It’s a germy world out there, and babies are intent on exploring every inch of it — especially with their mouths. Though this is normal and healthy for your child’s development, it also exposes them to viruses and bacteria that can make them sick. It’s impossible to eliminate all germs, but you can help defend your baby against these microscopic enemies by taking common-sense precautions.
Hooray for Handwashing
Infectious diseases are easily spread through touch. Babies and toddlers can pick up germs on their hands and quickly transfer them to their eyes, mouth, and other surfaces. Washing your baby’s or toddler’s hands several times a day can limit this exposure. When shopping at the mall or going out to eat, pack alcohol-free sanitizing hand wipes that are safe for children.
Clean on Their Level
Kids adore crawling on floors, and sometimes they enjoy snacking off them too. Don’t overlook low places when you clean, especially in the kitchen. One 2007 study found that salmonella bacteria can live on dry surfaces for four weeks! Disinfect and wipe floors down once a day, or as often as you can.
Your child’s toys get around, going from their mouth to the ground, in a friend’s hands, and maybe even into the dog’s mouth, too. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends both cleaning and sanitizing toys to remove dirt as well as germs. Solid, plastic toys like teething rings and rubber building blocks can easily be cleaned in the sanitize cycle of your dishwasher, and plushy items can go in the washing machine. You can also soak toys for several minutes in a solution of soap, water, and 3% hydrogen peroxide, which is less toxic than bleach or ammonia.
Clean toys when they are visibly dirty, after your baby has been sick, or if you’ve had other kids visiting. Take extra care to wash pacifiers and teething toys regularly.
You don’t need to wage war against all germs or live in a bubble to protect your family. These three simple measures will go a long way toward preventing illness.