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Keeping Baby Healthy: Do I Need to Worry About Germs? continued...

Finally, remember that it's not only about your baby's health. Think about the logistics too.

"When a baby gets sick, it can be really challenging for the parents," says Altmann. "One parent may have to take time off from work to stay home with him, and that can cause a lot of problems."

What's more, once your baby's sick, the odds that someone else in the family will get sick are higher too. That one preventable cold could have repercussions that last for days or even weeks.

How to Keep Your Baby Healthy

So to protect your infant and your family, you need to play defense. Here are some tips on how to keep your baby healthy and how to keep those admirers - or at least their germs -- off your kid.

Make hand washing a rule. The most common way of spreading an infectious disease is by touch. So you should always wash your hands before picking up your baby or preparing food, and after diaper changes, using the bathroom, or walking into the house. Insist that anyone who wants to hold your baby meet the same standards.

Redirect. If you can't stop the hordes from touching your baby, you can exert some control over what they touch. "Parents should ask people to touch or kiss the baby's feet instead of the hands or face," says Altmann. That way, everyone's happy. The admirers get to touch the baby, but their germs are confined to an area of the body that's unlikely to make the baby sick. "That approach usually works until about 9 months," says Altmann. "Around then, kids start sucking on their toes."

Carry hand sanitizer. While experts say that soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs, alcohol-based hand sanitizers work very well too. Always have a bottle with you when you're out and about. If someone insists on touching, ask that they take a dab of it on their hands first to keep your baby healthy. For it to work, people need to rub vigorously for a full 15-20 seconds, says Frenck.

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