Washing Hands: The Biggest Germ Carriers
Dr. Diane Truong, pediatrician and partner of online baby skin-care retailer MD Moms, says babies are most likely to get germs from older children. In families with multiple ages, older kids contract germs at school and bring them home, sharing with their younger siblings through two different ways -- respiratory and direct contact. Older siblings transfer germs to younger siblings by coughing, sneezing, or kissing them. Or they come in direct contact with germs and pass them on to babies by touching them or playing with them before washing their hands. Tell older children to kiss Baby on top of her head or on the bottoms of her feet, but stay away from the face. Germs transfer mainly through a baby's nasal, mouth, and eyes.
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Washing Hands: Sanitizers vs. Wipes
In the absence of water, Dr. Levenstein doesn't recommend using instant hand-sanitizers. They use alcohol to kill germs, and since kids always put their hands in their mouths, especially in the thumb-sucking stage, they aren't safe to use. Instead, use wipes such as the cleansing towelettes to get rid of germs. Wipe their hands for 20-30 seconds until dry to ensure no alcohol is left for them to ingest. Dr. Truong says wipes work twice as well as gels: The friction of mechanical cleaning actually wipes the dirt and germs off the skin, plus the chemical ingredients in the wipes reduce the germ count.
Bathing Your Baby: Lightly Cleanse
Dr. Levenstein says young babies have thin, delicate skin that deserves to be cleansed, not belt-sanded. To avoid germs, babies need only to be bathed every two or three days to prevent stripping them of their natural lubricants and oils. To protect natural oils, use a gentle cleanser on Baby's soft skin instead of harsh soap. As babies get older and find ways to get dirtier, though, more frequent bathing is necessary to avoid rashes and germs.
Bathing Your Baby: Moisturize
Skin is a protective barrier, Dr. Truong says. Chafing lets germs in more easily, so during wintertime, make sure Baby is well-moisturized as a preventative measure. Use a gentle moisturizing lotion or balm.
Cleaning Your House: Build Tolerance
For a child to successfully fight off germs and develop fewer allergies, she needs to build her immune system's tolerance. Dr. Levenstein says that means letting germs colonize your baby's nose and throat. Let her sit on the ground and get her body used to fighting off germs. Keep your house clean, but you don't need to sterilize it. Babies' bodies need to get used to being around everyday germs. If you sterilize, they won't be able to deal with germs as well. Germs can make you sick, but some actually help you. It's important to find a balance between being paranoid and being smart.
Cleaning Your House: Surface Cleaning
With the heightened concern about H1N1 and flu season in general, Dr. Levenstein says there's a greater concern for keeping surfaces clean. Influenza hits young children harder, so it's important to be vigilant and aware. When cleaning the house, use low-alcohol wipes for surfaces rather than spray. Sprays are volatile and get into your baby's nose and mouth. When you're on the road, cleansing towelettes such as the ones used for a baby's bottom double as quick solutions to degerm shopping cart handles and other everyday germ vessels. Dr. Truong says antibacterial wipes can decrease a lot of the bacteria and microbes on surfaces you always touch, such as door knobs and toilet handles, plus they reduce the spread by other people who touch those objects. A little fresh air also helps take care of a buildup of germs in general around the house.
Dr. Levenstein says the most important thing to do when sending your child off to a playdate is communicate with the other parent. Make sure they're taking them to safe places and plan on washing everyone's hands before meals. As a last resort, pack hand wipes for your child to take. If you just want to be sure your kid is protected, it never hurts to send sanitizing wipes along -- it's better to be safe than sorry. Also, double-check to be sure you're not making playdates with kids who are already sick. Dr. Truong says kids are most contagious before signs of symptoms.
Dr. Levenstein suggests avoiding germ-infested places such as the kids activity gym in the mall and won't have control over what they touch or when and what they eat. Hanging out at someone's house or going to a park can be just as fun and can avoid germs at the same time. Also, have playdates in small groups to decrease the spread of germs. Stay away from activities that combine sharing and eating.
Playdates: The Elbow Sneeze
Avoid the respiratory spread of germs by teaching kids to cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow. Dr. Truong says many schools have begun teaching the technique in the classroom. She says she's impressed by how many of her younger patients come into her office already knowing how.
Courtesy of MD Moms
Meet MD Moms
Dr. JJ Levenstein and Dr. Diane Truong, pediatricians and moms, started MD Moms to create a skin-care line just for babies. The ingredients are high-quality and hypoallergenic, so they're safe for young skin. The skin-care line is small and tailored so patients can easily find what they need without searching through a million different brands and options. They have everything from baby sunscreen to body wash, balms, and powders -- everything a mom needs to keep Baby happy and healthy.
Recommended Products: Dr. J.J. Levenstein and Dr. Diane Truong both highly recommend MD Moms Baby Silk Cleansing Towelettes. They're gentle and effective enough to use all over Baby's body. Alcohol-free, the wipes are a blend of marine silk, vitamins E and B5, organic aloe, and comfrey. These ingredients provide moisturizing and antioxidant benefits to soothe and calm.
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