Some germs here and there may not affect you, but they can take over your newborn’s little body and make her sick. Babies have weak immune systems, which need time to develop. That’s why it’s so important for you to be vigilant in avoiding germs when taking your newborn out. Here are some practical ways you can do that.
Sanitize the shopping cart and your hands
Shopping cart handles are the dirtiest things you touch in a grocery store. Who knows how many people have touched, coughed on, or sneezed on your shopping cart? In fact, a study performed by researchers from the University of Arizona found that total bacteria levels found on shopping carts are significantly higher than bacteria levels in public restrooms (gross!). So if a grocery store has a wipes dispenser, grab a few and wipe the handle and top of the basket down. It’s also a good shopping habit to keep disinfecting wipes in your diaper bag just in case a store doesn’t have any.
Along with the shopping cart, you should also worry about keeping your hands clean. We’re not saying you need to pull out your travel-sized hand sanitizer every time you touch an item. That’s unrealistic. But you should clean your hands after touching raw meat and poultry. You should also put your packages of chicken breasts and ground beef in their own plastic bags. And keep your newborn away from raw meat, so there’s no chance of him touching it and picking up a bacterial infection. That’s one reason you should use a shopping cart hammock. It attaches to the top of a shopping cart, so your baby lies safely above all the food in your cart.
Wash your hands before touching your newborn
The door leading into the grocery store, the shopping cart handle, the credit card machine buttons—the number of germ-filled places you touch at a grocery store is never-ending. Your newborn may not get sick from being inside a grocery store, but she may get sick if you opened the freezer door for ice cream and then touched her face right after. You should wash your hands with soap and water before touching your baby, but if washing your hands isn’t an option, at least use hand sanitizer.
Don’t give your newborn anything that falls on the floor
Did your baby’s pacifier fall on the floor? Don’t wipe it off on your shirt and stick it back in his mouth. The five-second rule may work at home—where you know your floor is clean—but it doesn’t at a grocery store. Keep a spare pacifier in your diaper bag and give the clean one to him if the other one gets dirty. If you don’t have a spare, go wash the pacifier thoroughly with soap and hot water before giving it back to your baby.
Bring a disposable changing pad
Nothing may gross you out more as a parent than taking your child into a public restroom. Baby changing stations can look clean, but you have no idea the last time it was cleaned or how good it was cleaned. Lay a disposable changing pad on the changing station before laying your newborn down to change her diaper. After changing her, make sure to clean your hands and your baby’s, especially if she touched any part of the changing area. Germs on hands are far more important to worry about than if her legs or bum touched the changing table.
Skip the free samples
If a store is offering samples of cheese, deli meat, or other food, keep walking. This is especially important if the samples are on a communal tray, if an employee isn’t manning the station, or if the samples look like they’ve been sitting out for a while. A free sample isn’t worth picking up a bacterial infection or sickness from another shopper who grabbed a sample, which you could then unknowingly pass onto your newborn. Sorry if we just ruined your next Costco run!
Avoid busy shopping times
The busiest times to shop are weekdays between 4-6 p.m. and on weekends. Many people also hit the store for drinks and snacks an hour or two before a big televised sporting event. The more people you shop with, the more risk you take of exposing your newborn and yourself to airborne illnesses. Our advice is to shop early in the day, perhaps an hour after the grocery store opens. You’ll beat the coming-home-from-work crowd and also have a great selection of produce to choose from.