Washing your hands makes a big difference! Scrub up after changing baby’s diaper, using the bathroom or handling dirty clothes and tissues, and wash well before holding or feeding your baby. Insist (nicely!) that visitors do the same. You can even keep a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer next to the couch so would-be baby holders can take a pump easily. (Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are fine in a pinch, but a good soap-and-water scrub is still probably best -- research shows that hand sanitizers don’t necessarily decrease the number of colds you catch). But toss the antibacterial soap: Using it can actually increase the number of antibiotic-resistant diseases.
Pay attention to the cleanliness of common household surfaces and toys as well, especially if other family members have been sick. “RSV, a common respiratory virus, can live on surfaces for a number of hours. Rotavirus, a gastrointestinal bug, can live on objects for a week to two weeks,” says Debbie Thompson, a pediatric nurse practitioner with Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. Use disinfectant or a bleach-water solution (1 tablespoon of bleach to every gallon of water) to wipe down door handles, phones and TV remotes. Clean baby toys in the dishwasher or soak them in the bleach-water.