See below for information about baby’s first doctor visit, vaccines and safe sleep habits.
First Doctor Visit
You probably will see more of your pediatrician in your baby’s first year than at any other time.
Ideally, both parents should attend these early visits to the doctor. These appointments give you and your pediatrician a chance to get to know each other and exchange questions and answers.
Don’t restrict yourself to medical questions; your pediatrician is also an expert on general child care issues and a valuable resource if you’re looking for child care help, parent support groups, or other outside assistance.
Many pediatricians hand out information sheets that cover the most common concerns, but it’s a good idea to make a list of questions before each visit so you don’t forget any important ones.
If only one parent can attend, try to get a friend or a relative to join the parent who does. It’s much easier to concentrate on your discussions with the doctor if you have a little help dressing and undressing the baby and gathering all of their things.
While you’re getting used to outings with your newborn, an extra adult also can help carry the diaper bag and hold doors. Grandparents can fulfill this role quite well if they live nearby.
The purpose of these early checkups is to make sure your child is growing and developing properly and has no serious abnormalities.
Use your own immune system to protect your baby.
The Tdap and flu vaccines your provider recommends for pregnant women are really important for your baby.
Before delivery, any antibodies that you make pass into baby. Studies of pregnant women vaccinated before delivery found that their babies are at much less risk of influenza and whooping cough in the early months of life. Use baby’s immune system.
Your baby’s natural immune system responds well to vaccinations.
Hepatitis B vaccine is the only vaccine we recommend before 2 months and it is safe, well tolerated by baby, and the only way to prevent a serious childhood infection.
Several thousand children become infected with Hepatitis B each year in our country and up to 90% of those kids develop liver complications.
Click here to read more about vaccines.
Five Important Reasons to Vaccinate Your Child
But, did you know that one of the best ways to protect your children is to make sure they have all of their vaccinations?
Immunizations Can Save Your Child’s Life.
Because of advances in medical science, your child can be protected against more diseases than ever before.
Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children, have been eliminated completely and others are close to extinction– primarily due to safe and effective vaccines. Polio is one example of the great impact that vaccines had have in the United States.
Polio was once America’s most-feared disease, causing death and paralysis across the country, but today, thanks to vaccination, there are no reports of polio in the United States.
Vaccination Is Very Safe And Effective.
Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals.
Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and trauma of the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare.
The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children.
Immunization Protects Others You Care About.
Children in the U.S. still get vaccine-preventable diseases.
In fact, we have seen resurgences of measles and whooping cough (pertussis) over the past few years.
Since 2010, there have been between 10,000 and 50,000 cases of whooping cough each year in the United States and about 10 to 20 babies, many of which were too young to be fully vaccinated, died each year.
While some babies are too young to be protected by vaccination, others may not be able to receive certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia, or other reasons.
To help keep them safe, it is important that you and your children who are able to get vaccinated are fully immunized.
This not only protects your family, but also helps prevent the spread of these diseases to your friends and loved ones.
Immunizations Can Save Your Family Time And Money.
A child with a vaccine-preventable disease can be denied attendance at schools or child care facilities.
Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in prolonged disabilities and can take a financial toll because of lost time at work, medical bills or long-term disability care.
In contrast, getting vaccinated against these diseases is a good investment and usually covered by insurance.
The Vaccines for Children program is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children from low-income families.
To find out more about the VFC program, click here or ask your child’s health care professional.
Immunization Protects Future Generations.
Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago.
For example, smallpox vaccination eradicated that disease worldwide. Your children don’t have to get smallpox shots any more because the disease no longer exists.
By vaccinating children against rubella (German measles), the risk that pregnant women will pass this virus on to their fetus or newborn has been dramatically decreased, and birth defects associated with that virus no longer are seen in the United States.
If we continue vaccinating now, and vaccinating completely, parents in the future may be able to trust that some diseases of today will no longer be around to harm their children in the future.
