How National Handwashing Week Can Help Keep Your Baby Safe

As the winter season begins, so does the likelihood of weakened immune systems. In fact, scientists at Yale University recently confirmed that cooler weather does make people more prone to getting sick.

Clean hands

Baby’s Immune System

If you just delivered a newborn baby, congratulations, Mom! Now is the time to enjoy your new bundle of joy, while protecting his or her health, especially with well-intended visitors. Did you know that your baby’s immune system doesn’t develop until he or she is 3 months old? This is why, during the first few weeks of life, babies are vulnerable to infections. Research identifies over 150 bacteria species exists on just one hand, and it becomes evident that your baby is quite susceptible to infections or illness.

National Handwashing Day

Most people assume handwashing is common sense, however not everyone does it, and not everyone does it properly. Respiratory infections such as adenovirus and hand-foot-mouth disease are often spread through germs on unwashed hands. An astonishing 1 trillion germs can be found in just one gram of human feces. No wonder health professionals emphasize handwashing after going to the bathroom. National Handwashing Week, occurs December 2 through 8 initiated by Dr. Will Sawyer, an infection control specialist and family physician, in an effort to help reduce illness and promote better hygiene.

Handwashing Education Keeps Communities Healthy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular handwashing reduces diarrhea by 23 to 40 percent, while weakened immune systems related to diarrhea decreased 58 percent. Reduction of respiratory illnesses such as colds went down 16 to 21 percent and gastrointestinal illnesses in schoolchildren lessened by 29 to 57 percent.

When & How To Wash Your Hands

  • Before and after cooking and eating.
  • After going to the bathroom and after blowing nose.
  • After changing a diaper.
  • Wash hands in warm water with soap for 20 seconds (when teaching kids, you can have them sing through the ABCs).
  • Dry hands completely after washing as any wetness can harbor bacteria.
  • Hand sanitizer may be used in lieu of soap/water only when there is no visible dirtiness on hands.

Final Takeaway

As adults we’re told to wash our hands to prevent germs from spreading. This is even more true with babies, toddlers and young children. Their little immune systems are trying to get strong and fight off infections. While these stats are worrisome and can be alarming, many illnesses can be avoided with proper handwashing frequency and techniques.


Take time this winter to teach your little ones how to properly wash their hands, and kindly ask visitors to scrub-up before holding your newest addition to the family, for a healthier holiday season.