Even though safer-at-home orders have been lifted in some places, COVID cases are climbing, up, up. That means you have to think twice— and thrice— before running errands. And, you’ll want to think four times before bringing your kiddo along for the ride.
Before you travel with your tot in tow, ask yourself, “is this errand very important? Is it risky?” The more crowded the outing, the more confined your destination, the longer you’ll need to be there…the more coronavirus risk you’ll run into. (For example, dipping into a spacious bank to quickly deposit a check will be less risky than waiting in line at a cramped pharmacy). Of course, there may be times when it’s simply not possible to leave your child at home.
When you—and your side-kick—absolutely must venture out, here are some ways to stay safer:
Use delivery or curbside services when available.
If your supermarket or pharmacy doesn’t offer delivery, they may have done several other things to make shopping safer during COVID. For example, a local restaurant or shopping center might have a contact-free pickup option (in some places, they’ll put your order in your trunk, so you don’t have to physically interact with anyone!). And utilize the drive-through when you can. (Bonus: For toddler parents all of these alternatives also mean fewer car-seat battles!)
Run errands during off hours.
Try to pick a low-traffic day and time to run your errands. More people will likely be out and about on weekends or at the end of the workday, so consider a mid-week, midday trip instead. Don’t hesitate to ask the experts—the store and bank clerks or other employee—for their advice.
Keep at least 6 feet from others.
By keeping your distance, you make it harder for airborne germs (from, say, a fellow shopper’s sneeze) to get to you. If your tot is likely to wander, keep her strapped to you—or in a stroller— during your errands so that you can keep her close to you…and away from others.
Mask up before you move out.
The CDC has recommended that everyone over the age of 2 wear a face covering in public spaces. That’s to keep your sneezes and cough from forming a cloud of tiny aerosol junk in the air and to protect you from the “cloud” coming from the 20 people who are in the store with you. Masks trap these droplets coming out of your mouth and keep us from breathing in germs other people expel.
Bring hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Use it on your hands and your child’s hands before and after your errands—and definitely after you come in contact with high-touch surfaces, like the shopping cart or door handles.
Skip the waiting room.
For healthcare appointments and other errands that involve a waiting room, make arrangements to wait in your car until the receptionist calls you.
Dr. Harvey Karp is a world-renowned pediatrician and child development expert. His celebrated Happiest Baby/Happiest Toddler books and videos have guided millions of parents and are translated into 30 languages. In 2016, Dr. Karp debuted SNOO Smart Sleeper, a new class of responsive infant bed designed to add 1-2 hours to a baby’s sleep, quickly soothe crying and to improve safety by preventing dangerous rolling. SNOO won the National Sleep Foundation Innovation of the Year award as well as 20 other top national and international honors. Medical studies are underway to evaluate SNOO’s potential to reduce postpartum depression, infant sleep death and to improve the care of infants withdrawing from opiates. Dr. Karp is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the USC School of Medicine and a fellow of the AAP. He is an advocate for children’s environmental health and a board member of EWG, whose mission is to protect our nation’s public health and the environment.
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