For more information about the importance of infant immunization, click here.
More than 3,500 babies in the U.S. die suddenly and unexpectedly every year while sleeping, often due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or accidental deaths from suffocation or strangulation.
In an effort to reduce the risk of all sleep-related infant deaths, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) updated policy statement and technical report includes new evidence that supports skin-to-skin care for newborn infants; addresses the use of bedside and in-bed sleepers; and adds to recommendations on how to create a safe sleep environment.
Check out this great video from the American Association of Pediatrics to learn how to create a safe sleep environment and the top ways to get a baby to go to sleep.
Until their first birthday, babies should sleep on their backs for all sleep times—for naps and at night.
We know babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides.
The problem with the side position is that the baby can roll more easily onto the stomach.
Some parents worry that babies will choke when on their backs, but the baby’s airway anatomy and the gag reflex will keep that from happening.
Even babies with gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) should sleep on their backs.
Newborns should be placed skin-to-skin with their mother as soon after birth as possible, at least for the first hour.
After that, or when the mother needs to sleep or cannot do skin-to-skin, babies should be placed on their backs in the bassinet.
While preemies may need to be on their stomachs temporarily while in the NICU due to breathing problems, they should be placed on their backs after the problems resolve, so that they can get used to being on their backs and before going home.
Some babies will roll onto their stomachs. You should always place your baby to sleep on the back, but if your baby is comfortable rolling both ways (back to tummy, tummy to back), then you do not have to return your baby to the back.
Remove all blankets pillows and stuffed animals from your child’s crib.
However, be sure that there are no blankets, pillows, stuffed toys, or bumper pads around your baby, so that your baby does not roll into any of those items, which could cause blockage of air flow.
If your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, or sling, you should move them to a firm sleep surface on their back as soon as possible.
Use a firm sleep surface. A crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recommended along with a tight-fitting, firm mattress and fitted sheet designed for that particular product.
Nothing else should be in the crib except for the baby. A firm surface is a hard surface; it should not indent when the baby is lying on it.
Bedside sleepers that meet CPSC safety standards may be an option, but there are no published studies that have examined the safety of these products.
In addition, some crib mattresses and sleep surfaces are advertised to reduce the risk of SIDS. There is no evidence that this is true, but parents can use these products if they meet CPSC safety standards.
Click here to visit the CPSC website.
In the hospital take special care to have baby sleep safe. Put baby in the bassinet when you are tired or sleeping.
Keep baby’s sleep area in the same room where you sleep for the first 6 months or, ideally, for the first year. Place your baby’s crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard in your bedroom, close to your bed.
The AAP recommends room sharing because it can decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50% and is much safer than bed sharing. In addition, room sharing will make it easier for you to feed, comfort, and watch your baby.
Only bring your baby into your bed to feed or comfort. Place your baby back in his or her own sleep space when you are ready to go to sleep.
If there is any possibility that you might fall asleep, make sure there are no pillows, sheets, blankets, or any other items that could cover your baby’s face, head, and neck, or overheat your baby. As soon as you wake up, be sure to move the baby to their own bed.
Never place your baby to sleep on a couch, sofa, or armchair. This is an extremely dangerous place for your baby to sleep.
When you are tired-put baby in a safe place to sleep.
When you swaddle your infant, make sure that the baby is always on their back when swaddled.
The swaddle should not be too tight or make it hard for the baby to breathe or move his or her hips. When your baby looks like he or she is trying to roll over, you should stop swaddling.
Try giving a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. This helps reduce the risk of SIDS, even if it falls out after the baby is asleep.
If you are breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is going well before offering a pacifier. This usually takes 2-3 weeks.
If you are not breastfeeding your baby, you can start the pacifier whenever you like.
It’s OK if your baby doesn’t want a pacifier. You can try offering again later, but some babies simply don’t like them. If the pacifier falls out after your baby falls asleep, you don’t have to put it back in.