Infant Safety

Accidents

Accidents are the number one killer of children. More children (ages 1-4) die from accidents than the next five causes of death combined (cancer included), and automobile accidents are by far the leading cause of death and injury to children under the age of four. As a parent, you need to be aware of these statistics and make sure that you take every safety measure possible to ensure the safety and well-being of your baby. See baby proof home, baby proof outside, and car seats for a explanation of how to take the needed safety precautions for your baby.

Car Seats

Infant-Safety

Before your baby is even born, you should purchase a government-approved infant car seat. Car seats are available for children of all ages, weights, and heights, so be sure to purchase the correct one for your baby. Some hospitals give these as baby presents, but most do not. Infant car seats should be properly installed, or otherwise they are more dangerous than good to your baby. As many as half of all child car seats in the United States are installed incorrectly. Most parents do not even know that their car seat is installed incorrectly. Here is a list of steps to take to make sure that you install your car seat correctly:

Make sure that the car seat is at a proper angle. Your baby’s head should not be drooping down in front or to the side. You may want to place a rolled towel under the front of the restraint, this will tip the car seat back into a more comfortable position for your baby. In order to keep your baby’s head from leaning to one side or the other, place two rolled towels along the sides of your baby’s head.
The harness should go across your baby’s shoulders evenly, and it should attach below shoulder level. Make sure the harness straps are not twisted, and also make sure the straps are secured with a harness retainer clip.
Use your car seat until your baby outgrows it. All babies are different sizes at different ages, so it is best to make a decision based on your child’s weight, not his/her’s age.
Car bed’s can be used for infants. Make sure the head is in the center of the vehicle, away from the door.
Bucket seats can make it almost impossible to install a car seat properly; if at all possible avoid placing your car seat in a vehicle with such seats.
Place the straps on your baby before you place any type of covering over him/her.

Once you have attatched the car seat, pull on it in many directions to make sure it is properly anchored. If you feel safer with your baby in the front passenger seat, make sure that the car seat is facing the rear of the car. If you are going to transport your baby in the passenger seat, air bags should be removed to protect your baby. When transporting your baby in an automobile, there are some important safety precautions you need to take.

Newborns should have their tiny heads properly supported while in the car seat.
Seat belts should be worn by all passengers in the car, at all times. Most states require this form of protection.
Only use infant car seats that are approved by the US Department of Transportation; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Carriers should never be substituted for car seats.
Never strap a baby and an adult into the same seat belt.
Never hold your baby while driving or riding in an automobile, regardless of how short your travel distance is.
All groceries and loose objects should be placed in the trunk or another secure place away from your baby.
If your baby is crying, it is better to pull over and stop the car before you tend to his/her needs.
Be extra careful not to allow the metal fasteners to touch your baby’s skin in extremely hot or cold weather.

Baby Proofing Your Home

It is estimated that 22 million children are involved in accident each year, see Mother Helper’s Accident page. Accidents are the Number 1 Killer of children (1-4 years old). Many of these accidents happen within the home, and the startingly fact is that as many as nine out of ten of these accidents could have been prevented by following simple household safety measures. Just remember, all babies can get into trouble faster than you can imagine. If there’s a dangerous spot in the house, a baby will find it.

As soon as your baby begins to crawl or even earlier, there are some household precautions you’ll want to take to ensure your baby’s safety. Babies have vived imaginations when it comes to what they think will taste yummy. Babies who have just began to move around, have no preference about what it is that they pick up and put into their mouths…anything goes! This is why it is very important for you to keep many things out of your baby’s reach.

To the left you’ll find a house plan with separte rooms, such as: the kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom, stairs and hallways. You can click on each one of these areas to find out what safety measures you can take to baby proof your home.

Kitchen Safety

Kitchen-Safety

Below is a list of helpful safety devices that you can install within your home to protect your baby and also your piece of mind. Many of these items can be purchased at either your local department store or toy store.

Stovetop Guard –

If you cannot purchase, try cooking on the back burners, farther out of baby’s reach.

