I know we all dream of the day when our multiples share everything, but there are some things you do not want them to share – and that is germs! Unfortunately this is one of the downsides of twins and multiples. It is very common for them to share their germs. Germs are either spread from person to person or from touching unclean surfaces, such as trolley handles and door knobs. When you have twins or multiples, it is really hard to stop them from sharing their toys. More often than not they will take toys from each others mouths and put them straight into their own mouth. This of course significantly increases the chance of spreading the germs.
If one of your multiples has started showing signs of getting sick, then it may already be too late and it will only be a matter of time before the next one gets it. With a lot of germ based diseases you are contagious before the symptoms show up. Keeping everyone healthy is not easy. Hopefully by adopting these five tips you will prevent, or at least minimise, the spread of germs between twins and multiples.
Here are 5 ways of minimising the spread of germs between twins and multiples.
1. Wash those hands
Many viruses are spread from hand-to-mouth contact. As a time poor twin mother myself I know there were many occasions where I skimped on the hand washing. But when one of your multiples or twins is sick you need to be extra vigilant on the hand washing. Wash after nappy changes, before feeding them and so forth. If they are really sick with a gastro type bug use a new pair of rubber gloves for each nappy change.
If you have older multiples then you need to enforce that their handwashing is paramount, particularly before eating and after coughing, sneezing or going to the toilet. One tip is to teach them to sing “Happy Birthday” TWICE while washing their hands, as this will take roughly the same amount of time that experts recommend that you should wash your hands for.
2. Don’t let them share dummies or feeding or drinking implements
I know you automatically roll your eyes when the Child Health nurse or GP tell you to use a separate spoon or water bottle or whatever for each baby, but when they are sick it is really important to do this. Sharing things like spoons between babies will increase the likelihood of sharing the germs significantly. Make sure you each child uses their own things, at least until they are all healthy again. Colour coding cups and plates etc is a good way for sick children to easily identify which cup is theirs.
If your children are older, don’t let them eat of each others plates or share cups. While “share plates” are normally fabulous for morning and afternoon tea, this is not the time to use them. Serve each child in their own dish.
3. Sanitise their toys
It’s worth evaluating what toys you can put away (so you don’t have to clean them later!) if your multiples start getting sick. Soft toys can be washed in the washing machine. Add a hygienic laundry rinse to the wash to minimise the risk of cross contamination between the sick and well children.
A lot of dishwashers these days have a sterilisation setting on then. This is useful for plastic toys (make sure you don’t put battery operated toys in there though!). For those that can’t be washed, make sure you wipe them down with a child friendly germ killer.
If your multiples are older, make sure you sanitise things like I-pads, phones and TV remotes. These can harbour lots of germs, particularly as they are often used a lot for entertainment when people are sick. Don’t forget to sanitise the door and fridge handles as well. Hopefully by doing this you will prevent, or at least minimise, the spread of germs between twins and multiples.
4. Separate them as much as possible
If they are not yet mobile, separate them to different parts of the lounger room. If they are mobile it’s a lot harder to keep them separate, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. You may need to isolate the sick one in a play pen or something similar.
If your multiples share a cot/bed/room, now would be a good time to separate them. If you can use the spare room or your room for a few nights not only will it help contain the spread of germs but it may also mean you might get a bit more sleep. Hopefully the sick one won’t wake the well ones if they are separated.
5. Look after yourself
I know it’s hard when your babies are sick, but it is really important that you need to look after yourself so you don’t get sick as well. This means you need to eat well, drink lots of water and rest as much as you can. Looking after multiple sick babies while you are sick as well is really hard. So do whatever you can do to avoid getting sick yourself.
I know it is hard, but parents need to try to avoid giving their little sick darlings kisses. Saliva and mucus (both of which seem to exponentially increase during colds and so forth) are prime carriers of germs. So by avoiding kissing them on the lips, cheeks and hands especially, you are well on your way to minimising the spread.
Don’t beat yourself up if they do pass their germs to each other. In all