Health and Safety,Birth to 2 Years - Healthy Habits for Preventing Infection and Illness
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 help protect your
child from getting sick by paying attention to safe food practices.
Prepare food safely. Help reduce the chance that your
child will become ill from
food poisoning. Wash your hands, keep kitchen
areas clean, and prepare foods properly.
Shop safely. Raw meats, seafood, and eggs can
contaminate other foods they touch. Keep these items wrapped in plastic and
away from fresh foods in your shopping cart. Look closely at all items, and
don't buy those that have signs of spoilage or damage.
Cook foods safely. Foods that have been in
contact with raw meat need to be cooked thoroughly to prevent the growth of
bacteria. The specific temperature varies by type of food.
Store foods safely. Keep food temperatures at safe
levels to prevent bacterial growth that can cause illness. Also take special
storing breast milk or formula for bottle-feedings.
Bacteria grow quickly in warm breast milk or formula that is left at room
temperature. After bottle-feeding your baby, immediately discard the milk or
formula that is left in the bottle. Promptly refrigerate fresh breast milk or
formula if it is not needed right away. Also, clean and disinfect all bottles
before each use.
Follow labels on food packaging. Look for expiration
dates on perishable foods before you buy or eat them. Also, follow any cooking
guidelines provided, such as temperature and cooking time.
Germs spread easily from person to person. Cold and
flu viruses usually affect the most people during the
colder months, although they can develop at any time of the year. Babies and
young children have a higher risk for secondary infections
from these illnesses. Take extra care to help protect your child against
Get your child immunized.
Immunizations, also called vaccinations, help protect
your child from diseases. Immunizations start at birth and are scheduled
into adulthood. For more information, see the topic
Be aware of the higher risk of germs in public areas.
Avoid exposing your child to a large crowd if he or she has been ill recently
or has an otherwise weakened immune system, especially when a contagious
illness is going around. Also, it may help to have disposable wipes and a
hand sanitizer available to clean hands and to wipe
off shopping carts or other shared items in public places.
Wash hands frequently, including after every diaper
change. Keeping your hands clean is an obvious, but often overlooked, way to
prevent the spread of germs. Also wash your baby's hands after he or she has a
bowel movement, because a baby can touch his or her messy bottom without your
being aware of it.
Teach good hygiene habits early, especially if your
child is frequently around many children, such as at day care. For example,
teach your child to cover his or her mouth when coughing or sneezing,
preferably using a tissue so germs do not get on the hands. Also show your
child how to wipe his or her nose with tissues. Babies and young children may
not understand your instructions, but repetition will help them remember these
concepts as they grow.