Photo Credit: Gettty Images
Baby in Residence
Give your baby's room special attention by washing down the changing table, crib or bassinet with a bleach solution (one tablespoon of regular household bleach to one quart of water). Allow items to air dry for at least 30 seconds. You may dry them with a paper towel if needed.
Before you put clean sheets on the crib or bassinet, be sure you've washed all linens with a hypoallergenic laundry soap. The same goes for all other linens, washcloths, towels, clothes '- anything that will come in contact with your baby's skin.
Once you've brought your baby home, try to vacuum at least once a week. Use an air purifier fitted with a HEPA filter. These "high efficiency particle arresting" filters capture bacteria, pollen, mold spores, dust mites and animal dander. (An added plus: The purifier provides comforting white noise to soothe your baby to sleep.)
When it comes to passing around your precious bundle, don't feel bad about keeping eager visitors at bay until they've washed their hands for at least 15 seconds. Provide antibacterial soap and offer paper towels for hand drying to avoid cross-contamination. Hand washing is the single most important defense in preventing infections from bacteria and common viruses.
Most common illnesses, colds, flu and stomach viruses are transmitted by sneezing and coughing, which cast water droplets into the air, and by failing to wash hands after nose blowing, coughing or sneezing, or using the rest room. Visitors touch the baby and mother directly and touch telephones, doorknobs, etc., so insisting on hand washing is a wise and reasonable request.
Bottles, Nipples, Pacifiers
To keep germs at bay, wash these in hot soapy water after each use, or put them in the top rack of the dishwasher. Avoid putting your baby's pacifier in your own mouth or allowing siblings to share bottles or pacifiers.
Out and About
If you're planning on breastfeeding your baby, you'll be able to count, to some degree, on the protective immunity that is passed through breast milk. Antibodies, too, are passed to your baby through the bloodstream during birth. Even so, it's best for your baby to avoid crowds and public places like malls for the first six weeks. However, you both can '- and should! '- escape for some fresh air. However, remember to dress your baby appropriately. Keep her snuggled close to your chest in a front carrier to discourage strangers from touching her. Or, if your baby is in a stroller, drape a blanket over the top '- not to block germs, but, again, to discourage strangers from bringing their hands close to your baby's face.
Under the Weather, Mom?
It happens: Moms get sick too. It will be pretty difficult to decrease contact with your baby, especially if you're breastfeeding, so wash your hands with an antibacterial soap frequently, and always after changing the baby's diapers, using the rest room or blowing your nose. Do not stop breastfeeding and be sure to take care of yourself, get lots of rest and drink plenty of liquids.