Whether you choose to breast or bottle feed your baby, you will need to start a hygiene routine from the day they are born – and that means sterilising everything that goes into their mouth.
Milk is not just an ideal food for baby – unfortunately it’s also one of the best environments for bacteria to grow, so you need to take special care to make sure that germs are not introduced to your baby during feeds.
Many mothers will express milk from time to time, perhaps because they are going out or sometimes if their baby is premature and cannot be breastfed. In that case, you may choose to do this by hand into a jug or bottle, or use a breast pump. Again everything should be sterilised.
Expressing milk is an easy way to continue to feed your baby without your milk supply diminishing, but you must ensure that the milk is kept in a sterile container until your baby needs it.
Ensure breast pumps are dismantled and washed after use and that parts are fully submerged in the Milton solution.
Keep small screw top bottles sterile, then fill them with freshly expressed milk.
Write the date and time on each bottle then transfer immediately to the fridge or the freezer until you need to use them.
Other helpful tips for hygiene when expressing milk are:
- Breast pumps should be taken apart and cleaned thoroughly after use and sterilised.
- If the breast pump includes any plastic connection tubing, this should also be sterilised along with the funnel etc.
- It is not advisable to share breast pumps with other mothers.
- Never put expressed milk into anything that hasn’t been sterilised.
If you have chosen to bottle feed your baby, you must thoroughly wash and sterilise everything using a method such as the Milton Method.
Take particular care to ensure that all milk residues are removed from bottles and teats* before you sterilise, otherwise the bottles won’t be fully sterile and bacteria could remain in the teat.
*For latex teats rub inside and out with salt to remove all milk deposits.
Other helpful tips to remember when bottle feeding:
- If you use bottles with lids, remember to sterilise those too.
- If you plan to store bottles or cooled, boiled water in the fridge during the day, make sure that you keep them on the top shelf, well away from any meat,and that teats are protected. You should also make sure that the fridge is kept clean and disinfected. A solution of Milton is an effective and convenient way of doing this. You can also use the Antibacterial Surface Spray.
- Make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly before you handle baby’s bottles.
- Don’t leave bottles out for long periods of time on work surfaces before using them. Their sterility will be destroyed as they may come into contact with new bacteria.
Soothers and teethers
If your baby uses a soother or teething ring, keep a supply in the Milton solution and replace them regularly.
You should also check them regularly as they can leak and fill with saliva and fluids – a potential breeding ground for bacteria. When this happens, throw them out!
The thrush fungus can also be commonly passed on from mother’s mouth. Do not clean your baby’s soother by putting it in your own mouth – you are sure to pass on bacteria.
A baby’s delicate digestive system will take time to settle down, so expect plenty of little milky vomits before and during feeds.
Whether you use bibs, muslins or towels, these can be a breeding ground for bacteria – particularly as you will probably use them to wipe baby’s mouth. Wash and replace them regularly.
The simple procedure of nappy changing can carry billions of bacteria and viruses and an increased risk of transmitting gastrointestinal infections through contact with baby’s faeces and then contact with surfaces, face cloths and sponges.
To be on the safe side you should practice a good nappy hygiene routine.
Even though disposable nappies are thrown away, they still pose a potential hygiene risk.
- Make sure soiled nappies are sealed in plastic bag before being disposed of.
- Don’t keep nappies lying around in kitchen bins – put them in the outside dustbin.
Real / re-usable nappies
If you use cotton or washable nappies make sure that you put them in a nappy bucket in a disinfectant solution. This will help kill the germs and bacteria.
Be careful when getting rid of the contents of the nappy bucket – don’t pour it down the sink, flush it down the toilet.
Wash your hands immediately after changing a nappy, to ensure that you don’t spread any germs.
Don’t forget to clean and disinfect the nappy bin.