Posts Tagged ‘germs’

Wash your hands for National Handwashing Awareness Week

Friday, December 8th, 2017

The easiest way to stop the spread of germs is to wash your hands. You should wash your hands before and after many activities, such as when you are preparing foods or eating, after you use the bathroom, and after changing diapers or helping your child use the toilet. The simple act of washing your hands can help protect you and others from germs.

Is there really a benefit to washing hands?

You may not be able to see the germs on your hands, but they can lead to illness. Think of hand washing as your daily vaccine for staying healthy. If you’re pregnant or thinking about pregnancy, washing your hands can help protect you from viruses and infections, like CMV and toxoplasmosis. These viruses can cause problems during pregnancy.

Washing your hands is easy, just follow these easy steps:

  • Wet your hands with clean water and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to lather the soap. Be sure you get the back of your hands as well.
  • Scrub! And sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice to be sure you are scrubbing long enough.
  • Rinse your hands well.
  • And dry.

If you don’t have soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Just be sure to check the label. Hand sanitizers are good in a pinch, but they don’t get rid of all types of germs, so hand washing is still the best way to stay healthy.

Clean hands stop germs

Monday, October 19th, 2015

One of the easiest ways to stay healthy is to…(drumroll please)…wash your hands. It’s quick and easy. Try singing the “Happy Birthday” song to yourself while you lather your hands with soap.

Wash your hands before and after activities surrounding food, toilet use, wound or cut treatment, pet care, garbage and diaper handling and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.This week is International Infection Prevention Week. Hand washing can help you avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of germs to others.

The March of Dimes is now on Vine – check out our fun videos!

Before Rover meets Junior

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Bella sleepingAs you bring your baby home from the hospital for the first time, you want to keep her safe and healthy around your pet. You may feel anxious about how your pet will respond to your family’s newest addition.

Here are some tips to think about before bringing your baby home.


Before your baby comes home

  • If you are still pregnant, it may be helpful to teach your dog some basic obedience skills, which will help his behavior when your baby comes home. Introduce new rules as needed. If you don’t want your dog on the furniture, or to jump on you when you walk in the door as you hold your baby, introduce that rule now.
  • Your schedule will drastically change once your baby is home and you may not be able to feed or walk your pet when he expects. Try changing your pet’s feeding or walking schedule beforehand. For example, if you regularly feed your pet at 7am sharp, try feeding him at a different time in the morning. Or it may be easier to purchase an automatic feeder which will dispense food at a certain time every day.
  • Take a piece of clothing or a blanket with your baby’s scent on it and put it in your pet’s bed so he can get used to the smell.

Once you and your baby are discharged

  • Have everyone else go in the door first so your pet can express his excitement at seeing people. Then put a leash on him just in case he does not have a good first reaction to your baby.
  • Slowly introduce your pet to your baby. Try holding your baby and allowing your pet to sniff her feet to get her scent.
  • Never leave your pet unsupervised near your baby.
  • Keep your pet out of your baby’s sleeping area to reduce the risk of hair or pet allergens irritating your baby’s airway.
  • Once your baby is old enough to lie outside of her crib, place her on a blanket or mat to keep pet fur and dust from irritating your baby during playtime. Keep your pet away from your baby during floor time.
  • Watch for aggressive behavior from your pet. Get help from an animal behavior expert if you see your pet acting out toward your baby.

Health Benefits

Besides your pet being a loving companion, some research suggests that a baby living in a home with a dog has fewer colds, ear infections and the need for antibiotics in their first year of life than babies raised in pet-free homes. The research suggests that homes with cats may have health benefits for babies too. However, researchers think that dogs provide more exposure to dirt and allergens, which strengthen a baby’s immune system.


Although there may be health benefits, you need to keep the negative health effects in mind, too. Furry pets and even short-haired animals are the most common and powerful causes of allergy symptoms. And cats tend to be more allergenic than dogs. My brother was mildly allergic to our dog, but he loved him so much that my parents did not want to give away our dog. We made sure to brush our dog’s fur often and vacuum frequently to decrease my brother’s exposure to the allergens.

