How to not panic about germs when you’re a new mum

As a nation (and indeed a planet) we’ve never been more conscious of germs and how scarily fast they can spread and cause chaos. But even before the pandemic, there was already a LONG list of things that new mums worried about when it came to keeping their little ones safe, sound and sanitised.

Along with our friends at AO, we’re here to reassure you with a few facts about the stuff it’s important to keep on top of, versus where you can afford to- in the words of the Disney princess who is likely to take over your life at some point in the next five years- let it go. 

Bottle hygiene

If you’re bottle-feeding your little one, it will have been drummed into you that keeping everything sterilised is crucial. And it’s true – new babies have sensitive tummies, and formula can be a breeding ground for bacteria if you don’t follow the guidance. The trouble is, that guidance has changed a lot over the years, so when you might have your big sister telling you it’s fine to store bottles in the fridge overnight, a mate insisting that prep machines are dangerous, and your mother-in-law regaling you with stories of rusks in bottles from day 3 and her babies turning out JUST FINE (here’s where you throw a side-eye at your grubby partner), it can all be a bit confusing and overwhelming. We would recommend familiarising yourself with the NHS guidelines, blocking out the noise and employing a degree of common sense.

Keeping toys clean 

As soon as they discover their hands aren’t just super-cute accessories, babies love putting things in their mouths – their fingers, your hair, and anything they can grab hold of. It is, of course, impossible to keep everything as clean as you might like (especially your hair – who has the time?), but when it comes to toys and teething accessories, a dishwasher is a huge help. Hotpoint’s latest models have sanitising options which eliminate 99.9999%* of bacteria, all the brightly-coloured plastic littering your floor can go straight into the dishwasher, and you can relax while it does its thing overnight, ready for it to all be dribbled on again tomorrow.

*Tested and certified by VDE Prüf- und Zertifizierungsinstitut GmbH and Swissatest Testmaterialien AG.

Cuddles from strangers (and well-meaning acquaintances)

This one makes us sad, because it’s the one that has gone from being a vague concern to a total no-go over the past year. In fact, there are many babies in the land who’ve only ever been cuddled by their own parents. In normal times, while everyone you’ve ever met – and a few people you haven’t – wanting to get their hands on your baby can be a bit annoying (it can also, of course, be amazing if it means you actually get your hands to yourself for two minutes), it isn’t a huge hygiene drama.

It’s definitely more than fine to not want someone to kiss, nuzzle and generally breathe all over your baby – and if they have cold sores, you should 100% give them a wide berth, since they can have serious health implications for babies – but generally, outside of a pandemic, just do what you’re comfortable with, hand sanitizer optional. The fact is, your baby will likely catch quite a few colds and other germs in that first year or two, followed by all sorts of delightful ailments when they start school or nursery. It’s all just part of life’s snotty path.

The great pre-wash debate

It’s a third trimester rite of passage – washing everything your baby might wear, possibly more than once, and then lovingly sorting all those tiny vests and socks into cute little piles that make your heart sing. The problem is, when the baby actually comes, and is getting through several outfits a day thanks to their various not-very-advanced bodily functions, even more laundry is not what you need. So, if you’re drowning in hand-me-downs and box-fresh presents, do you wash them before they wear them or not?

We recently witnessed a debate about this on a mum chat and it got seriously heated. Some people (nervous hi!) have never pre-washed an item in their life, others do it routinely, even to their own grown-up clothes, due to worries about how many grubby hands have been on them ahead of wearing. There’s no hard and fast rule here – you’ll have your own standards, and you shouldn’t be judged for them. But it’s worth bearing in mind that many little ones have sensitive skin – something Hotpoint is well aware of, hence the Steam hygiene cycle on models like this, endorsed by Allergy UK, being ideal for baby clothes. Courtesy of some very clever tech, it removes up to 99.9% of common bacteria without the use of chemical additives. 

Again, we say use common sense. A coat or jumper that’s only ever going to be an outward layer? Maybe don’t bother washing before wearing. Adorable little sleepsuits that are right against their skin? Prewashing could give you peace of mind. And really, that’s what this is all about.

This content is brought to you by AO on behalf of Hotpoint- the appliances that help you take care of what matters most. AO is the perfect partner to shop Hotpoint and all other home appliances thanks to its four-hour delivery slots and its 200,000 5-star reviews on Trust Pilot for their impeccable service. Shop Hotpoint Hygiene Appliances now at AO.com