Listening to advertisers of cleaning and sanitation products, you might come to believe that the world is a very dangerous and dirty place, full of agressive bacteria waiting to attack your, and your baby’s, health.
While expecting a baby, our existing fear of infection is carefully fed by manufacturers of antibacterial soap and hand gel.
Of course it is important to practise hygiene while taking care of your newborn. Being born is quite a shock for your little one; he was in paradise, never hungry or cold, until birth. Now he needs to take care of his own temperature and milk intake. That alone costs a lot of energy. Combine that with the fact that his digestive system isn’t fully ‘ripe’ yet, and anyone can see that it is a clever idea to wash your hands frequently around an infant. But normal hygiene is more than enough when taking care of a healthy, full term baby.
There is absolutely no need for antibacterial soaps and other strong desinfectants. On the contrary; there is scientific evidence that a very clean environment makes our babies more sensitive to allergies and increases the risk of asthma.
Your little one needs to adjust to the bacteria in her home environment as soon as possible. This will strengthen her immune system!
What is normal hygiene?
Wash your hands with soap;
- before taking care of your newborn
- before breastfeeding
- after changing a diaper
- before preparing food , for you or your baby
- before a meal
- after using the bathroom
Change kitchen and bathroom towels frequently;
A damp cloth is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Wash towels and cleaning- or dishclothes on a high temperature progam (60 degrees Celcius) and don’t throw them damp in between your other dirty laundry.
Use clean water;
In the Netherlands, the water is filtered so well, that we don’t even have to boil it before preparing formula milk with it. But this differs per country. Listen to the advise of your health care providers, rather than the TV commercials. In some countries, water needs to be boiled before using it, in other countries it also needs to be filtered. Or they tell you to use bottled water.
Ventilate the room every day;
Stale air, with a lot of water damp and little oxygen in it, is a perfect breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. Plus, it is hard to heat a damp room, while fresh air lets your heater do its work properly. While ventilating, make sure that your little one is in another room, to avoid losing a lot of body warmth by exposure to draft. Especially during the first weeks, babies don’t have a lot of fat tissue for insulation yet, so be careful.
When having a cold, use paper tissues to clean your nose and wash your hands very frequently;
Hands are the biggest source of infection, we touch our nose and right after that, we shake somebody else’s hand, or touch our baby… On the other hand, don’t panic if your 5 months old baby catches a cold; overcoming this annoying but harmles cold helps your little one to develop a strong immune system!
While above level of hygiene is sufficient for healthy full term babies, more drastic hygiene regimes have to be followed if your baby was born ill or premature – The hospital will tell you what to do. The immune system of an ill or premature baby isn’t up to its tasks yet. Once your baby gets better or stronger, you can slowly let go of the extra hygiene.
When it comes to soap, I have a preference for organic and gentle products. My hands get dry enough as it is, with all the hand washing I do on a regular work day! A bar of soap is fine, but I like a soap dispenser more. At home I have a big container of organic liquid lavender soap, to refill all the dispensers. This way I save money on an excellent product. I am also a fan of organic olive oil soap. What is your favorite soap?
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”