Drawer safety latches –

Puchase at least one latch and move any sharp objects, tiny objects, or poisonous objects to the drawer with the safety latch.
Keep baking soda and a fire extinguisger in the kitchen area, in case of a cooking fire.
Keep baking soda and a fire extinguisger in the kitchen area, in case of a cooking fire.
Make sure any alcholic beverages are kept out of your baby’s reach.
All tablecloths should be secured to the table so baby cannot pull anything off onto him/herself.
Dispose of any plastic grocery bags and dry cleaning bags immediately, these can cause suffocation.
If you keep cleaners under your kitchen sink, you need to move these substances to an elevated place out of your baby’s reach.
Never use hot tap water for mixing any of your baby’s formula or food.
All glasswares should be placed in high cupboards out of reach.
Keep garbage bins locked, so that your baby does not have access to them.
Never hold or pass hot liquids over your baby.
Never let your baby pick up any sharp objects like scissors or sharp pencils.

Electrical Outlet plugs –

These are relatively inexpensive and should be purchases to protect your baby.
Remove any cigarettes, lighters, ash-trays, and matches from your baby’s reach.
Keep your purse out of reach of your baby. Many small objects like coins can easily find thier way into your baby’s mouth.

Living Room Safety

Below is a list of helpful safety devices that you can install within your home to protect your baby. Many of these items can be purchased at either your local department store or toy store.

Keep fans and space heaters out of your baby’s reach. Severe burns and cuts could be inflicted on your baby if they come into contact with these objects.
Keep windows locked to prevent your child from falling outside.
Remover or shorten any cord that your child can reach. Cords from blinds or drapes can cause strangulation.
Always pick up toys, so that no one slips and falls on them.
Place decals on any glass doors at your baby’s height, so that they do not walk into the glass
Make sure all furniture is secure so your baby cannot pull anything over on himself/herself.

Bedroom Safety

Bedroom-Safety

Below is a list of helpful safety devices that you can install within your home to protect your baby. Many of these items can be purchased at either your local department store or toy store.

Keep small jewelry, perfumes and colgones, shoe polishing materials, belts, scarves, and ties all out of reach from your baby.
Never lock a baby into a room.
Make sure closests can be opened from the inside, so that your toddler doesn’t get locked in.
Never allow your baby to sleep with a bib on.
Keep older children’s toys out of reach of your toddler.
Keep pillows out of the crib until your baby is over a year old.
Minute batteries are another hazard for your baby. Button batteries can be found in watches, small toys, computer games, and other small gadgets. The National Button Battery Ingestion Hot line is (202)-625-3333.

Bathroom Safety

Below is a list of helpful safety devices that you can install within your home to protect your baby. Many of these items can be purchased at either your local department store or toy store.

water spout, but this can easily slip off if you’re not careful.

Toilet latches –

You may be surprised to know that babies are capable of drowning in toilet bowls. If you cannot purchase this item remember to keep the bathroom door closed.
Never leave any electrical appliances plugged in near water.
Never leave your baby alone in the bathroom for any reason what-so-ever!! Babies can drown very easily and quickly without proper supervision.
When running bathtub water be sure to turn off the hot water first, so that if your baby accidently turns on the water, they are not burned by the water left in the faucet.
Keep all medicines, cosmetics, and razor blades well out of reach.
Electrical Outlet plugs – These are relatively inexpensive and should be purchases to protect your baby.

Stair & Hallway Safety

Below is a list of helpful safety devices that you can install within your home to protect your baby. Many of these items can be purchased at either your local department store or toy store.

Block access to all stairways from your baby.
Hallways and stairs should always be well lit.
Always hold onto the safety railing when carrying your baby down the steps.
Install safety gates to close off high risk areas, such as: bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and stairs. (Safety gates are NOT always very reliable. Some gates can be dislodged by babies, and some have small pieces that babies can swallow.
Place smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home (one per floor).

High-Chair Safety

As you’ve probably already read, accidents are a one of the main killers of our children these days. Everything your baby might come into contact with need to be safe and secure, especially his/her high-chair. When you begin shopping for a high-chair, make sure safety is at the top of your priority list. The market has many chairs available, so if you take your time and shop around, you’ll be able to find an affordable, pretty, and safe high-chair for your baby.

