The Real Deal on Germs
GERMOPHOBE RULE #3: No doggy kisses allowed.
REALITY CHECK: Unless your child has an open wound that's at risk for
infection from germs in the dog's saliva, a canine smooch typically isn't cause
for concern, says Frenck. Still, it's best to have your child wash up after
he's been slobbered on by any animal -- if the dog is unknowingly infected with
parasites, they can be found inside its mouth. Besides, you can't be sure what
Fido last licked.
GERMOPHOBE RULE #4: Leftover food and formula go straight into the trash.
REALITY CHECK: Save that leftover baby food -- but only if your
child's spoon wasn't dipped directly into the jar. While she probably won't get
sick if you double dip later, digestive enzymes from her saliva can break down
food and cause it to spoil more quickly (and it's not always easy to tell when
mashed peas and beef have gone bad). Your safest bet is to pour what you need
into a bowl and then serve it. With formula and breast milk, leftovers are safe
as long as the same child is consuming them, and the formula hasn't been at
room temperature for more than two hours (breast milk, which is loaded with
antibodies, can sit out for up to 10 hours).
GERMOPHOBE RULE #5: Fruits and vegetables -- even prewashed ones -- must be rinsed again at home.
REALITY CHECK: When it comes to food preparation, you can't be too
careful. Even prewashed, ready-to-eat foods can be contaminated with traces of
dirt, bacteria, and pesticides. To remove these residual contaminants, clean
all produce with water and a scrub brush, then pat dry with a clean cloth or
paper towel before serving. Remember to wash your hands, utensils, and kitchen
surfaces with hot, soapy water after handling fresh produce to avoid
contaminating other foods.
GERMOPHOBE RULE #6: You wash your baby's binkie every time she drops it on the kitchen floor.
REALITY CHECK: Moms joke about the five-second rule. But any amount
of time on the floor is long enough for dropped objects to become contaminated
with illness-causing bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, according to a
recent Clemson University study. An object or piece of food dropped on a
kitchen or bathroom floor is more likely to pick up these harmful bugs, but
it's always best to discard dropped food and clean fallen items with hot
water and soap before giving them back to your baby.