Many times parents of preemies are so overwhelmed with all the teaching that is done that they forget many things or, only hear half of what is being said. The most important thing you can do for prevention of infection once your premature infant is allowed to come home is to WASH YOUR HANDS CONSTANTLY. During teaching many parents get the idea, ” Well, the baby is used to my germs. I am the mother”. This is not entirely true. During your time in the NICU, the environment was controlled and you were made to wash your hands. When you take your baby home you may forget to do this every time you or someone else touches your baby. This can put them at very high risk of infection which could ultimately cost them their life. While that sounds harsh, it is something to consider as your baby still has an immature immune system.
Your baby was used to you holding them in this controlled environment but you will be handling them much more when you get home. Baby is used to your clean hands however, not used to the things in your home that you have touched…whatever germs are on your furniture or countertops or bedding. Once infants clothing is washed and dried, it should be put away in a safe place and not touched by others…something so simple as showing an outfit to a friend who has not washed their hands before touching the outfit, can transfer germs onto the outfit that you later put on your baby.Get the picture?
NOTE: A word about hand sanitizers. They do not work against ecoli bacteria. You must wash your hands with soap and water and dry with a paper towel, not with a towel that everyone has dried their hands on.and do not ever let your preemie suck on your finger. I have seen people do this saying , “look how cute”. It is not cute as your baby will be ingesting things it should not. I have seen a baby once that was ten months old that came to the emergency room with alcohol intoxication. It was barely moving. After the authorities were notified and parents were being investigated it was determined that this was caused innocently. However, it was life threatening for the infant . It was determined to be caused by Mom and Dad allowing their other children to hold the baby. They made all the children use hand sanitizer. Good parents, mindful of germs and protecting their baby. However, the siblings then thought is so cute that baby was sucking their finger. The parents thought it was so cute too and not concerned because the kids, after all, sanitized their hands. The baby did recover, thankfully, but after a lot of stress for the parents and a lot of intervention, painful blood tests and an unnecessary hospital bill.
Educate yourself on infection control. Get masks in case you do get a cold or get sick, you can protect your baby by using a mask. It is good to have in your home BEFORE you need them and important you use each mask only once then throw it out. If you take the time to wash your hands each and every time you handle your preemie you will be protecting them from many problems. Hope this information helps. Good luck and many blessings to you and your little one!