Hygiene at home
Parents of a preterm born baby may feel they must eliminate germs and dust completely before their baby’s discharge. However, it is usually not necessary to do extra-cleaning or use special detergents in the home. In general, it is impossible to keep up these activities for a longer period of time. Only few families can maintain such high standards of cleanliness while giving baby care. Parents can rely on common sense when they prepare their home for the new baby. A thorough cleaning is usually sufficient.
Using strong cleaning solutions and disinfection sprays can leave odours that may even irritate the baby. Washing the hands properly with soap and water after changing nappies, preparing food or going to the toilet, and also washing hands often in case of a cold before caring for the baby e.g., before feeding and skin care and not wearing outdoor shoes within the house are further recommendable hygiene measures.
Because their immune system is still developing, preterm babies are at particular risk for infections. To minimise the general inflectional risk in the first months, parents should
- Avoid crowded public places, air-conditioned buildings, e.g. shopping centres or try to visit public spaces (e.g. GP surgeries, baby clinics,..) at quieter times.
- Try to avoid large groups of young children.
- Try to restrict the number of visitors and/or persons who hold the baby.
- Ensure that everyone coming into contact with their baby washes hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. If someone has a cold or fever, this person should not be in contact with the baby.
Preterm babies need extra protection from pets because their immature lungs are more susceptible to environmental irritants as well as illness. Parents should seek the advice of their health care team before they take their baby home. Normally, pets do not need to be given away. But they should be prepared for the baby’s arrival. Parents can bring clothing or a blanket with the baby’s scent on it home before a baby is discharged.
Something to be aware of, however, is that particularly cats can transmit allergens that irritate a baby’s breathing passages. Especially in the beginning, parents should not leave a pet unattended near the baby and keep the pet out of the sleeping area. Outside of the crib, the baby should always be placed on a clean blanket or mat. Parents might consider getting a HEPA-type air filter to reduce the level of allergens and environmental irritants.