If your child has an allergy to your pet, keep the animal out of her bedroom, sweep, dust and vacuum frequently. You can also fit your forced-air heating or air-conditioning system with a central air cleaner, which will remove a lot of the pet allergens from your home. If you are not sure whether your pet is the cause of your child’s allergy, ask your child’s pediatrician about allergy testing.

Do you have any tips to share? How did it go when you brought your baby home?

Have questions? Text or email us at A Health Education Specialist is available to answer your questions.

Preparing your home for your preemie

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Preemie going homeWe often receive questions about “preemie-proofing” from parents who are preparing for their preemie’s homecoming. You may have waited a long time for this day, but bringing your baby home, and leaving his team of doctors and nurses behind can be overwhelming for many parents. Here are some tips to help ease the transition:

Before your baby comes home:

• Speak with the NICU staff at your baby’s hospital. They are very knowledgeable about what your baby may need when going home.

• If you clean your home before your baby’s arrival, (or if you want to brighten up your preemie’s nursery by painting it) do so before he comes home. This way you can avoid any strong smells that may linger.

• Clean your house of dust and germs. Vacuum and dust often, take out the garbage and keep your kitchen and bathroom clean. Also, tell your baby’s health care provider if you have any pets. Pet hair can track in dirt and dust.

• If your baby needs oxygen, carefully observe the cleaning requirements, particularly for the humidifier, and understand the safety recommendations.

Once your baby is home:

• Your baby should not be exposed to smoke, aerosol sprays or paint fumes. These irritants can cause wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing.

• Maintain a smoke-free household. Post signs around your house if you need to so family and friends are aware of your smoke-free home.

• The guidelines for cleaning and storing bottles, nipples, pacifiers, breast pump equipment and milk or formula are the same for preemies as term babies.

• If your baby is on an apnea monitor, be sure you can hear the alarm from every room in your house.

• Wash hands after blowing your nose, diapering your baby or handling raw food. Don’t let adults or children who are sick, have a fever or who may have been exposed to illness, near your baby.

Visit our website here for more great resources for parents after they bring their baby home from the NICU.

What do you remember being helpful when you brought your preemie home? What tips would you recommend to new parents?

Keeping your child healthy and safe in a pool

Monday, June 30th, 2014

child in kiddie poolSmall inflatable or plastic kiddie pools are great fun for small children in the summertime. But, these pools can also make your child sick. The dirty pool water may cause recreational water illnesses (RWIs). RWIs are caused by water that is contaminated by feces or urine. RWIs can be spread by swallowing or having contact with contaminated water.  As the number of children using a pool increases, the more the risk for illness increases.

The CDC offers tips on how to keep your child healthy and safe when using a small inflatable or plastic pool:

• Before your child or any of his friends use the pool, give him a soap bath. Do not allow a child who is ill with diarrhea or vomiting to use the pool.

• During swim time, remind children to avoid getting pool water in their mouths. Take your little one on a bathroom break every hour or check his diaper every 30-60 minutes to help keep germs out of the water. If you see feces in the pool or a child has a dirty diaper while in the pool, clear the pool of children right away. Then, drain the water, clean it, and leave the pool in the sun for at least four hours to kill germs.

• Swim diapers and pants can delay diarrhea-causing germs from leaking into the water, but swim diapers do not keep germs from contaminating the water. If your child wears a swim diaper, remember to continue to take him for frequent diaper changes or bathroom breaks.

• Empty the pool water daily, unless you have a filter system.

• Always watch children carefully. Even small pools with shallow water pose a drowning hazard to children.

• Learn CPR (cardio-pulmonary recessitation). It is a great skill to know in the event a child is drowning. The American Red Cross is one organization that offers widely recognized CPR programs. You can usually find programs in your community.

Learn more about ways to keep your child safe in the water this summer. With a little caution and a few rules, your child can stay cool in a pool.

