Being the mother of a premature baby includes learning about germs. Not just anyone could enter the NICU, and we always had to wash hands before touching the little ones.

Ayla Guerra

One of the most important lessons is not to kiss or even touch someone else’s baby if you are sick – especially during the winter months.

Winter months are risky when it comes to babies catching RSV. RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) comes across as nothing more than a simple cold in adults. However, it is life-threatening in infants.

Unlike adults who have thriving immune systems, infants are in the process of building immune systems and have little defense against viruses.

Even now that we are home from the hospital, I make sure friends know not to kiss Ayla. If they want to hold her, they must wash their hands first.

Infants are already being exposed to so much. They’re learning faces and sounds and colors. Germs are a less-obvious kind of challenge, but the challenge remains.

Janna & Ayla Guerra

This is even more important for children who have had a prolonged hospital stay – like Ayla. Hospitalized children are already struggling to stay healthy without the added risk of catching a virus. Once they finally make it home, their bodies are still adjusting to new surroundings.

When Ayla was staying on the 5th floor of the Chapel Hill Children’s Hospital, I made friends with a mom who’s son was a door down from us. He was nearly a year old and had a heart transplant months before. He was immunosuppressed, meaning that his immune system had been deliberately discouraged from fighting off germs. The immunosuppression was to help his body accept the heart transplant. He had been in the hospital for 9 months when we met him.


Fortunately, they went home just a couple weeks before Ayla did. But to my dismay, they wound up back in the hospital in November due to RSV. Fortunately, they are back home now for the holidays.

As a NICU mom, I can speak from experience. Parents do NOT need to be spending excess time in the hospital if it can be avoided.

So please, wash your hands. Ask before touching a child. Stay away from children if you are feeling sick or that you are coming down with something. And for goodness’ sake…