Earlier today I wrote about the importance of keeping your hands clean and germ-free in order to help maintain your preemie's good health. Without a doubt, this is the number one thing you can do to protect your child. It's also important to make sure that any friends, family, or strangers who will be very near to or handling your child also practice meticulous hand washing. What can be difficult is knowing how to ask without offending someone.
The most important thing, I believe, is to make sure that you always have the necessary materials available and (pardon the pun) handy. You shouldn't expect others to pack their own antibacterial gels or wipes, nor is it particularly kind to expect them to run off to a washroom all the time. Stock these products in convenient places throughout your home as well as your car and diaper bag. If you're having a family gathering, station someone at the door (a teen or 'tween girl is fantastic for this job) to hand everyone the sanitizer. You could even make it fun and put an assortment of scents in a little basket.
I also think it's smart to keep some masks at your home. Yes, it's a little odd having to wear a mask around, but it can really give you peace of mind when you (or someone else) is fighting a cold or tummy bug. If I asked someone visiting to wear a mask, I would usually wear one as well. My thinking was that this might make it feel less "odd" for the visitor.
Before you even bring your baby home, start talking about the importance of vigilant hand-washing with your friends and family. If you lay the groundwork, all you'll have to do is hand them the sanitizer later on and they'll already be expecting it.
It's a little trickier with strangers and that's part of why so many doctors recommend you limit how much you take your baby out. I agree with that recommendation, but I also know how hard it can be. Face it- some things just need to get done. And, well, sometimes you need to see people and things outside your own four walls. If you need to get out, try to follow one of these suggestions in order to avoid too much germy contact....
- keep your baby in the infant seat either in the stroller or inside a cart and covered with a blanket
- wear your baby in a sling
- or, in a pinch, carry your baby close to your shoulder with a blanket fully covering him/her; it will look like you're nursing and people are far less likely to poke at your baby then