Post-delivery, when I got a sterilizer, I was criticized for being so fussy with the baby to even sterilize his spoons. When I put a mosquito net over my baby’s crib, I was condemned for not even allowing the baby to breathe properly. I was always told, that let the baby be. Don’t be ultra-careful with him. It will weaken his immunity.
When he turned 5 months old and was about to start crawling, my worries skyrocketed to the peak. Now he was susceptible to rolling over the bed. Leaving on the floor means dirt and mopping the floor every time my son crawls is definitely not possible and letting my son enter the swarm of germs is next to impossible. I shared my apprehensions with my MIL and she promptly discarded them saying – “Don’t be overprotective of him. I don’t understand why parents these days don’t allow the caterpillar to crawl out of the cocoon. We grew up crawling in the kacha angan and we are more fit and healthy than your generation. Let him fight with the germs and gain resistance.”
I acknowledge her thoughts but we must also appreciate the fact that most of our grannies used to stay in joint families, so there used to be more heads to supervise and take care of the baby 24×7 and hence, lesser chances of the baby hurting himself. Also back then, the bacteria were not as resistant as they are today because of the rampant use of antibiotics in crops and even medicines. Hence today, prevention is the best cure, especially for babies whose immune system is still not developed.
Once the babies start crawling, we have to set them free to explore the world themselves and learn from experiences. Now the babies touch everything clean and dirty, especially those that are super dirty. Yes, my baby was fond of shoes and whenever anyone entered the house he would run to his/her shoes.
So, we changed a few things once the toddler started crawling and gaining his own mobility. There were conflicts with my in-laws over changing the ways of life and about me being so pernickety about the baby. I explained that guarding against germs doesn’t boost the immunity but it is a great way to reduce stress on the child’s immune system thus making it stronger. Here are a few tweaks we made in our lifestyle:
1. Shoes outside my sweet home: Many people follow this policy especially in the eastern parts of the country but we never did. In fact we used to keep our slippers in the lowest drawer of the bedroom cupboard. But when my son started crawling, we got a closed shoe-rack which looks more like a cupboard but is very sleek. This is what it looks like.
Fig. 1: A closed shoe-rack
Also, we got it installed outside the home so that any dirt from outside doesn’t enter our home. Even guests are recommended to put away their shoes at the doorstep.
2. Flooring: We thought of getting the floor carpeted so that my son doesn’t get hurt by accidentally banging his head on the floor. But our doctor suggested against it. He said that carpet has approximately 200000 bacteria per square inch and is more susceptible to storing germs for a longer period of time. Also in a city like Delhi where dust is as common as the air we breathe, it is next to impossible to vacuum clean the carpet completely. Instead, he suggested using cotton rugs on the floor with cotton sheets. Change the sheets regularly.
3. The Toothbrush Philosophy: If your child catches a cold or a cough then throw out his brush after recovery. Firstly the virus can hop from 1 toothbrush to another, infecting other members of the family. Secondly, there is a possibility of the child being re-infected.
4. Cleaning: Have you ever wondered that whatever cleaning you do, be it kitchen top, mopping or dusting, you just don’t feel like touching that rag ever. The servant comes, does her part, washes it and hangs it dry. This piece of old cloth silently hangs on the kitchen sink or a balcony and becomes a store for millions of germs. When you believe that you are cleaning the surface, you are actually spreading the germs all along. The sponge which is much more common these days on the kitchen top provides all favorable conditions for the germs to multiply and reside in the deep pores. The basic funda of cleaning is that ‘Soap and water just wash the germs away but the disinfectants kill the germs right away.
Here are a few cleaning fundas that I follow,
- Use a cotton rag for dusting, mopping and cleaning purposes. It is easier to wash and doesn’t retain moisture like a sponge and hence lesser possibility of germs piling up.
- Daily quick wash the rags in the washing machine. Add a cap full of disinfectant in the last rinse (just to be extra cautious). It does mean extra detergent daily but this definitely goes a long way in keeping your home clean and germ-free.
- Anything that can be carried to the sink, should be washed thoroughly with warm water and soap. Everything else should be cleaned with a diluted soapy solution of disinfectant. Personally, I use a home-made solution of liquid soap, water and Dettol disinfectant liquid and store it in a spray bottle for cleaning around the house.
- A research from the National Sanitation Foundation International reveals that the germiest areas in the home are kitchen sinks, dish rags, stove knobs, sponges, faucet handles, refrigerator handles, and toothbrush holders. Pay extra attention to them.
- For mopping use a cap full of disinfectant in a bucket of water and change the water after cleaning one room.
5. Quick De-Clutter: Once your kid starts crawling you will find most of the items on the floor. To quickly organise the house keep some spare baskets to pick up all the stuff and keep aside. You can organize them later at your whims and fantasies. Also, keep some spare cotton rags for accidental spills.
I might sound stupid but also try crawling on the floor and see what all dangerous things your kid can find on his way of exploration. Also, have a look at your hands and pants after crawling to analyse if the cleaning is done properly. You might look moronic to the elder generation and they might even call you obnoxious and a maniac but ignore the flak. Our grannies raised their kids in accordance with their times. Now it is your turn to raise your kids as per the changing winds. Health, hygiene and growth have been important for ages but now we need an added layer of protection against the illness-causing germs. Make it stronger with your unconditional love and care. While doing so just remember that in future it won’t matter if you proved to be the best mom in the eyes of this society. What matters is that your child should consider you to be the best mom forever and ever.
This article is sponsored by Dettol and first published here.