Use soap and water for your newborn – not antibacterial wipes

New research shows babies need to be exposed to bacteria in first 2 weeks of life

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Using antibacterial wipes and gels around your newborn could do more harm than good, new research suggests.

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Parents of newborns are now being advised to use soap and water instead of antibacterial gels and wipes to clean their hands and surfaces in the first 2 weeks of a baby’s life.

A number of recent studies have suggested that by over-protecting children from household germs, we’re actually increasing their risk of developing allergies such as asthma. 

Now, new research published in the journal Nature Medicine, has found a crucial ‘developmental window’ when exposing babies to normal bacteria can be a good thing. The scientists found that in the first 2 weeks, normal exposure to germs can reduce the risk of your baby developing asthma and other allergies. 

The evidence is so strong that the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have chimed in, advising new parents to use soap and water and avoid commercial antibacterial products.

Remember, though, most baby wipes are not antibacterial. Antibacterial wipes are designed for cleaning surfaces or for wiping dirty toddler hands when you’re out and about. So this research is really about reminding us to relax a little and accept that our homes don’t need to be, and indeed shouldn’t be, sterile places. 

“Parents of newborns do need to take care but people can go too far with an obsession with cleanliness,” explains Louise Silverton, RCM deputy general secretary. 

She explained that good hygiene includes:

  • hand washing before feeding
  • hand washing after nappy changing
  • washing clothes at the right temperature
  • keeping babies away from pets
  • keeping babies away from visitors with infections

But when it comes to washing, the RCM advice for the first couple of weeks is:

  • avoid using antibacterial wipes and gels 
  • soap and water is all you need

“There is really no need for parents to be using antibacterial wipes which can prevent your baby’s natural immunity from developing.”

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MadeForMums Writer – Jessica Gibb

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