by Jennifer Bright Reich
Did you know that people commonly advise moms of twins to save time by using one utensil to feed both babies?
Is it faster? Probably.
Healthier? Definitely not!
“When you share utensils, it’s like giving germs from one baby a FastPass directly into the other baby’s mouth,” says Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, a mom of three sons, a family physician, and coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, in Lexington, KY..
“Using the same spoon to feed two babies spreads germs,” adds Jennifer Gilbert, DO, a mom of boy-girl twins and an ob-gyn at Paoli Hospital, in Pennsylvania. “When you have twins, it’s hard to totally keep everything separate. Twins are always drinking from each other’s sippy cups and eating each other’s snacks.”
To avoid the spread of germs, moms of twins have to do the best they can to keep everything within their control separate. Utensils certainly fit into that category!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the mouth is home to millions of germs, including germs that cause colds. Babies haven’t yet developed immunity to the 100+ different viruses that cause colds, and so babies catch a lot of colds. According to the US National Library of Medicine, some babies get 16 to 20 colds before their second birthdays.
The germs that cause colds are extremely hardy. They can live on objects for several hours. Babies can pick up those germs when they touch someone’s hand or pick up food, a toy, or eat from a utensil.
Most people would probably agree it’s prudent not to share utensils between sick babies. Having one sick baby heightens your awareness about the spread of germs. If one of your babies gets sick, the other baby might be able to fight off the cold. But if family members share utensils, repeating exposure to the germs, the baby is more likely to get sick.
“I was especially vigilant when my babies were actively coming down with something,” says Susan Wilder, MD, a mom of a daughter and twin girls and a family physician and founder and CEO of Lifescape Medical Associates in Scottsdale, AZ. [link to www.LifeScapeMed.com]
Keeping babies’ utensils separate is actually a great policy to use all of the time. Why? Because babies can be contagious before you’re even aware of it.
“Using the same spoon could spread germs before you even know your kids are sick,” Dr. Gilbert says. “Bacteria and viruses are often spread before symptoms are evident.”
Preventing the spread of germs is especially critical in twins, who might have been born prematurely. Pediatricians urge moms of twins to limit their exposure to people with colds and illnesses until their second birthdays. If babies’ lungs weren’t fully developed at birth, they’re more likely to develop asthma if they have frequent colds.
Another danger of sharing utensils is people with tooth decay can transfer those germs to babies. Yes, you read that right: You can literally catch cavities from other people. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, parents need to avoid all saliva-sharing behaviors, including sharing spoons and other utensils, sharing cups, and cleaning dropped pacifiers or toys with their mouths.
Using two spoons, not one, is a key to keeping the colds and cavities away. A clever product to try is the Twin Feeding Set. Created by mom of twins Heather Karpinsky, it’s two spoons joined at the handle, allowing moms to feed one baby with each. [link to http://www.babya-babyb.com/] The Twin Feeding Set costs $16.99 (includes shipping), and they offer a money back guarantee. Save 20 percent with the coupon code MOMMYMD. Visit www.babya-babyb.com for more information.
About the author: Jennifer Bright Reich is the coauthor of the MommyMD Guides books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Getting Your Baby to Sleep and mommymdguides.com, in Allentown, PA