- Babies need lots of attention and physical contact to stimulate healthy development and to bond with you. All of your interactions with your baby are important—holding her, feeding her, changing her diaper, calming her when she cries, talking and singing to her and making faces back and forth.
- Babies are dependent on their caregivers. Child development experts say that one of the most important things babies learn in their first year is trust—that when they’re hungry you’ll feed them, when they’re cold, you’ll warm them up, and when they’re lonely or bored, you’ll play with them.
- Babies under 3 months of age are especially needy. And crying is their way of telling you they need something. It’s good to pick up your baby when she cries—it won’t spoil her. In fact, studies have shown that when babies cry and you pick them up promptly and take care of their needs, they develop a strong sense of security and reduced stress and anxiety, and they end up crying less overall.
- Some pediatric experts refer to babies’ first three months of life as “the fourth trimester of pregnancy.” They suggest that young infants would be more comfortable in an environment similar to the womb where they are constantly held tightly, kept warm and rocked. It is naturally comfortable and reassuring for young babies to be held, swaddled and rocked, and it has been found to be particularly helpful for fussy or colicky babies.
- After the first few months, babies start showing us that they want a little more independence. They may still enjoy being held, but they also become more interested in looking at and exploring their surroundings.
- It is good for their development to have some time when they’re not being held. For example, you can put a 4-month-old baby on her back on a blanket on the floor and she’ll enjoy waving her arms and grabbing her feet. Or put her on her tummy to practice pushing up her head and chest, which will help her learn to roll over and then crawl. As you become attuned to your baby’s cues, you will learn when she is content observing the world and playing on her own, and when she needs to be held.
- Every child and every parent is different. Some babies need lots of attention, and others are happy sleeping a lot or entertaining themselves. Some parents want to hold their babies most of the time, and others want their babies to learn to be comfortable playing and sleeping alone. Different cultures also have different customs about how much babies should be held vs. left alone. Parents need to figure out what seems to feel right and work best for them and their baby.
- Support baby’s head whenever changing her and especially when bathing.
- Make the baby’s room off limits to your pet, no matter how cute they seem together.
- “Back to Sleep” is still the rule for SIDS prevention.
- No jogger strollers yet—it’s too early for baby. Be sure the stroller or carriage you use meets safety standards.
- Don’t hold a baby and a container of hot liquid at the same time.
As Baby Grows
- As your baby grows and new developmental changes start taking place you will find it necessary to make some adjustments in order to allow your baby to adapt to the new surroundings in a safe manner.
- As she develops she will start reaching out, rolling over, scooting, crawling, and eventually pulling herself up against furniture and walls.
- Expand the baby-proofing territory to include any part of the house baby may visit.
- To keep your baby safe as she develops, move appliances, breakables, and cords away from bathing and diaper-changing areas.
- If baby is very active, start changing diapers on a surface that is lower to the ground. Otherwise, make sure to keep at least one hand on baby at all times while changing. Don’t take your eyes off baby for a second. Being mobile makes baby an unstoppable exploring machine.
- Bathing is slippery enough as it is. Keep the soap, lotions, and oils completely out of reach.
- Lower the crib mattress to the middle notch.
- When children are ill it is natural to want to relieve their symptoms; fever, earache, runny nose, cough, etc. Medications are often overused and can be hazardous to children when used improperly.
- The overuse of antibiotics around the world has led to the development of ’resistant’ bacteria—diseases that no longer respond to those antibiotics. Currently there is a worldwide campaign to use antibiotics only when necessary and as prescribed to treat diagnosed bacterial illnesses.
- Viruses rather than bacteria cause most childhood illnesses (e.g., colds, flu, and most sore throats, coughs and ear infections). They get better on their own within three-five days, and antibiotics do not help. If the doctor explains your child’s illness is likely caused by a virus, don’t expect a prescription for antibiotics. If the doctor diagnoses a bacterial illness and prescribes antibiotics, complete the entire course of medicine as prescribed, even if your child starts feeling better in a couple of days.
- Medical experts believe we shouldn’t automatically treat every fever with medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. A fever is the body’s natural response that actually helps fight off illnesses and is usually not harmful to a child if it is less than 106 degrees F. If your child has a fever over 102degrees F, medication might make him more comfortable. But for low-grade fevers under 102 degrees, try to comfort the child in other ways than with medication: avoid over-bundling and overheating, frequently offer sips of clear liquids or a popsicle, lay a cool compress on his forehead, stroke his head or tummy, sing to him, and tell him stories.
- Many parents give their children cough and cold medications that contain antihistamines and decongestants, but studies show these generally do not help relieve children’s symptoms or speed their recovery from colds. In addition, they can cause unwanted side effects: antihistamines can cause drowsiness; and decongestants can cause agitation, difficulty sleeping, and thickening of the mucus which can make it harder to clear.
- Some adults also give children herbal medications. These medications have not been adequately tested for safety or effectiveness in children, and analyses have found widely varying amounts of the key ingredients. There have even been reports of children who had severe reactions to some preparations.
- Every medication—even the safest—can have potentially dangerous side effects. Antibiotics can cause allergic reactions. An overdose of acetaminophen (Tylenol, Panadol, Tempra) can cause severe liver damage. Too often, children get poisoned when they get into medications that are not properly stored, or when adults give them the wrong dose.
- Read the label carefully to make sure you give the right dose. Prescription labels state the dose for your child; over-the-counter medicines state the dose for a child’s age and/or weight category. Don’t trust your memory because medicines are easy to confuse. Just because a child takes 1 tsp. of one medicine doesn’t mean that’s his dose for all medicines. For the fever-reducers acetaminophen and ibuprofen, there are two different liquid preparations for children: infant drops and children’s suspension. The infant drops are more concentrated and require a smaller dose of medicine than the children’s suspension.
- Only give medicine that is approved for the child’s age. If the label says, “Under 2 years old, check with your physician”, don’t guess on the dose—ask the doctor. Don’t give children aspirin—it can cause a rare condition called Reye Syndrome which can lead to brain damage.
- Use a proper measuring device; don’t use a household teaspoon which can vary in size. Use the measuring device provided with the medication such as a medicine dropper or syringe, cylindrical medicine spoon, or plastic medicine cup. These measure in different units: ml. or cc, tsp., Tbsp., or oz. Make sure the measurement unit on your measuring device is what’s required on the label.
- Find the telephone number for Poison Control in the emergency services section of your phone book and keep it posted near your telephone. In the event of an overdose or poisoning, try to stay calm and call Poison Control. Be prepared to tell them:
- the name of the medication
- the dose or amount
- the time the child took it
- the child’s age and weight
- medical conditions the child has or other medications he is taking
- the child’s symptoms
- Your location and how long it takes to reach a hospital. Poison Control will tell you whether there is any danger and what to do. Follow their instructions closely.