There are a number of reasons why new parents keep their babies safely secluded for the first few months of their lives, and while cultural reasons may be the biggest driver of this, as was the case when Nandi Madida and Zakes Bantwini first brought little Shaka home, there are also a few hygienic benefits.
While the world was focused on the fact that Kate Middleton was in full glam and heels just hours after giving birth to introduce her new son to the world, a large number of South Africans were astonished that the royal family introduced their newborn to the world on the first day of his life.
The immune system is a network of cells and proteins that defend the human body against infection, but a baby’s immune system is not fully formed shortly after they’re born.
There are, therefore, a number of ways in which a baby’s immune system fortifies itself as time goes by;
- Babies get antibodies from their mothers through the placenta during the last three months of pregnancy, but this decreases over time
- Bacteria from the mother’s vagina is passed on to the baby during birth and this helps to build the colony of bacteria in the baby’s gut (which, in turn, fortifies their immunity).
- After birth, more antibodies are passed on to the baby in colostrum and in breast milk.
Although babies produce their own antibodies every time they are exposed to a viruses or germs, it takes time for this immunity to fully develop and as such, parents and caregivers have to be highly vigilant with hygiene for babies. In addition to keeping their environment and belongings clean, caregivers can boost a baby’s immunity through breastfeeding and a focus on nutrition.
Seeing as feeding is an integral part of baby’s life, it is important to not only take extra care with all feeding implements and tools, it is also paramount that you use the best products to get the job done.
NUK manufactures products especially for sterilizing and maintaining baby’s feeding products. Here are a few NUK approved hygiene tips for babies;
When cleaning baby feeding accessories, be sure to:
1. Wash all parts in salt water or a gentle washing up liquid (the NUK Bottle cleanser contains enzymes which breaks down the protein in the milky residue which is often left behind in bottles).
2. Ensure you use a teat and bottle cleaning device to clean milk particles away from the multiple feeding holes, ribbed sides and anti-colic air valves of more advanced bottle systems.
3. Put all clean bottles and parts into a microwave or electric sterilizer and follow the instructions perfectly. These sterilizers are super convenient and effective. Alternatively, you can sterilize in the old school way: in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes with some salt. For full cleaning and sterilizing instructions that can be downloaded and stuck on the fridge for sleep-deprived parents or baby minders who may not be 100% in the know, click here.
- Other general hygiene tips:
4. Limit the amount of people your baby is exposed to in the first few weeks (as Chris and Takkies did shortly after Sana was born). This gives them time to strengthen their immune systems before being exposed to such a wide variety of germs, including germs that lead to colds and flu.
5. Wash your hands before handling the baby. This serves the same function as the aforementioned, as it limits the amount of germs the baby is exposed to.
6. Nappies should be changed frequently. The moisture from being left in a dirty diaper for too long can give baby a rash. If you can, it is also advisable to leave your baby nappy-free for a bit in between changes.
7. Clean the umbilical cord regularly and take care with covering it. Use a damp cloth, without soap, to cleanse around the area and allow it to air dry before covering it again with clothing. Diapers should be strapped below the umbilical cord so as not to cover it
8. Wipe babies gums daily with a soft cloth and water as this helps with baby’s oral care and will later help with teething.
9. Cut baby’s nails regularly to prevent them from scratching themselves. Babies have almost no control over their hands or limbs, so they scratch themselves without meaning to.
10. Be mindful of how you clean your baby. Use a different piece of moist cotton wool for each eye, gently clean your newborn’s eyelids, wiping from inner eye to outer eye.
11. Use a cotton wool ball to wipe behind and around the outside of baby’s ears. Be careful not to stick anything inside baby’s ear as this can cause damage.
12. When bathing a baby girl, wet a cotton ball, hold her legs apart and wipe between the labia with the cotton ball. Start at the front and gently wipe backwards. For baby boys, simply gently rinse the genital area with water while bathing.
13. Take extra care with baby’s laundry. They need separate items for themselves with everything, including special detergents and other cleaning items such as NUK’s specially formulated range of baby safe cleaning products.
Main image credit: sistamag.co.za