Your newborn baby is vulnerable and dependent on you for appropriate care. Following fundamental safety guidelines established by your pediatrician will ensure your baby is safe and healthy. For the first year of life, your baby will spend most of her time sleeping and eating. There are certain precautions that should be taken so your baby does not get sick or suffer a life-threatening condition. The dos and don’ts of newborn care require that you be alert, attentive and prepared.
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Always pay close attention to your baby. Never leave her unattended during bath time. You cannot hold your baby too much. In fact, research suggests if you do hold, bond and touch your baby, you may promote her brain development as well as emotional, physical and mental growth. Do read, talk and sing to your baby and give her direct eye contact. Although you may experience fatigue and grow impatient, never shake, spank or yell at your baby.
Take your child to the doctor at regularly scheduled visits. Don’t skip doctor visits or rely on home remedies to treat her when she is ill. Ask your doctor any questions about your baby, and do not feel embarrassed or feel that your questions are insignificant. Your pediatrician will recommend immunizations at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 12 months.
Do not feed your baby whole cow’s milk if she is less than 12 months. Your newborn should also not drink low-fat, almond, soy or rice milk. Feed your baby either breast milk or FDA-approved formula. Breast milk is best, but formula will also provide essential vitamins and minerals. Use sterile water when preparing formula and clean bottles and nipples thoroughly. Feed your baby on demand or at least every 2 to 3 hours. Don’t allow your baby to sleep through feedings.
Do not place your baby on her stomach to sleep. To reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, allow your baby to sleep on her back. The mattress crib should be safety approved, firm and covered with a sheet. Do not let your baby sleep with stuffed animals, toys, pillows or soft objects. Keep the temperature comfortable as she sleeps and dress her in light pajamas so she does not overheat, and avoid quilts and blankets.
Use a car seat when your baby is traveling in a car. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions when you strap the car seat into the car and the baby in the car seat. Never place the car seat in the front seat. As your baby begins to crawl and walk, baby-proof your home by covering electrical outlets, removing harmful cleaning products from her reach and making sure there are no small items she can easily take and put in her mouth because she may choke.