As soon as your baby can crawl, she’ll start to put anything and everything into her mouth. But what’s really dirty, and what’s just kind of gross?
The scary reality is that germs are everywhere. If someone with a cold sneezes or coughs, germs can land on surfaces and then be spread by touch. You may not be able to completely shelter your baby, but you can help limit germ exposure by washing your own hands often and using sanitizing wipes on public surfaces she comes into contact with, like shopping-cart handles and changing tables.
When it comes to dropped pacifiers or food, forget the five-minute rule: any transfer of germs, dirt or what-have-you happens on contact. Consider where it dropped: if it’s a clean floor at home, a quick rise to wash off lint and germs is probably plenty. But if a pacifier falls on the floor of a rest-stop bathroom, you’ll probably want to take that one out of circulation until you can fully sanitize by submerging it in boiling water for 15 minutes.
If you see your baby stuff in an unidentified object in her mouth, sweep her mouth with a finger first and ask questions later. Most floor stuff is harmless, but there’s always a small possibility the baby has gotten hold of something dangerous. Lock up medications, cleaning supplies and poisonous plants, and keep the poison-control number by your phone, just in case.