Ear infections in children

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

earOtitis media is an infection behind the eardrum (middle ear). In most cases, ear infections develop in a child who has had a cold. Your child can’t catch an ear infection from another child who has one, but he can catch the cold that caused the child’s ear infection. Unfortunately for our kiddies, ear infections are quite common – about two out of every three children have at least one ear infection before their second birthday.

Ear infection is caused by viruses and bacteria. Babies and preschool-aged children are especially likely to get ear infections for several reasons, including:
• The tubes that connect the back of their throats and middle ear, the eustachian tubes, are small. The size and position of these tubes increases the risk of infection by not allowing fluid to completely drain away, affording an excellent breeding ground for bacteria.
• While their immune systems are still developing, everything they can grab goes in their mouth introducing germs.

Your child may have an ear infection if she:
• Complains of ear pain (While my son screamed in pain, some children don’t notice any pain, so look for other signs, too)
• Does not seem to hear normally (the fluid build up can muffle sound)
• Pulls on her ear
• Has a fever (above 100.4° F)
• Cries during feeding
Call your child’s health care provider if you suspect an ear infection. Providers can diagnose an ear infection by looking inside your child’s ear canal with an instrument called an otoscope.

Some ear infections clear up without treatment within a few days. Others require antibiotics. Providers usually treat babies under 6 months of age with antibiotics. If the child is older and has mild symptoms, the provider may suggest waiting a few days before starting antibiotics to see if the infection clears up by itself.

For information on steps you can take to help prevent ear infection, click on this link.

Teething and fevers

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

crying-baby1Many Moms report that their baby develops a fever while teething. Their baby was fine, no fever, and then he starts teething and whammo!  Baby now has a fever, is irritable, crying and sick. So, they reason, the teething caused the fever…right?

As much as this seems to be an obvious cause and effect type of event, it has not been medically proven that teething can or does cause high fevers. In fact, it is accepted in the medical field that teething does NOT cause fevers. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Teething occasionally may cause mild irritability, crying, a low-grade temperature (but not over 101 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.3 degrees Celsius), excessive drooling, and a desire to chew on something hard.” (see   )

By blaming teething for a fever, it is possible you may miss diagnosing an important problem that needs treatment. A fever is an indication that something is wrong – an infection, flu, virus, the ever miserable ear infection, or something else.  If your baby has a fever (whether or not he is teething), contact his health care provider.  You can read more about fevers on our blog, here. A baby may begin teething between 4 and 7 months of age, and the process continues until all teeth have come in.  It seems logical that when a baby is teething, he will undoubtedly put his fingers in his mouth, rub his gums, and put more toys in his mouth in an effort to stop the pain.

As a result, he may be more likely to become sick from the extra germs he picked up. Your teething baby will be more susceptible to infections and diseases, because the antibodies that he gained from Mom during infancy and his early months of breastfeeding, are now wearing off. He is becoming less protected from the germs of the outside world, so he will begin to “catch” colds and other infections. This is his body’s way of building up his own immunities against diseases. So, in a weird way, this is a good thing.

For tips on what you can do to decrease teething discomfort, view this short factsheet on teething from the American Academy of Pediatrics.   So, the bottom line is to be aware of any changes in your baby’s behavior. If you are concerned, or he has a fever,  take him to the doc. Once your baby feels better, you will feel better, too.

A little dirt is good for kids

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

mudThere’s good news for moms already juggling too many household responsibilities. If your home isn’t 100% spotless and germ-free, it’s ok! Turns out, a little dirt is good for children, especially babies.

When babies are first born, their immune systems have yet to be developed. The immune system is the body’s natural defense mechanism, which helps protect your baby from illnesses and diseases throughout her life. Being in contact with some germs and dirt can actually help train your baby’s immune system to respond and defend itself from infection and illnesses.

An article in today’s New York Times suggests that a baby’s desire to put things in his mouth may in part be nature’s instinctive way to kick start his immune system by putting him in contact with germs.

So the next time your baby or kid gets his hands a little dirty, no need to panic. A little dirt here and there is okay!