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Health and Safety, Birth to 2 Years - Healthy Habits for Preventing Infection and Illness

The immune systems of babies and young children up to 24 months of age are still developing. This makes them especially prone to getting sick after being exposed to viruses and bacteria. Exposure to common pathogens can occur from person-to-person contact and from improperly prepared food. Good hygiene practices can help you protect your child from exposure to these germs.

Safe food preparation

You can prevent most cases of food poisoning by being careful when you prepare and store food. Wash your hands and working surfaces while preparing food, cook foods to safe temperatures, and refrigerate foods promptly. Be especially careful when cooking or heating perishable foods, such as eggs, meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk, and milk products.

To help prevent food poisoning:

For more information, see the topic Food Poisoning and Safe Food Handling.

Protect against the spread of illness

Colds and flu can occur at any time of year. These upper respiratory infections (URIs) spread easily. Babies and young children have a higher risk for secondary infections from these illnesses. Take extra care to help protect your child against infections.

Visit the doctor regularly

Go to all well-child visits. During these visits, the doctor:

  • Gives your child a general physical exam.
  • Gives or schedules immunizations.
  • Asks you questions about your child's health and development and whether you have any concerns.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: February 08, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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