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    Help! My Baby Has Eaten Something Disgusting! continued...

    So when your baby has put some ancient food into her mouth, how worried should you be? Happily, you probably don’t need to freak out.

    “If a child eats some spoiled food, the worst they’ll probably get is a gastrointestinal illness,” Frenck says.

    Of course, it can get much more horrible than old food. With luck, you will never have the traumatizing experience of finding your baby sitting in the kitty litter eating something unspeakable. But some parents do.

    Even then, things will probably be fine.

    “I’ve had many calls from parents who are worried because their babies have eaten a pet’s poop,” Altmann says. “However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of them get sick from it.”

    That’s not to say that they couldn’t get sick. Pets can pass on diseases that could sicken a child. But as long as your cat or dog is getting his shots, the odds are pretty low. Some pets are riskier, like snakes and turtles, which can carry bacteria like salmonella. If you have an exotic pet, ask your child’s pediatrician for advice.

    Naturally, if you’re ever concerned about something your kid has eaten or had in her mouth, call the doctor. Just remember that when it comes to babies putting stuff in their mouths, the biggest risks come not from the gross things, but from choking hazards and poisons, like medicines and cleaning agents.

    Keeping Baby Healthy: Outside the House

    Taking your baby out poses its own specific germ risks. Here are some things to consider.

    • Controlling contact. When your child is very small -- say under three months -- experts say that it’s best to keep them away from crowds. But parents sometimes misunderstand, thinking that they’re supposed to keep their newborns in the house 24/7. That’s not the case.

      “Going out for a walk really won’t harm the baby, and it will probably do the parents some good,” says Frenck. Just try to stay away from hordes of people. When people come to touch your baby, dissuade them.
    • Eating out. When you’re dining out, bring along some antiseptic wipes. Wiping off the highchair and table are good ideas, Altmann says. “I personally don’t like seeing children eat their food right off the table at a restaurant,” says Jana. One option is to bring along your own place mat, either disposable or reusable.
    • Other precautions. When you’re out -- at the mall, or in a supermarket -- there’s no question that your kids will pick up some germs on their hands. But some precautions that will help keep your baby healthy are pretty easy. Wiping down the grocery cart seat with an antiseptic wipe is simple and could help, for example.

      But the world is too big to sterilize. You can’t wipe down the railing of an escalator, or a play structure, or the floor of the mall, or each particle of sand in a sandbox. So you just go back to the basics: washing hands or rubbing them with a hand sanitizer. There’s not much else you can do.

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