Two friends recently were hit badly by a stomach bug. That is always the worst but, when you’re trying to care for a baby at the same time, it’s a downright nightmare! And inevitably the bug starts travelling through the house and before you know it, everyone’s down for the count. I just received some great tips from Dr. Benjamin Tanner, president and founder of the Antimicrobial Test Laboratories, LLC, on how to keep your nursery as germ free as possible to keep your little one healthy.
Identify the germ “hot spots” within your nursery and clean them often.
Germ hot spots within the nursery are the areas that come in contact with waste in diapers and other body fluids, either directly or indirectly. Diaper waste–and the millions and millions of germs in it–can be spread by hands and objects that come in contact with it. Since germs are microscopic and invisible to the naked eye, it’s easy to spread many of them to clean surfaces without knowing it.
Areas where most bacteria typically gather include:
- Changing Table – This is the place where diaper messes and germs are transferred from the diaper to baby’s skin – and possibly mom’s hands. And a dirty diaper likely has more germs inside it than anything else in the nursery.
- Laundry Hamper – Studies have shown that laundry, especially if it has come in contact with bodily fluids, can harbor great quantities of bacteria and even spread them to clean clothes through normal washing cycles.
- Floor – Germs on the floor are not a concern for adults, but the floor is where babies lay, crawl, and play. Most floor germs aren’t of the harmful type, but it’s still a hot spot to keep an eye on.
- Toys/Toy chest – The average toy isn’t loaded with germs, but toys will transmit them easily if they become contaminated, since toys come in contact with playmates’ hands, skin, and mouths.
Learn the difference between cleaners and disinfectants, and which is appropriate for your nursery.
Cleaners remove most soils, but may spread germs around. Disinfectants actually kill germs when used correctly. To use a disinfectant correctly in a nursery, remove your baby from the spray or wipe zone and apply the product liberally. After the label-specified contact time elapses, wipe off the surface with a wet cloth or paper towel to get rid of anyirritating residual chemicals so your baby’s delicate skin does not touch these chemicals. It’s also wise to disinfect hard floors and vacuum carpets routinely to keep germ levels low.
Tip: Disinfectants say “disinfects,” “antibacterial” or “sanitizes” on the label
Set aside a special place in the nursery for disinfectants so they’re readily available for quick cleaning but safely out of reach of children. Even “non-toxic” cleaners can be dangerous to children, so keep cleaners on a high shelf in the closet or a child-proofed drawer of the dresser.
Keep messes (and germs) to a minimum when changing dirty diapers in the nursery.
- Establish a quick, mess-free diaper changing routine, and keep supplies handy and close by.
- Create a dedicated changing area that can be easily cleaned and disinfected.
- Take extra care to handle diapers from the outside surfaces and avoid touching waste.
- Get rid of diapers in a hygienic fashion that keeps germs sealed away. I recommend the Diaper Genie II Elite™ Disposal System. It seals odor into the pail and out of your nursery unlike an ordinary trash can and plastic bag. Diapers only touch the disposable film, not the pail, so there is one less thing to clean. The Diaper Genie II Elite™ disposal System also has Antimicrobial Protection built into the plastic to inhibit odor-causing bacteria.
Keep soap and warm water, or where soap and water are not available, antibacterial hand wipes, nearby to use after changing your baby in the nursery. This will help stop the spread of germs within the nursery.
Tip: When soap and water are not available, consider using an antibacterial hand wipe, such as Wet Ones® Antibacterial Hands and Face Wipes. Wet Ones. Antibacterial Hands and Face Wipes are clinically proven to be just as effective as gel hand sanitizers in killing 99.99% of germs, and also clean away dirt and messes.
Keep baby bottles away from germ hot spots, such as the changing table, and only handle them when your hands are clean. Harmful germs can grow very quickly in formula and breast milk – be sure to keep bottles clean and dry when not in use.
Keep a special hamper inside the nursery to use specifically for heavily soiled baby laundry.
This special, separate hamper will help prevent bacteria on heavily soiled laundry from spreading throughout the rest of the nursery. Also, take special care when laundering heavily soiled baby clothing and bedding to prevent the spread of germs through the laundry. Use Hot water and/or chlorine bleach. Dry laundry in a hot dryer cycle
Take special precautions within the nursery when baby is sick to prevent spread of illness to other children and throughout the rest of the nursery.
- Disinfect nursery “hot spots” more frequently
- Reduce time other children spend in the nursery and with baby
Take special precautions in the nursery when you or other family members are sick, to keep from giving your infection to baby and spreading throughout the nursery.
- Cover all coughs and sneezes
- Wash hands before contact with baby and when entering the nursery
Reduce pet access to the nursery.
Reptiles and birds frequently harbor dangerous germs, like Salmonella. Make sure that children wash hands well with soap and warm water after handling reptiles and before coming into the nursery, and keep bird bedding/litter out of the nursery altogether.
Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant.