To Protect Your Baby from Germs Transmitted by Direct-Contact:
Direct-contact is by far the most common way to spread germs. Direct-contact requires some form of touch – such as brushing the hand of someone who is sick.
Hand-Washing: The most important and effective way to avoid direct-contact germs is regular hand washing. Make it a rule that anyone who handles your baby, yourself included, must wash their hands for at least 30 seconds with soap and warm water before doing so.
Since they can’t do it for themselves, be sure to regularly wash your baby’s hands as well, to remove any germs they picked up throughout the day. Be extra diligent after feedings, and after diaper changes.
Anti-Microbial Wipes: If you are away from running water for an extended period of time, carry disinfecting wipes with you to sterilize your hands before handling your baby. Wipes are better than liquid hand-sanitizers. Wiping with fabric helps scrub any remaining dirt from your hands, in addition to disinfecting germs.
Pets: Direct-contact is not limited to people. Germs are also transported by pets and other animals. These germs can be transferred to humans through direct-contact via petting, licking, scratching or bites.
If you have a pet in your family, check your records to ensure that their shots are up to date. Keep your newborn distanced from the pet for at least 6 weeks, by which time a baby’s immune system is stronger.
Discourage dogs and other pets from licking the baby. Keep litter boxes clean and out of reach. If you have an exotic pet, be sure to inquire with your doctor about any health risks to your baby. Turtles, for example, can carry the Salmonella bacteria.
Stranger Danger: Babies – particularly newborn babies, are extremely vulnerable to illnesses brought about by dangerous microbes. For this reason many experts recommend that for the first 6 weeks (while their immune system develops) you limit your baby’s interactions with new people.
When you have a newborn they can quickly become the center of attention. Everyone wants to hold, kiss or play with them. It is in your baby’s best interest, however, to limit the number of people engaging in direct-contact.
Ask potential visitors to delay their visits for 6 weeks, by which point your baby’s immune system is less frail. If this feels rude you may be more comfortable telling your friends that this advice came from your doctor.
When new people will handle your infant, ask that they not touch or kiss your baby’s face. Their face is the area most vulnerable to germs since a baby is most easily infected through their mouth, nose and eyes.
Siblings and Other Children: School aged children can carry some serious germs home from school and it is important to your newborn that you keep these germs away.
Prior to engaging in direct-contact with your newborn, first ensure that the school aged child has bathed and changed from their school clothes, and then washed their hands again.
When bathing is not practical, be extra vigilant in ensuring that the child has thoroughly washed their hands.
Coughs and Sneezes: Encourage siblings and visiting children to cough and sneeze into the fold of their elbow as this blockage helps reduce airborne germs. It’s an easy and fun trick for kids to remember, and is the preferred method in many public schools.