Prevent your newborn from developing illnesses such as diarrhoea and respiratory disease by implementing these hygiene rules at home.
It’s sad but true: There are more than 2.5 million children in Africa who won’t reach the age of five largely due to preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea and respiratory disease. Babies are most at risk within the first 28 days after birth, and studies have shown that one in three babies in Africa don’t survive this early stage due to infections. The good news is that implementing a few simple-to-follow hygiene rules in your own home can help protect your baby. Here’s how:
Wash your hands often
Young babies have not built up a strong immune system and are susceptible to infection. Therefore it’s important to frequently wash your hands, especially before feeding and after nappy changes. Make sure that everyone who handles your baby has clean hands. Wash hands particularly:
- Before handling premature babies
- During the baby’s first week while the umbilical cord is still attached
- If you have a cough/cold
- After returning from outside
- After cleaning or touching your baby’s poo
- After using the bathroom.
Keep your baby’s nappy dry and clean
Changing your baby’s nappy often and as soon as possible after bowel movements prevents infections and nappy rash. Always remember to wash your hands with soap and running water after handling dirty nappies to stop germs from spreading.
Be mindful with pets around your newborn
Don’t leave your baby alone with pets or near pets. Make sure your pets don’t get into the crib with your baby. When your baby is very young, don’t allow the family dog or cat to lick your baby’s face. This could transmit infectious material (such as faeces) into the baby’s mouth or eyes. Make sure that anyone who has come into contact with your pets washes their hands thoroughly before touching your baby.
Try and limit your baby’s exposure to large groups of people
The more people your baby is exposed to, the more likely it is that he will come in contact with someone who is sick, especially during flu season and now with the COVID-19 pandemic. Prevent the spread of everyday infections, such as common colds, flu, and digestive disorders, by adopting healthy handwashing routines. Keeping yourself healthy is important when you are nursing a newborn.
Properly sanitise all feeding equipment
Sanitising the feeding kit (including breast pump attachments) protects your newborn from microbes that could be ingested during feeding. To avoid contamination, it’s imperative to wash your hands before handling this equipment.
Encourage your family to develop a daily handwashing routine
This should already be a routine in your home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but it’s now more important than ever to remind your family to wash their hands. A simple splash with water is not effective in destroying germs, specifically on the five key occasions namely before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, after using the bathroom, and during bathing.