If you’re a new mum or dad, or have a young child, you might be feeling especially apprehensive. Becoming a parent whether for the first or fourth time brings with it lots of natural concerns. And when you add the worry of Covid-19 on top, already heightened emotions could increase further still.
The most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Parents everywhere are going through exactly what you are and wondering how best to keep their loved ones safe.
Something else worth considering, is that while the circumstances we find ourselves in are anything but ideal, it does give us an opportunity to slow down and appreciate what we have. In this modern world, where life usually moves at a million miles an hour, that can be a rare gift.
When cleaning your baby, there are also clear methods you can adopt to look after yourself and your child. Below we’ve listed the World Health Organisation’s current protective measures against Covid-19 to help guide you through these uncharted times.
Please note, this advice was up-to-date at time of publishing.
1. Wash your hands regularly – and your baby’s too
It sounds so simple, but regularly and thoroughly washing your hands is really important in the fight against the virus. For good, effective handwashing, soap and water is best, but, if you’re an adult (baby's skin is too delicate), you can also use hand gel, providing it has a minimum of 60% alcohol content – anything less is ineffective against Covid-19. The current advice is to keep washing your hands for around 20 seconds, or as long as it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice.
Of course, new babies and toddlers are too small to wash their hands themselves, so do it together. When cleaning your baby, a good technique is to have two clean cloths – one soaked in soapy water, the other just soaked in water. Wring out the soapy cloth and rub it all over your little one’s hands, making sure to get in between their fingers. If they’ll let you, do this for 20 seconds with each hand. Once you’re finished, wipe away the soapy residue with the second cloth or a WaterWipes wipe, then dry their hands thoroughly with a clean towel. As a baby’s skin is delicate, it’s important to also use a gentle baby moisturiser after drying.
This same technique can be used for older children as well, or alternatively you can fill a bowl with soapy water, add some clean toys to distract them, then follow the same regime, making sure to really get in between their fingers. Then, as before, wash off with clean water or a WaterWipes wipe, dry thoroughly with a fresh towel, then moisturise with a gentle child’s moisturiser.
Read the World Health Organisation’s article on how to wash your hands correctly 1 for further guidance.
2. Maintain social distancing
Social distancing is a practise most of us had never heard of until recently, but it’s another vital measure to slow the spread of the virus. The current UK advice is to stay at home as much as possible, and if you do go out, to keep at least two metres (six feet) away from anyone who’s not in your immediate household.
Young kids, especially, might struggle with this so try to reframe it for them. Instead of “I can’t see my friends/grandparents”, get them to think along the lines of “I’m protecting my friends/grandparents”.
In this most unusual of wars, we can all be heroes – simply by following the correct advice.
3.Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Try to avoid touching your face or the face of your baby/toddler unless you have washed your hands first. Depending on the type of surface, Covid-19 can linger for hours, even days. The ears, nose and mouth are where the virus enters your body, so if you touch a contaminated surface then touch your face, it increases your risk of infection.
4. Practise respiratory hygiene
Just like colds and flu, Covid-19 is thought to spread through droplets of moisture that leave the body when you cough or sneeze. So, catching these droplets is absolutely vital. If you cough make sure it’s into the crook of your elbow (not your hands) and if you sneeze, use a tissue (then dispose of it immediately). Try and encourage your toddler to do the same.
5. If you have a fever, cough or are finding it difficult to breathe, seek medical advice, but remotely only – do not visit your GP, pharmacy or local hospital
The main symptoms of Covid-19 are a new, continuous cough, a high temperature and later on in the illness, breathing difficulties. If you are experiencing one or all of these, the current advice is to stay at home and seek online medical support. NHS 111 online is a designated web page for those who think they might have contracted the virus. It will tell you exactly what you need to do in a simple, straightforward manner.
Please be reassured that current research shows that while babies and children aren’t immune to Covid-19, they are much less affected than other age groups.
6. Stay informed
The advice around Covid-19 is changing daily. It’s therefore important to keep up with the recommendations of established authorities, such as the WHO, the NHS and the HSE. Your health visitor, midwifery team and local GP services will also be able to offer guidance, although please be aware that current UK and Ireland government guidelines on social distancing and social isolation may mean these services aren’t running as normal.
By following the above precautions, you can feel rest assured that you are doing everything you can to keep your family safe – and everyone else, too. Life as we know it is on pause, but it won’t be forever. We will get through this, and we will appreciate the little things so much more when we do.
We have lots more helpful reading for new parents, such as what you need to know about caring for your baby’s skin.
This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns.
1. WHO Clean hands protect against infection