Disclaimer: Devoted Grandma is reader-supported. If you purchase anything through my site, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you). It helps keep the site alive, so thank you.
When you discover you will be a grandma, whether for the first time or again, you feel that time is standing still and that 40 weeks is turning into 40 years. When the moment finally arrives for the baby to make their grand arrival, you feel as though you could burst from all of the anticipation and excitement. But wait… you aren’t allowed to even see the baby after it’s born? What? Why?
If you find yourself in this seemingly heartbreaking situation, you may be an outsider in “cocooning,” a controlled environment around the child where exposure to potential pathogens is significantly reduced. Whether you are just hearing of this new way of parenting for the first time or are experiencing it with your own adult children, I have put together this handy grandma guide explaining what cocooning is, why parents do it, and how you can survive in the meantime:
What is “cocooning”?
Cocooning, or a “baby cocoon,” is a newer practice that has been picking up steam since the discovery of Covid-19. The purpose of cocooning is the protect newborns, infants, and younger children from harmful germs, diseases, and potential infections by creating a controlled environment around the child where exposure is significantly reduced.
While every family’s practices differ from the last, cocooning may include limiting visits from friends and family, rigorous hand hygiene, and ensuring up-to-date vaccinations for anyone interacting with the child. In the case of newborns, cocooning often involves limiting the baby’s exposure to public places and large gatherings.
Why new parents may choose to “cocoon”
There are many reasons for new parents to choose to cocooning, the top five being:
- Immune System Development: Newborns have underdeveloped immune systems that need time to mature and become more effective at fighting off infections. By cocooning, parents help protect their baby during this critical period of immune system development.
- Vaccine Schedules: Most vaccines aren’t given to babies until they’re at least two months old, and full immunity from many vaccines isn’t achieved until a baby has received several doses, typically by the age of one or two years.
- Avoidance of Illness: A newborn getting a common cold or flu can have serious consequences and can easily escalate into more severe illnesses like pneumonia.
- Peace of Mind: The anxiety and stress of protecting a newborn can be overwhelming. Cocooning can provide parents with peace of mind knowing that they are doing their best to keep their baby safe.
- Bonding Time: Cocooning also allows for uninterrupted bonding time between the baby and the parents, which can be very beneficial for the baby’s development and for establishing breastfeeding if chosen by the mother.
How to support (and survive) cocooning
I won’t sugarcoat it: Waiting to hold – let alone meet! – that new bundle of joy is excruciating, especially when the baby is here and within reach. The key here is patience. Remember that this isn’t forever and that you must respect your children’s wishes.
To support your grandchildren’s parents – and to pass the time – you can also:
- Respect Their Wishes: This might be different from what we’re used to, but it’s all about keeping the baby safe. Let the parents know that you understand and respect their decision to cocoon.
- Stay Connected Virtually: In this digital age, thank goodness for video calls! Set up regular times to virtually visit your grandchild because seeing that little face on screen can be just as heartwarming.
- Drop Off Meals: Remember when your adult child was little, and you’d make their favorite dish? Now’s the time to whip up those meals and drop them off. They’ll appreciate the help, and you’ll feel great knowing you’re lending a hand.
- Share Stories Over the Phone: Share those cherished family tales over the phone with the new parents. Trust me, they’ll love hearing about when they were babies themselves!
- Offer to Run Errands: Offer to help with grocery shopping, picking up diapers, or any other errands.
- Stay Up-to-date with Vaccinations: Ensuring that you’re up-to-date on your vaccines not only protects you but also reduces the chance of passing anything onto the baby when you finally get to visit in person.
- Learn About Online Shopping for Baby: There are so many cute baby items online these days, so send a little surprise gift to the baby now and then.
- Share Your Support and Encouragement: This time can be tough for new parents, and a simple message saying “You’re doing a great job” can mean the world to them.
- Plan for Future Visits: Talk to the parents about when and how they’ll be comfortable with in-person visits. Having a plan can give everyone something to look forward to!
Remember, this cocooning phase is temporary. Before you know it, you’ll be having those cuddles and precious grandma-baby time. In the meantime, take these steps as opportunities to show your love and support in different ways. It takes a village to raise a child, and believe me: you’re a vital part of that village!