How to Fight Germs and Protect Your Baby
Posted on 02 September 2016
Tips on protecting your newborn infant from germ bugs.
Friends and family and everyone in between are sure to be excited to meet and greet your new little one with touches, hugs and kisses and as a new parent, you may be concerned about germs. What can you do to protect your newborn?
Let's just start off by saying, that it's impossible for you to keep all germs away and you will drive yourself crazy if you try to do so. However, with that said, there are some things you can do to reduce the amount of germs your new baby comes in contact with. Don't worry, most of these are common sense and natural instinct and a little knowledge should help to put your mind at ease. First, a few facts about germs and babies.
Can Germs Actually Help Baby?
Being exposed to germs helps the immune system to be smarter and can actually help baby in the future. The human body is so amazing so when it's exposed to a virus for the first time, it must figure out how to defend itself and then the next time it will be prepared to fight that particular micro-organism helping to prevent that particular illness from happening again.
According to Robert W. Frenck Jr., MD, professor of pediatrics at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, exposure to germs can help build babies immunity but you don't need to expose baby unnecessarily as your baby will be exposed to germs naturally.
So what can you do to protect your little one without going crazy?
- Keep Baby Near You
The most harmful germs at this point to newborn babies is other people. Infants can become sick pretty easily since their immune system has not had time to build up. "Infections in small babies can be pretty serious," says Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, a pediatrician and author of Mommy Calls. It's recommended you protect your baby as much as possible from germs for the first 3 months up to six months of age, especially from benign organisms found in cold and flu viruses.
Try to limit the amount of visitor's, at least within the first few weeks of baby coming home. You should always wash your hands before handling baby and ask everyone who comes in contact with baby to do the same. If you are not comfortable with someone kissing baby, then say so politely...please no kisses (it's your baby so don't feel inhibited) or compromise and ask that touching and kissing be done on baby's feet, not hands or face. Ask anyone who might be sick or ill to stay away until they well again.
Back to school time is a concern when there are older siblings in the house. Returning to school around so many other children means being exposed to lots of new viruses so be especially adamant that through hand washing is a must before touching baby. It's recommend by the hand washing experts at Bradley Corporation that you rub for 15-20 seconds using soap and warm running water. Small children can be taught to sing the Happy Birthday song 2 times before rinsing.
- Avoid Populated Public Places
The last thing you need is strangers coughing or sneezing on your little one so try to stay clear of heavily trafficked or crowded areas as much as possible during the first 4-6 weeks. Children are especially good at spreading germs so try to avoid those little buggers while baby is still very brand new.
- Use Sanitizers
Keeping your house clean and carrying sanitizer with you for use in public places is always a great idea. Shopping carts have been proven to be especially germy since so many hands touch them constantly. Always wipe down any areas on cart baby might touch or use a cart cover to keep the germs at bay. Also, wipe down any public changing area before using and laying a receiving blanket or baby's changing mat first is always a good idea.
- Keep Bottles and Sippy Cups Clean
Sanitizing and sterilizing baby's bottles is extremely important. Follow all instructions on cleaning new pacifiers and bottles for first time use. Usually washing with warm soapy water or sterilizing in hot boiling water is recommended. Baby bottle sterilizer's can be purchased or requested on a baby registry from any baby department store.
Don't keep unused or left over formula as bacteria from baby's saliva and enzymes from baby's backwash can contaminate the milk. The same goes for baby food. Dipping into the food and then into baby's mouth can contaminate the whole jar so try adding a small portion to a baby bowl or dish so unused portions can be stored in the fridge safely for later.
Yuck Alert...Leftover sippy cups found under the cart seat after several months are best disposed of all together.
- Stay Up To Date on Baby's Immunizations
Making sure your baby has all of the available immunizations is super important to avoid serious illnesses. Always follow your pediatrician's recommend vaccine schedule.
- Follow Instructions Thoroughly for Prescribed Medications and Antibiotics
If your baby should become ill or sick, it's important to follow all instructions for prescribed medications. It's always important to finish all antibiotics to avoid antibiotic resistance.
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