Sanitizing and Your New Baby
When you first get home with your new baby, you want everything to be perfect. Your little one(s) needs all of the latest and greatest inventions; the Miracle blanket, a video monitor, the noise machine, the Uppababy Vista stroller, the diapers with the wetness indicators, and plenty of hand sanitizer right?
He or she is so small, and so fragile. You want to make sure that you do everything right. You want to hold them correctly, make sure to feed them correctly with the right foods and the right bottles, get them the right amount of exercise, and make sure to lay them on the right side in their crib so they don't get SIDS.
Is he warm enough? Did I swaddle her correctly? Did I give him that rash? What's the bump on his arm? Worrying is as much a part of parenting as not sleeping and changing diapers. You might even worry about what would happen to your little one if someone happened to you. No one could care for her the way you can. Above all, you certainly don't want your little one(s) to get sick.
You've heard about all of the dangerous sicknesses that babies get, and how fragile they are at this time in their lives. So what do you do? You hand sanitize every couple of minutes. You don't let anybody hold them that hasn't hand sanitized first and doesn't look suspicious. You don't want anyone else to watch your children, unless of course they are wearing their Hazmat suits (and this means mother-in-laws included).
If you're like any normal parent, you also run to the nursery at every cough, and you probably check for proof of life every ten minutes or so just to make sure your little one is still breathing. Too many parents get so uptight and obsessive, they won't even let other individuals into their homes for the first year. In this article, we are addressing sanitation and your little one(s).
While it's important to make sure that your home is clean, it's not necessary to be quite as strict as you might think needed. Have you ever seen those commercials for diapers where they are joking about the difference between new moms and those that have one or more children besides?
They show new moms cleaning everything repeatedly, being cautious about everyone touching the baby, and being sure to have all of the latest and greatest (brand-new) toys and equipment for their new little one. And then they realize that it all wasn't necessary and get Huggies, if I remember correctly. This is actually pretty accurate.
How many times do you hand sanitize a day?
I understand your worries, but obsessing is only going to stress you out, and therefore your infant. There's no need for all of that. Consider what babies use the most and do your best. Spit, throw-up, drool, poop, pee, snot, and all sorts of strange, unidentifiable liquids are going to be a regular part of life. Tons of hand sanitizer, special laundry soaps, and an inordinate amount of creams, ointments, and medications don't have to be.
Choose those things most important and worry about those. After a day's worth of spit, drool, and throw up all over their clothes, it's a good idea to wash them. I wouldn't reuse bottles before washing them in hot water first, pacifiers should at least be rinsed before putting them back in baby's mouth and washed in hot water daily, and seeing as how the floor will be an important part of their lives for a while, it's a good idea to keep small pieces off the floor and vacuum regularly. Most everything else will be out of your control.
The Dangers of Being Too Sterile
A little dirt is good for baby. What?! Just like children and adults, exposure to bacteria actually improves the development of a person's immune system, and helps to fend off disease. What do you think doctor's put in the immunizations that your baby regularly gets? Sicknesses in small doses! Absolutely!
I don't suggest letting your baby eat dirt or roll in the mud, but be aware of being too careful. Too many studies have been done over the years showing that infants in homes of parents that are obsessive (like we described in the first few paragraphs) about being clean are more prone to develop an array of serious health problems, including asthma, allergies, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. It is actually important for your baby to be exposed to germs in safe doses, like the ones in your home right now, in order to build up a strong immune system for later years.
"When people shielded from grime as babies are exposed later in life, their immune systems are unprepared, leaving their bodies vulnerable to various illnesses. Frequently their systems overcompensate by developing allergies to such things as food, pollen, and animals." (http://theweek.com/article/index/203186/is-your-baby-too-germ-free)
You might be surprised to learn that infants systems are much better at handling germs than you would think. When children are young, they are less likely to break a bone or to stay sick for very long, and they heal MUCH faster from injuries. If there was ever a time to let their bodies work the way they are supposed to, it's now.
What Can You Do
Relax. Babies have been raised in much worse conditions and have grown to be healthy, happy individuals. Avoid an overuse of cleaning products like hand sanitizers and disinfectants. As you may have heard, these certainly kill germs, but they kill the good ones that help us to be healthier, along with the bad ones.
Germs are not bad, your child will most definitely ingest a good amount of dirt and foreign objects off of the floor that will not hurt them, and you'll eventually learn that the stress (which is actually very bad for both you and the baby, and can cause colic in your little one if you're breastfeeding) is not worth it.
Allowing others to hold him, taking her everywhere with you in the car, and letting them experience life to the fullest will actually give you a very friendly, social, well-rounded baby able to handle just about anything that may come in the future. Exposure is a good thing. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can relax.
Relaxing and focusing on giving your new baby all the love you can stand, plenty of physical touch, and regular conversation will give both you and your new little one (much less your husband and family) the best baby experience possible. Enjoy the little blessing you’ve been given and take plenty of pictures! They grow fast!
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© 2013 Victoria Van Ness