Invisible poop sounds terrifying, especially if you have little ones at home who love putting anything and everything in their mouths. But don’t panic just yet: though studies have shown that fecal bacteria can be present around the home, it’s a) mostly harmless, and b) easy to avoid with a few simple actions. Here are a few things you can do to limit the spread of bacteria in your home and help keep yourself and baby from getting sick.
1. Cleaning yourself
Keeping clean and tidy with a baby who loves to be messy can be a challenge, but there’s a few basics you don’t want to skip.
Always wash your hands with soap and water after each diaper change. “If a baby’s not sick they are not shedding any disease-causing organisms, but if they are you don’t want to spread that to anybody else or other babies,” explains Joe Rubino, Lysol’s Chief Microbiologist. “Sometimes babies are sick and don’t show symptoms. They could shed the virus and not be sick but could pass it on to other people.” Washing your hands will help make sure viruses don’t spread to adults or other children. We recommend leaving hand sanitizers in most rooms around your home.
Try to always wash your hands when you come home from school or work, and don’t skip the hand washing before preparing food, since our hands get dirty over the course of the day and can contaminate the food we prepare.
Rubino also recommends that you make sure that adults who will be handling your baby have up to date vaccinations, since baby’s immune system is still developing and may be vulnerable.
It’s also a bad idea to “rinse” baby’s pacifier in your mouth before giving it back: adult mouths have bacteria that babies’ mouths don’t have, and that bacteria can cause cavities. You can wipe the pacifier off before handing it back with a wet wipe or Kleenex.
2. Cleaning baby
Babies love to get dirty, and it’s ok to take a few shortcuts: don’t worry too much if baby’s toy falls on the ground. Wipe off any visible dirt and you should be good to go. And skipping bath time for a day or two isn’t a big deal either.
But Rubino reminds us that it’s a good idea to clean baby’s hands as often as possible, since they like to touch, well, everything. Scrubbing with soap and water is best, but hand sanitizer or hand wipes work fine too. Don’t forget to wash baby’s hands thoroughly before eating and if they have been around animals.
This isn’t exactly cleaning-related, but it’s still the most important thing you can do to help keep your kids healthy: get them vaccinated. According to WebMD, vaccinations are among the surest ways to protect your children from germs and illnesses, and following the recommended vaccination schedule will help keep them healthy and protected.
3. Cleaning your home
The easiest way to keep germs away from your baby is to keep their environment clean. That doesn’t mean you need to scrub from top to bottom every day; indeed, some experts say that excessive vacuuming stirs up allergens and can actually fill your child’s environment with more irritants. But there are definitely some cleaning steps you don’t want to skip.
Cleaning with soap and water washes the bacteria away, whereas bleach (including baby-friendly bleach) actually kills the bacteria. Both options work to keep your home clean. Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathroom, where most of the bacteria live.
Wipe down kitchen surfaces daily with a disinfectant to limit the risk of foodborne illnesses, and wash the floors regularly. “Bacteria that might come in on food, such as salmonella and e.coli, can be deadly for not only babies but also adults. That’s why keeping kitchen surfaces clean and disinfected is very important, especially if you’re preparing meals in the home.” Rubino says.
In the bathroom, regularly disinfect your sink, counter, toilet and floor. And make sure you’re cleaning with clean equipment: a dirty mop or sponge will only shift the bacteria around rather than help you get rid of it.
Accidents happen when you’re potty training, and it’s important to disinfect any clothes that might be poop-stained, especially if you’re washing them with other clothes. Toss laundry sanitizer into the washer to kill any residual bacteria.
Germs in the home sound scary to new parents, but with reasonable cleaning habits there’s no reason to worry: germs are normal, and your baby’s immune system is equipped to deal with most of them. Just make sure to keep yourselves and your homes clean to keep bacteria away.