As a lactating mother, hygienic conditions for yourself and your baby may be foremost in your mind. Because a young child's immunity may not have developed sufficiently to ward off all germs and infections, but you can implement simple procedures to help protect your infant and yourself. These include:

  • Cleaning- For hands, cooking utensils, cutlery and crockery, decontamination can be achieved by using soap or dish liquid and water, and effective wiping, scrubbing and rinsing.
  • Heat- Heating is an effective method of decontaminating items like clothes, cleaning utensils and fabrics, as the heat kills the germs. This means washing items in the hottest water possible. Heating (cooking) also reduces contamination of foods to a level that is safe for eating.
  • Hygienic cleaners and chemical disinfectants- These can be used to effectively decontaminate sites and surfaces where the other methods are impractical or inadequate.
Washing Hands

Germs are found just about everywhere. They are transferred to our hands when we touch other people, animals, body fluids, contaminated surfaces and food, and then passed on to anyone or thing we touch. Good hand washing is the single most effective way of preventing germs from getting into our bodies and causing infection. Always wash hands:

  • After touching any potentially contaminated surface (drains, cleaning cloths)
  • After using the toilet, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • After touching animals
  • After contact with blood or body fluids
  • Before and after handling food, changing nappies or handling potties
Toilet Hygiene

Although toilet bowls are highly likely to be contaminated with germs, the risk of transmission is usually low. However, toilets should be checked regularly and cleaned and disinfected as necessary. Although chemical disinfectants are effective, germs multiply quite rapidly in the wet environment so a continuous release or sustained action disinfectant may be useful.

Toilet flush handles, taps, doorknobs and waste bins are likely to carry germs and have a high risk of transferring infection, so it's essential to clean and disinfect these sites regularly. Children's potties should be rinsed in the toilet, cleaned and disinfected after each use, then be dried and stored. Remember to wash your own hands thoroughly after cleaning your child's potty or your bathroom.

Where possible, use disposable cleaning cloths. If you use re-usable cloths, decontaminate them after each use and at least once a day. You can decontaminate them and other cleaning utensils by hot machine washing (at least 60'C), by boiling or by using a chemical disinfectant, and drying them as quickly as possible.

If you use a mop, clean it in a designated sink, rinse it with disinfectant, wring it and then dry it quickly, preferably at high temperatures. DO NOT clean mops in sinks used for food preparation.

Nappy Changing

Babies are at higher risk of infection than older children and nappy changing provides an ideal opportunity for germs to be transmitted- not only to the baby, but also to parents.

Change nappies often, especially after soiling. It is important that you keep the baby's skin clean and dry. Rinse any soap away thoroughly because it may over-dry the skin and cause irritation. Follow the guidelines below when changing nappies:

  • Have everything you need and access to clean water before you change baby's nappy
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after each nappy change
  • Use a waterproof changing mat that can be disinfected
  • Use disposable towels
  • Place soiled disposable nappies in a plastic bag, then in a bin lined with a plastic liner

With re-usable nappies, discard solid matter in the toilet before disinfecting the nappies in a properly sealed nappy bucket. After disinfecting the nappies in a properly sealed nappy bucket. After disinfection the contents of the bucket should be flushed down a toilet, not poured down the sink. Wash disinfected re-usable nappies and any other soiled clothing in a hot wash (60'C). Nappy changing areas must be away from food preparation areas.

Eating and Feeding

Human breast milk is the best food for infants, providing essential nutrients and immune factors to help the baby fight infection before it's own immune system fully develops.

Mothers' personal hygiene when breast-feeding is extremely important. Dry or inflamed skin in the nipple area can become infected and be harmful to mother and child. Regular gentle washing and general care of the area is imperative.

Baby's bottles and dummies

All feeding utensils- bottles, teats, teething aids and dummies- must be decontaminated between feeds by boiling or by using a suitable disinfectant product to protect babies from infection. These products are referred to as "sterilizing products", but actually work to disinfect the equipment.

Food and Kitchen Hygiene

Illness from contaminated food or water is one of the most widespread health problems in the world. For young children, it can be fatal.