As gorgeous as your baby looks to you on the outside, inside, their gut is lined with a living, slithery, mucousy layer of slime called the microbiome. This incredible living shield of trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses populates your baby’s gut from the moment of birth.
Your baby is not born with their incredible living shield, though. Your womb, and therefore your baby, is completely clear of any bacteria or viruses: your baby is a “blank canvas”. Yet, once they are born, they need their skin and gut to be filled with their own incredible living shield of bacteria, fungi and viruses, which they’ll get from contact with your skin, the air around them, and – at the time of their birth - your poo!
Your baby wants just the good microbes, though, and preferably the ones that they’ll encounter when they get home - not the trillions of bacteria that live in the hospital and on the staff.
This amazing protection, the first line of defence against infections and diseases, is as unique to your baby as their fingerprint and those early days are the perfect time to start building and strengthening their unique and incredible invisible shield.
- Have immediate skin-to-skin contact with your baby as soon as possible after birth as this helps the transfer of the shield.
- Don’t worry about pooing in labour, nature has made sure that one of the first bacteria your baby comes into contact with are your own gut bacteria, your microbiome.
- During babyhood, encourage skin-to-skin contact with the other parent and any siblings.
- If you share your home with a dog or a cat, they will trample trillions of beneficial bacteria that they’ve picked up from the soil through your home, boosting your baby’s shield. Just make sure that your pet is visibly clean, so no poo or urine come near your baby.
- Care for your baby’s skin by knowing what helps and protects this shield and what can disrupt it.