When it comes to the importance of baby hygiene in the first year, moms around the world are baffled! With all the seemingly contradictory information about good and bad germs, what is a mom to do?
No matter where you are on the spectrum of germ-o-phobe, there is no doubt that a certain amount of hygiene is important to protect your baby’s young immune system. Children under 2 years old are at particular risk for serious complications if infected by the flu – around 20,000 children under 5 years old are hospitalized for this very reason. However, being obsessive is unnecessary too - the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ suggests that contact with some germs in the first year is key to building up a strong immune system and preventing asthma.
Most approaches to hygiene are partly based on science, and partly on a mother’s intuition. Keeping your baby’s environment clean most of the time, and staying away from certain germ-ridden situations, is your most effective tactic. The worst situations for harmful germs are grocery stores, where meat-borne bacteria are rife, and floors, where animals and shoes bring in unwanted germs. To avoid these situations, we recommend washing your own hands often and properly, and clean your baby’s hands with disinfectant wet wipes. Sanitise toys and surfaces with a disinfectant spray or solution, such as Purity® & Elizabeth Anne’s Disinfecting Solution, which is chlorine and colourant free and, most importantly, non-toxic and non-irritating to your little one.
Baby laundry is also an important point of contact where germs can be easily avoided. Wash all those cute baby outfits before they’re worn, particularly when your little one is a newborn, to remove any substances or dust, and be sure to wash after every use. Ensure your baby’s garments are clean, but also gentle on your little one’s skin by using a mild laundry detergent for babies, such as Purity® & Elizabeth Anne’s Laundry Wash, that is free of dyes, fragrances, enzymes and harsh ingredients. Skip the fabric softener unless it’s specially formulated for delicate skin, such as Purity® & Elizabeth Anne’s Fabric Conditioner. Make sure all items of clothing are well rinsed before you hang them out to dry.
Cloth nappies can be soaked in water for a few hours to remove stains, before washing according to item directions in a separate load with a gentle baby-friendly laundry detergent. Top tip: A half cup of bicarbonate of soda, SteriNappi or Purity® & Elizabeth Anne’s Stain Remover during the soaking process can help to remove smelly odours!