Parents often believe infants are too young to practice infection prevention. From birth, babies seem naturally lured to fingers and any other items they can grasp and shove in their mouths. Keeping every inch of the family space free from contamination is an impossible task, let alone making the world an anti-bacterial environment. Infants, children and adults can use the same basic techniques for infection prevention – on one level or another.
According to pediatricians, infants are never too young to learn about infection prevention. While the more advanced techniques like hand washing will not be viable for an infant, parents can start infection prevention education early by washing an infant’s hand on a regular basis. The practices then become habit.
- Wash hands often. Hand washing is the number one method of preventing infection. Bacteria can spread from any surface to hands, eyes and mouth in an instant. Hand washing techniques include using warm water and an anti-bacterial soap. Hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds. Doctors often sing the Happy Birthday song while hand washing to ensure all bacteria is removed.
- Use hand sanitizer. When soap and water are not around, hand sanitizer can replace hand washing, but only for a short period. Hand sanitizers use alcohol to kill off bacteria on hands and other surfaces. Alcohol tends to have a drying effect on the skin, which over time, can lead to cracks in the skin and an increased risk for infection.
- Never share personal use items. Toothbrushes, razors and nail care tools are all perfect places for bacteria to hide. Sharing these items could mean sharing germs and infections with others. After using a toothbrush, place the brush in a cup of antiseptic mouthwash. The wash will kill off any bacteria that may remain on the bristles. Other personal use items like fingernail clippers and razors can be disinfected with rubbing alcohol.
- Cover your mouth with your arm – not your hand. Children are commonly taught to cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze. The hand is not the best tool for the job. Teaching children to cover their mouth and nose with the arm helps to prevent the spread of bacteria and infections that can cause illness in day care and school setting. After sneezing or coughing, wash hands and arm.
- Vaccinations matter a great deal. The body has a built in memory in regards to vaccinations. When small amounts of infectious cells are injected into the body, immune system response reads the cells and reacts. The reactions are often too mild to notice, but the body will remember that infections for a lifetime.
- Do not pick any orifice. Not only is nose picking a problem with children, it can also spread germs and infection. Moreover, rubbing out eye boogers or placing fingers in the mouth are means of spreading infection. All are no-nos.