Maintaining Basic Hygiene
Keep your family healthy by following these practices:
- Washing hands – wash your hands with soap and water for 15 seconds before feeding your baby, after using the bathroom or handling diapers, handling pets, sneezing, or coughing. Make sure your older children do this as well.
- Cleanliness – keep high chairs, bibs, and eating areas clean by washing with water and soap after each use. Clean and sanitize other surfaces in the home. It is important to clean the surfaces that your baby will come in contact with. These include floors, toys, teething rings, crib, stroller, and changing table.
General Home Safety Tips
Childproof your home before your baby begins moving around:
- Fasten carpet on stairs and remove loose rugs to avoid falling while carrying your baby.
- Post poison control, ambulance, and health care provider’s numbers and other emergency numbers near each phone so you can find them quickly.
- Install smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher. Plan an escape route to help you and your baby get out safely in case of fire.
- Check your smoke detector batteries once a month or as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Remove leaded PVC mini‑blinds from your home. Do not have any dangling cords in or near the baby’s crib or the floor.
- Fasten furniture such as bookcases or television stands that could fall in an earthquake.
- Know how to help a choking baby. Courses on basic first aid and baby and home safety may be available through community centres, St. John Ambulance, and the Red Cross. Check with your public health office for courses in your area.
To prevent burns:
- never hold your baby while:
- drinking a hot drink like coffee or tea
- cooking, or handling a hot utensil
- check the temperature of bottles on the inside of your wrist
- check bath water temperature by using your elbow
- keep the temperature in your hot water heater below 49°C (120°F)
Visit the BC Children’s Hospital website for more tips to prevent scalding.
Keeping your baby safe:
- Toys should be soft, non‑toxic, and washable. Toys that have no removable small parts or sharp edges are best.
- Keep small objects, such as pins (e.g., large diaper pins), coins, buttons, marbles, and batteries, out of reach and in safe containers.
- Keep one hand on your baby at all times during diaper changes.
- Keep all objects out of the crib and out of reach.
- Move baby’s crib away from long mobiles, blinds, or curtain cords to avoid strangling.
- Never leave your baby alone with a toddler, a pet, a bottle, or on a soft surface. For more information about pet safety, click here.
- Always ask door‑to‑door canvassers and service personnel for ID. Public health nurses will call to make an appointment and should also be wearing identification.
For more information, see the BC Children’s Hospital Home Safety Checklist.
Some Toys are Not for Chewing and Sucking
Your baby should only chew and suck on toys that have been specifically made for a baby’s mouth (such as teethers and soothers).
Don’t let your baby suck or chew on any soft plastic (vinyl) toys and items that weren’t made for a baby’s mouth. Many soft vinyl items (such as vinyl bibs, school supplies, or bath toys contain chemicals which can cause health problems.
Drinking Water Safety
If you get your drinking water from a private well or other non-regulated source such as a creek or lake, get the water tested by a laboratory to ensure the drinking water is safe. Harmful bacteria and chemicals can be found in untreated water. For example, high levels of nitrates have been found in wells throughout the province. High levels of nitrates can be dangerous for babies. Nitrates interfere with the ability of the blood to carry oxygen. In severe cases, this can cause death.
For more information about the dangers of nitrates in well water, see the HealthLink BC file Nitrate Contamination in Well Water.
To protect your baby:
- Breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and continue to breastfeed for two years or more.
- Get well water and other non-regulated water tested by a laboratory to find out if it is safe to drink. For more information, see the HealthLink BC file Should I Get My Well Water Tested?
- Never give your baby well water that has not been tested and found safe.
- Never give your baby formula mixed with well water that has not been tested and found safe.
- If you get your drinking water from a creek, river, or lake, boil it and cool it before giving it to your baby. Boiling kills bacteria but does not remove chemicals.
- Boil any type of water for one minute and then cool it to 70°C before mixing it with formula. For more information on safely preparing infant formula, visit the Health Canada website.