Preventing Common Diseases

Being a new mum is challenging enough, without having to deal with a baby who is ill as well. That is why taking some preventive measures to protect your baby from disease makes so much sense.

Immunisations

Vaccines are one of the most important ways to protect your baby is to make sure they get all the prescribed vaccines on schedule.

Breast feeding

Another important way to protect your baby is breast feeding.  Breast milk contains many factors that help to support a baby's immune system. A mother passes on lots of proteins, fats, sugars and cells that work against infections when she breastfeeds her baby.

When a mother comes into contact with germs in her environment, she makes antibodies to fight those germs. These antibodies pass into the breast milk and therefore into the baby. Since a mother and her baby are generally in contact with the same germs, this helps to protect her baby from the illnesses they are both exposed to.

In addition, there are a number of other factors in breast milk that help a breastfed baby develop a more efficient immune system. For example, breastfed babies have a larger thymus gland than those fed infant formula. The thymus gland makes a type of white blood cell that helps protect against infections

Additionally, breast milk contains prebiotics, special dietary fibres that helps to keep the babies stomach and bowels healthy. They do this by nourishing and promoting the naturally present, friendly bacteria capable of warding off infection in the digestive system.

Hygiene

Baby's immune system is still developing, so every care should be taken to avoid contact with germs. Here are some things to watch out for:
1. Wash your hands.  Washing your hands with soap and water is essential for removing harmful bacteria and germs that cause colds, flu, diarrhoea and other infections.  It is particularly important to wash your hands before feeding your baby, and after handling raw food,  after changing a nappy or going to the toilet yourself, after touching pets or anything dirty like rubbish, food waste or money.  Dry your hands properly with a clean towel (wash the towel frequently). 
2. Keep a clean home. You don't need to clean the house every day from top to bottom with disinfectant, but you do need to pay attention to surfaces that are most likely to harbour bacteria and germs. Food preparation areas, as well as door handles, bathrooms, kitchen sinks, tables, utensils, cloths used to dry utensils and even soap dishes. Use hot soapy water to clean utensils, and a good disinfectant for bathrooms ad kitchen areas. Dry the surfaces well.
3. Clean toys. Babies love to put things into their mouths and toys are no exception. Clean baby's toys regularly with a good disinfectant. In fact select toys that are easy to clean.
4. Bathing is essential to keep baby clean.
5. Finger nails need special attention as they can harbour germs, Keep baby's nails well-trimmed so they don't scratch themselves. Use baby nail clippers and don't cut them too short as it hurts.
6. Ears should be washed, but only the outside of the ear. Do not insert cotton wool buds into baby's ears. If you notice that the baby is uncomfortable when you touch the ears it could be a sign of infection. Have your health care professional look at them. 
7. Nose. It is important to clean mucous from baby's nose as it can cause difficulty breathing. Use a damp cloth to gently remove excess mucous. A few minutes in steam (you can run a hot shower and sit in the bathroom with baby) can help unblock the nose. 
8. Eyes. Keep baby's eyes clear of dried mucous. Use different cotton buds or different parts of the damp cloth to clean each eye.