mom washing baby's hands
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Should You Wash Your Baby's Hands? There Are A Lot Of Germs Out There

If there's been a mantra associated with the coronavirus outbreak, it has to be: "Wash your hands." That's all well and good for adults and children, but what about the littlest among us? Should you wash your baby's hands when you wash your own, or is that overkill?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that one of the best ways to protect yourself from the Coronavirus (COVID -19) is to wash your hands, frequently, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds. However, they don't make such declarative statements specifically related to infants. It would seem as though it's up to the parents to guess.

"I would say that it's generally best to wash hands at bath time, after being out in public (busy places or daycare, etc.) or around anyone who is sick, and before and after eating," pediatrician Dr. Christian Hietanen, D.O., tells Romper. Babies contract illnesses the same way that we do, he adds, so it's important to consider how we protect ourselves is what we would do for our children.

The age of your baby makes a huge difference, too. Newborns in mittens aren't going to need to have their hands washed all of the time, because the only thing they're likely touching is their own mouths or the inside of a swaddle. However, Hietanen says that for older babies, especially babies who self-feed, you really need to be vigilant. And while you might be tempted to reach for the same hand sanitizer that you use on yourself, Hietanen urges parents to use caution, "just because babies like putting things in their mouth." (He adds that it's probably fine to use occasionally if you're "on the go, but just don't use an excess amount and make sure you let it dry." Remember, most hand sanitizers have a high concentration of alcohol, which is potentially dangerous for little ones, per Poison Control.)

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Dr. Cherilyn Cecchini of Your Doctors Online agrees. And if you're wondering about the logistics of washing an infant's hands at the sink, "you can apply soap and water using a cloth to a baby's hands and then use another with just water to wipe away the soap residue," Dr. Cecchini tells Romper. "For toddlers, it is safe to assist them at the sink and help them apply soap and lather for 20 seconds and then rinse and dry." So saddle up to the sink, wash their hands with warm soapy water while you sing "Happy Birthday" (which is approximately 20 seconds long), and then move on about your day.

Bottom line: As strange as it might seem to wash those tiny hands, it can't hurt (and it might help).


Dr. Christian Hietanen, D.O., pediatrician

Dr. Cherilyn Cecchini, Your Doctors Online