How To Protect Infant Health

Having a baby is a wonderful gift, but along with the joy comes a large amount of responsibility. If you have an infant in your home, it is important that you take steps to protect her health and safety. Here are some things you can do to safeguard your baby and help give her a healthy start:

    1. Take your baby for wellness checkups with your pediatrician. Generally, infants see the pediatrician every few weeks initially, then every few months for the first year to be sure they are growing well.
    2. Have immunizations as recommended. Infants should to be vaccinated against certain diseases (such as measles, Hepatitis A & B and pneumococcal disease). These vaccinations can often be done during your well visits.
    3. Prevent the spread of germs by washing your hands with soap and warm water and ask everyone else who comes in contact with your infant to do the same.
    4. During flu season, keep your baby home as much as possible.
    5. If you must go out, minimize touching from others. Ask people to look--but not touch--your baby when you are out in public so as to also reduce contact with germs.  Don't get too carried away with cleanliness in general, though, since the latest research has found that youngsters exposed to some germs and dirt actually have lower rates of asthma and allergies.
    6. Put a net over the infant carrier or stroller to keep people's hands away from your little one.
    7. Clean surfaces in your home extremely well if anyone in your family has a cold.
    8. Keep your baby's crib safe. Remove all blankets, stuffed animals and soft bedding, which could pose suffocation hazards.
    9. Always put your baby to sleep on  her back, which minimizes the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
    10. Use an infant car seat that is rear-facing until your baby is at least one year old or 20 pounds or more (always check with the guidelines on your car seat model and follow those guidelines). Also, make sure your car seat is installed correctly in your car. Many police departments or fire stations can check yours for you to be sure it is safe.
    11. Breastfeed your baby if at all possible. Studies have found that breast milk provides important health benefits for babies and reduces their risk of infections and illness.
    12. Take steps to babyproof your house. Remove small objects that could be choking hazards and use outlet covers and cabinet locks wherever necessary. Also keep all medications and household products that are poisonous stored out of reach.
    13. Avoid putting your baby in contact with secondhand smoke. If there is a smoker in your home, ask them to smoke outside or away from your baby, since exposure to smoke can be a factor in developing asthma.
    14. Know that the latest Consumer Reports recommendations advise parents not to use clear plastic bottles, which could potentially cause a hazard. While the dangers are unclear, the best bet is to opt for opaque polyethylene plastic bottles, plastic bottles with disposable liners or glass bottles instead. Visit Baby Center for more information.
    15. Restrain from putting your baby to bed with a bottle of juice or formula, since this can cause tooth decay over time.


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