The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following for creating a safe sleep environment for your baby:
- Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.
- Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.
- Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
- Avoid baby’s exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.
Here are a few more tips from Healthy Start to keep your baby sleeping safely:
- Do not allow smoking around your baby. Don’t smoke before or after the birth of your baby, and don’t let others smoke around your baby. There are chemicals in second-hand smoke that affects signals in the child’s brain that interfere with the regulation of their breathing. The CDC has issued a report which states children that die from SIDS have a higher concentration of nicotine and cotinine in their lungs.
- Keep your baby’s sleep area close to, but separate from, where you and others sleep. Your baby should not sleep in a bed, couch, or armchair with adults or other children, however they can sleep in the same room as you in their own crib or cradle. If you bring your baby into bed with you to breastfeed, be sure to put him back into a separate sleep area.
- Use a clean, dry pacifier when placing your infant down to sleep, but don’t force the baby to take it. If you are breastfeeding, wait until the infant is 1 month old or is used to breastfeeding before using a pacifier.
- Do not let your baby overheat during sleep.Dress your baby in light sleep clothing, and keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult.
- Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS because most have not been tested for effectiveness or safety.
- Do not use home monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS.Electronic respiratory and cardiac monitors are available to detect cardiorespiratory arrest and may be of value for home monitoring of selected infants who are deemed to have extreme cardiorespiratory instability. However, there is no evidence that use of such home monitors decreases the incidence of SIDS. Furthermore, there is no evidence that infants at increased risk of SIDS can be identified by in-hospital respiratory or cardiac monitoring.
- Provide “Tummy Time” to reduce the chance that flat spots will develop on your baby’s head.Always have “Tummy Time” when your baby is awake and someone is watching. This helps strengthen their neck, shoulders and arms so they will be able to lift their head. Also, avoid too much time in car seats, carriers, and bouncers.
Feeding Your Baby
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends “exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.”
Breastfed babies have a lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), have less issues with diarrhea and vomiting, fewer incidences of ear infections, and are less likely to suffer from childhood obesity. There are also healthy benefits breastfeeding moms including weight loss and reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer, among other things.
With bottle feeding it is important to mix formula exactly as noted on the formula label. Adding too much water thins the formula, skimping on nutrition. Too little water may be harsh for your baby’s stomach and kidneys.
Most parents start with formula made from cow’s milk. Soy formulas and hypoallergenic formulas are also available. If your baby is younger than 1 year, make sure you use an iron-fortified formula. You can buy formula in powdered, concentrated, or ready-to-use forms. By 6 months of age, your baby should be drinking between 6 and 8 ounces per feeding.
To bottle feed your baby, cradle his or her head a bit higher than the rest of the body. Hold the bottle; don’t prop it up by itself. This can help prevent choking, extra gas, tooth decay, and provide bonding time. It’ll also help you better judge when he’s finished eating. If your baby slows his eating, try burping after every 2 ounces.
Visit http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/ss/slideshow-bottle-feeding for more information on bottle feeding. For more information on sterilizing bottles, visit https://parent.guide/how-to-sterilize-baby-bottles-and-nipples/.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a recommended immunization schedule for children birth to 18 years old in the United States. Click HERE to view. Healthy Start encourages parents to adhere to the schedule to protect your baby’s health.
Car Seat Safety
According to HealthyChildren.org, “one of the most important jobs you have as a parent is keeping your child safe when riding in a vehicle. Each year, thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes. Proper use of car seats helps keep children safe.”
There are several types of car seats on the market. Here is a chart to help you determine which one is best at different stages. [VIEW CHART] For more information about car seat safety, visit https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Car-Safety-Seats-Information-for-Families.aspx.