Friday, February 24, 2006

Keeping Baby From The Germs

Germs can be rough. As some areas of the country are being inundated with the flu, others are just seeing the beginning. While you cannot protect your baby against all germs, there are some simple steps you can take to be sure that you are doing everything you can to keep your home clean for your little one.

First you need to be sure that everyone in your house washes her or his hands regularly. While the baby cannot be responsible for washing up, you can make sure that you keep him or her wiped up. Even babies of a few months old can touch things, such as their toys or little noses, that can have germs. Be sure that you wash your hands anytime you blow your nose or when you are going to be touching baby.

Many people these days are starting to brush little teeth before they even break the surface. Certainly if you have an older baby who already has teeth, you are likely brushing them. That is great, but toothbrushes can be a big source for germs. Most families allow the toothbrushes to touch each other in a small toothbrush holder. That means that if one person gets sick, that person passes his or her germs along to everyone in the family.

Babies are especially susceptible to germs, so you should change the toothbrush that baby uses at least once a month. They are cheap (and cost much less than a visit to the doctor), so stock up. Anytime baby gets sick, you should plan to change the brush as soon as the little one feels better.

Baby toys are a wonderful place for germs to hide. They are likely to be in cloth toys in particular. Since those toys are the best for baby because their soft texture makes them easy for little fingers, you should make it a point to wash the toys frequently. Cloth toys can be tossed into the washing machine on the gentle cycle and should be washed at least every two weeks or whenever another child has played with them.

Plastic or harder toys can be wiped down fairly frequently as well. Take the toys baby plays with and wipe them with a warm cloth when baby is done. Leave them out on a cloth to dry so that they will not mildew. If a toy has major germs, because it is the one baby wanted when sick for instance, then you should consider washing it in a mixture of four parts water to one part bleach. Be sure that you give it a good rinse with only hot water when you are done or toss it in the dishwasher if it will hold up.

You should be careful to bundle up the little one when you go out. Make sure that the baby is kept warm and be sure that others stay as far away as they can. I was appalled when my son was about two months old. We went to the grocery store and this little girl with a runny nose wanted to come over and touch the baby. Her mom was going to let her!

I explained that he was still very little and scared and dodged the situation, feeling badly about it. Now, I do not have that feeling anymore! He is my little guy, and it is my responsibility to protect him. Do not be afraid to tell other people that you would prefer they not touch or kiss your baby. You can avoid direct confrontation by saying that he has been sick and you would like to keep him away from everyone. You can pretend to be in a hurry. Do whatever you have to do but be sure that you keep others away as much as you can. It is unfortunate that babies are such a magnet for old ladies and little kids because they need to be protected from germs more than others.

Remember that if your little one does get sick, it is not the end of the world. All will be okay. You just need to be prepared to give a little extra pampering and a few more hugs and kisses.

By Julia Mercer

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