me down, hear me out.
Do it in moderationI don't mean to bring my baby out every day to the shopping malls to leisurely stroll around. But I do think it's okay to bring the baby out to the park for a walk, or around the neighbourhood to get some fresh air.
It is also okay to bring the baby out to the mall if you really don't have much of a choice. Yes, though babies cannot wear masks, you can be vigilant as the parent, to avoid coming in close contact with others. Keep the stroller covered with a plastic cover so your baby can still see but there is less chance of wet particles travelling towards them.
If your baby or child is old enough to reach outside of their stroller to touch things, it's best to avoid letting them touch anything. But if they do, keep their hands sanitised and clean as we all know how much they like to put their hands into their mouths.
Like any responsible citizen should, continue to practice social distancing. Be sure to give the correct personal details when leaving your contact information at the mall. Should the need arise, contact tracing will be much easier this way.
Before touching your baby, wash and sanitise your hands again if you've been touching things inside the mall. Try not to touch the lift buttons with your fingers, instead use your elbow.
There are many ways for you to bring your child out now during this RCMO without having to compromise them.
- Don't bring your child to wet markets or crowded closed in areas.
- Bring them out for a drive.
- Take them to the beach now that domestic travel is allowed again. Some outdoors would do them good.
- If both you and your partner need to go out, consider taking turns to get down from the car while the other stays in the car with the baby.
- Continue to read up on the news to keep up to date on hotspots for the virus, and actively keep away from those places.
- Doctors appointments should be scheduled as much as possible to avoid contact with too many people.
- Bring your own hand sanitisers instead of using the ones given at malls.
- Bring your own pen and avoid touching as many "shared" items as possible.
- Try not to use the mall facilities like nappy changing rooms during this time. Instead limit your time out to an hour or two at the maximum so you can change your baby's nappies at home or in the car.
It is not realistic for parents without help to never go out. What about single mothers who have no choice but to bring their babies anywhere?
Before you are too quick to judge, consider that some parents don't have much choice. Let's go easy on each other and help each other out during these hard times instead.
*These opinions reflect those of the author.
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This article originally appeared on The Asian Parent