Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ten Simple Tips to Maintain a Healthy and Germ-Free Nursery

baby in crib

*photo by Jean Scheijen


Ten Simple Tips to Maintain a Healthy and Germ-Free Nursery
By Dr. Benjamin Tanner

1. Identify the germ “hot spots” within your nursery and clean them often
Germ hot spots within the nursery are the areas that come in contact with waste in
diapers and other body fluids, either directly or indirectly. Diaper waste--and the
millions and millions of germs in it--can be spread by hands and objects that come in
contact with it. Since germs are microscopic and invisible to the naked eye, it’s easy to spread many of them to clean surfaces without knowing it. Areas where most bacteria typically gather include:

Changing Table – This is the place where diaper messes and germs are
transferred from the diaper to baby’s skin – and possibly mom’s hands. And a
dirty diaper likely has more germs inside it than anything else in the nursery.
Laundry Hamper – Studies have shown that laundry, especially if it has come in
contact with bodily fluids, can harbor great quantities of bacteria and even
spread them to clean clothes through normal washing cycles.
Floor – Germs on the floor are not a concern for adults, but the floor is where
babies lay, crawl, and play. Most floor germs aren’t of the harmful type, but it’s
still a hot spot to keep an eye on.
Toys/Toy chest – The average toy isn’t loaded with germs, but toys will transmit
them easily if they become contaminated, since toys come in contact with
playmates’ hands, skin, and mouths.

2. Learn the difference between cleaners and disinfectants, and which is appropriate for your nursery.  Cleaners remove most soils, but may spread germs around. Disinfectants actually kill germs when used correctly.

• To use a disinfectant correctly in a nursery, remove your baby from the spray or
wipe zone and apply the product liberally. After the label-specified contact time
elapses, wipe off the surface with a wet cloth or paper towel to get rid of any
irritating residual chemicals so your baby’s delicate skin does not touch these
• It’s also wise to disinfect hard floors and vacuum carpets routinely to keep germ
levels low
• Tip: Disinfectants say “disinfects,” “antibacterial” or “sanitizes” on the label.

3. Set aside a special place in the nursery for disinfectants so they’re readily available for quick cleaning but safely out of reach of children.  Even “non-toxic” cleaners can be dangerous to children, so keep cleaners on a high shelf in the closet or a child-proofed drawer of the dresser.

4. Keep messes (and germs) to a minimum when changing dirty diapers in the nursery.

• Establish a quick, mess-free diaper changing routine, and keep supplies handy
and close by.
o Create a dedicated changing area that can be easily cleaned and
o Take extra care to handle diapers from the outside surfaces and avoid
touching waste.

• Get rid of diapers in a hygienic fashion that keeps germs sealed away. I
recommend the Diaper Genie II Elite™ Disposal System. It seals odor into the
pail and out of your nursery unlike an ordinary trash can and plastic bag. Diapers
only touch the disposable film, not the pail, so there is one less thing to clean.
The Diaper Genie II Elite™ Disposal System also has Antimicrobial Protection
built into the plastic to inhibit odor-causing bacteria.

5. Keep soap and warm water, or where soap and water are not available, antibacterial
hand wipes, nearby to use after changing your baby in the nursery
This will help stop the spread of germs within the nursery.

• Tip: When soap and water are not available, consider using an antibacterial
hand wipe, such as Wet Ones® Antibacterial Hands and Face Wipes. Wet Ones
Antibacterial Hands and Face Wipes are clinically proven to be just as effective
as gel hand sanitizers in killing 99.99% of germs, and also clean away dirt and

6. Keep baby bottles away from germ hot spots, such as the changing table, and only
handle them when your hands are clean.  Harmful germs can grow very quickly in formula and breast milk – be sure to keep bottles clean and dry when not in use.

7. Keep a special hamper inside the nursery to use specifically for heavily soiled baby
laundry.  This special, separate hamper will help prevent bacteria on heavily soiled laundry from spreading throughout the rest of the nursery. Also, take special care when laundering heavily soiled baby clothing and bedding to prevent the spread of germs through the laundry.

• Use Hot water and/or chlorine bleach
• Dry laundry in a hot dryer cycle

8. Take special precautions within the nursery when baby is sick to prevent spread of
illness to other children and throughout the rest of the nursery.

• Disinfect nursery “hot spots” more frequently
• Reduce time other children spend in the nursery and with baby

9. Take special precautions in the nursery when you or other family members are sick, to keep from giving your infection to baby and spreading throughout the nursery.

• Cover all coughs and sneezes
• Wash hands before contact with baby and when entering the nursery

10. Reduce pet access to the nursery

• Reptiles and birds frequently harbor dangerous germs, like Salmonella. Make
sure that children wash hands well with soap and warm water after handling
reptiles and before coming into the nursery, and keep bird bedding/litter out of
the nursery altogether.
• Dogs and cats are less risky but still may carry certain kinds of harmful bacteria.
Cats may harbor a parasite that is of particular concern to pregnant women – if
you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, avoid changing cat litter to
reduce exposure to the parasite Toxoplasma.
• If a pet makes a mess on the carpet, make sure to spray it with a non-bleach
disinfectant after cleanup to prevent those germs from spreading to baby during

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