Protecting Babies from Infection

A newborn baby's immune system is not fully developed and they need extra protection from germs that could cause illness and infection. Simple hygiene measures can offer  protection to newborns. 



One of the effective ways to help stop the spread of germs and protect babies and young children from infection is to wash the hands regularly with soap and clean running water.

Hands should always be washed:

  • Before breastfeeding or preparing formula milk
  • Before and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • After changing a nappy or going to the toilet
  • After coming into contact with blood or body fluid (faeces, urine, vomit or saliva)
  • After touching a potentially contaminated item or surface (cleaning cloth, used tissue, nappy/diaper, potty, waste bin)
  • Before cuddling or a handling baby
  • Whenever your hands look dirty

If soap and clean water are not readily available, an alcohol based hand sanitiser should be used. However, if the hands are dirty, they should always be washed. Use of hand sanitisers by children should be under adult supervision.

[1] World Health Organisation - Diarroea: why children are still dying and what can be done. Available at: 

Diarrhoeal Disease


Where possible, breastfeeding provides the most substantial health benefits for both mother and baby. Breastfeeding is so beneficial because:

  • It reduces the risk of diarrhoea and other common paediatric illnesses
  • A mother’s breast milk is perfectly designed for her baby
  • Breast milk is available for your baby whenever he or she needs it

Where breastfeeding is not possible, a low protein formula milk is the best alternative.


Vaccinating your child against infections is an extremely important measure in ensuring they are as well protected from harmful germs as possible. Three good reasons to have your child vaccinated are:

  • Vaccinations are quick, safe, and extremely effective
  • Once your child has been vaccinated against a disease, their body can fight it off better
  • If a child hasn’t been vaccinated, they’re at a higher risk of catching- and becoming unwell from- the illness


Surface Cleaning 

Areas that babies touch directly, as well as other surfaces frequently touched by family members, should all be hygienically cleaned to ensure germs aren’t transferred on the hands around the home:

  • Kitchen surfaces before and after food preparation
  • Baby changing mats and area
  • Commonly touched areas such as door and other handles, light switches, handrails, keyboards and TV remotes
  • Areas that may harbour germs such as bins, taps and toilet flush handles and seats
  • As babies develop, ensure high chairs and cots are kept hygienically clean

Hygienically Clean Laundry

Bedding and baby clothing can often harbour infection causing germs from faeces, vomit and food. To ensure laundry is hygienically clean it is important to:

  • Wash all baby’s bedding and clothing at high temperatures (greater than 60⁰C)
  • If washing at lower temperatures or hand washing add an appropriate laundry disinfectant or laundry sanitiser to the wash
  • Try to sun dry fabrics