Germ Patrol: Keeping Your Toddlers Safe from Germs

At Mealtime

Pop quiz: Which room is the germiest in most houses? If you said the kitchen, you're absolutely right! Young children are particularly susceptible to food-borne illnesses like salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter, because their immune system is not yet fully developed -- and they can become dehydrated more easily than adults if they get sick. For that reason, it's especially important to take extra care with food preparation and cleanup.

While you're fixing a meal for your little one, make sure you keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood away from other foods, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after touching any of these ingredients. Also keep in mind that the absolute germiest place in your kitchen is the sink, according to Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a microbiologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. With all the raw food products that tend to land there, it's a veritable party of pathogens, so never give your child anything that's fallen in -- even a stray berry from the bunch that you're rinsing.

After every meal, use a paper towel (not a sponge) to wipe down the high chair's food tray with cleaning spray (be sure to look for one that says "disinfectant" rather than "antibacterial" and has an Environmental Protection Agency registration number -- which insures that it actually does disinfect).

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