There are more than 2.5 million children in Africa who won’t reach the age of five largely due to preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea and respiratory disease. Babies are most at risk within the first 28 days after birth, and studies have shown that one in three babies in Africa don’t survive this early stage due to infections such as diarrhoea.
Make sure your newborn stays healthy by implementing these hygiene rules:
1. Wash your hands before handling your newborn
Young babies have not built up a strong immune system and are susceptible to infection. Therefore it’s important to frequently wash your hands, especially before feeding and after nappy changes. Make sure that everyone who handles your baby has clean hands. Was hands particularly:
- Before handling premature babies
- During the baby’s first week while the umbilical cord is still attached
- If you have a cough/cold
- After returning from outside
- After cleaning or touching your baby’s poo
- After using the bathroom.
2. Change your baby’s nappy frequently
Changing your baby’s nappy often and as soon as possible after bowel movements prevents infections and nappy rash. Always remember to wash your hands with soap and running water after handling dirty nappies to stop germs spreading.
3. Be careful with pets around your newborn
Don’t leave your baby alone with pets or near pets. Make sure your pets don’t get into the crib with your baby. When your baby is very young, don’t allow the family dog or cat to lick your baby’s face. This could transmit infectious material (such as faeces) into the baby’s mouth or eyes. Make sure that anyone who has come into contact with your pets washes their hands thoroughly before touching your baby.
4. Don’t expose your baby to large groups of people before he’s six weeks old
The more people your baby is exposed to, the more likely it is that he will come in contact with someone who is sick, especially during flu season. Prevent the spread of everyday infections, such as common colds, flu and digestive disorders, by adopting healthy handwashing routines. Keeping yourself healthy is important when you are nursing a newborn.
5. Sanitise all feeding equipment
Sanitising the feeding kit (including breast pump attachments) protects your newborn from microbes that could be ingested during feeding. To avoid contamination, it’s imperative to wash your hands before handling this equipment.
Improve your family’s health and develop a daily healthy handwashing routine
Teach the rest of the family to wash their hands with soap and running water. A simple splash under water is not effective in destroying germs, specifically at the five key occasions namely before breakfast, lunch and dinner, after using the bathroom and during bathing.
Lifebuoy introduced a neonatal programme to help raise awareness about the connection between newborn survival and washing hands with soap in communities across the globe, including South Africa. Improving neonatal survival rates ensures more children reach their fifth birthday. The programme educates and empowers birth attendants and expectant moms on how to hygienically care for a newborn. A simple solution such as washing hands with soap and running water before touching a baby is an effective method of preventing the transmission of germs that a newborn’s immune system can’t tolerate.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.