Viruses, illness, and germies, oh my! Cold and flu season may be in full swing right now, but parents of babies and toddlers are on high alert year-round to keep illness away from their children. We’ve compiled a list of basic tips that care providers can do with children to help stop the spread of these pesky germs.
- Wash your hands and your children’s hands for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
While it has been talked about for a long time that handwashing is important, experts recommend paying extra attention to washing hands during these specific times: after going to the bathroom, before you eat any food, when you come inside after being outside, before & after visiting a doctor’s office, after touching animals, after playing with other children, before preparing any food, when you first come home after being in a public place, and before bedtime. While this list doesn’t list every time you should wash your hands, it highlights times when we may be most exposed to transferring germs to ourselves or others.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Since babies and toddlers seem to always have their hands in their mouths, we have found that keeping hands clean between handwashing becomes an even larger priority. Washcloths with soap and water on them, wipes, and hand sanitizer are all quick ways to remove all or part of the germs in between washing. As toddlers get older, reminding them “no touching your face” is a little easier to start enforcing.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
We know that family, well-meaning friends, and sometimes perfect strangers want to touch, hug, or kiss our cute little ones. It may feel awkward, but politely asking these well-meaning cuddlers to not touch your child helps stop the spread of germs.
- Stay home when you are sick.
Just say “no” to playdates, outings, visitors, or meals with family or friends if anyone is sick. If you or someone you’re about to see has had symptoms of a cold or a fever in the last 24 hours, it’s best to stay apart until all symptoms and fever are gone.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
By covering your mouth/ nose during a cough or sneeze it helps keep the particulates from traveling as far and helps keep some of them out of the air. If you can cough or sneeze into a tissue, the germs are easily disposed of away from others.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
In our household, we found that keeping antibacterial wipes handy made the task of cleaning around the house easier. Doorknobs, handrails, remote controls, tables, chairs, faucets, and toilet levers are at the top of the list when we did a twice a day clean.
While it seems like an endless task, experts agree that these steps, when put into your daily routine, will help limit the number of viruses you and your little one come in contact with and likewise reduce the chances of contracting a more severe illness.
Molly is a mom of 5, grandma of two and a baby product expert. For the last 23 years she has enjoyed connecting parents to products and resources that help make their parenting journey uniquely theirs.