Here are some tips for you to remember when purchasing a safe high-chair:

make sure the chair meets the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) standards for safety
make sure the chair is sturdy, high-chairs should have a wide base
make sure the chair cannot be pulled over by your baby
make sure the sliding tray will not pinch your baby’s fingers
make sure the chair can be cleaned easily
make sure the crotch strap is durable and adjustable
make sure the high-chair tray has lips on it to help keep food on the tray and not the floor
make sure the footrest is adjustable
make sure the back of the seat is high enough to support your baby’s head

Never leave your baby unattended in a high-chair for any reason.

Water Safety
Water hazards for your baby:

Children can drown in only a few inches of water, even if they have had swimming lessons. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend swimming classes for children under the age of three. If you do enroll your child in a swimming class under the age of three, makes sure the class follows the guidelines set by the national YMCA. A child under the age of three, should not be submerged.

Since babies and toddlers have heads that are much bigger in proportion to their bodies, it is very important to not allow them to encounter even small bodies of water, for example: ponds, puddles, ditches, fountains, streams, creeks, rain barrels, storm drains, watering cans, and even buckets! Since the head is much larger in comparison to the rest of the body, a baby or toddler can tip over head-first into a bucket or any contianer, not be able to get out, and therefore drown in a small amount of water.

Constant supervision of little ones is necessary to make sure they never fall into anything containing water.
Inflatable pools and kiddie pools should be emptied and put anyway after each swim.
Never allow your baby to be left alone in any amount of water.
CPR training can be very helpful, in the case of an emergency.
If you have a swimming pool at home, it needs to be kept off limits to your baby at all times. Gates with child-proof locks are a good idea for protecting your child.
Pool covers should be completely removed and stored away from the pool before anyone swims in the pool. Even if your pool is covered, you should still keep the gate locked. If kids try to walk or crawl on the cover, they can fall through and get trapped underneath.
Safety rings, ropes, and poles should be kept near the pool at all times.
Children should always wear life-preservers when swimming in deep water or participating in any water activities. Make sure that the life-preserver has a flotation collar to keep the head upright and face out of the water
Spas, hot-tubs and jacuzzies are safety hazards for your child as far as drowning and/or overheating.
Swimming pools, wells, natural springs, cisterns, ponds, dams, lakes, streams, storm drains, etc….should all be closed off in some way from your baby.
Buckets, tubs, old tires, or any object that can hold even just a small amount of water should be made inaccessible to your baby. Babies can drown in very small amounts of water. They fall in or get stuck and it doesn’t take much to fill their little lungs.
Remember, no safety measure can take the place of a watchful parent.

Sunshine and Your Baby

Sunshine-and-Your-Baby

When the weather breaks and the sun is shining, you’ll probably want to start taking your baby outside. Even though your baby might not be able to crawl or walk yet, it is important to make sure that he/she does leave your sight for even just a moment. But before you do, there are some important safety steps you should take.
Before taking your baby outside, you need to decide on some kind of protection from harmful sun rays. Sun burns can leave your baby with redness, soreness, blisters, fever, chills, headaches, and even ill. The sun can also do harm to your baby without burning him/her; exposure builds up over the years and can cause other health problems later in life.

What to do if your baby does get sun-burned:

For mild redness:

apply cool wash cloths or towels to the area
give your baby a cool bath
acetaminophen may also be given

For blisters, fever, or chills:

contact your physician right away

Pet Safety

Most babies like pets, and most pets like babies. Unfortunately, this is not true for all animals and all babies. If you do have a pet of some kind in or outside of your home, you should use precaution when allowing contact between your baby and your pet. Pets can sometimes bite, scratch, and/or even suffocate babies without meaning to harm them, so be sure to supervise the playtime between your pet and baby.
Animals also have a tendency to become jealous of new babies. Be sure to give your pet just as much attention as you did before your baby arrived. Some vetenarians suggest that you record baby’s crying before your new baby arrives, to get your pet ready for the new sounds. Cats should be spayed or neutered prior to your baby’s arrival to reduce the risk of aggressive behavior.
Pets should have a check up before your baby arrives. Pets can carry certain diseases that can harm your baby, such as:rabies, ringworm, toxoplasmosis, and strep. Along with diseases, pets can also carry such things as fleas, mites, ticks, and lice. Check your pet for any of these things prior to allowing your baby to come into contact with the animal.
Before touching your baby after playing with your pet, always wash your hands. If your baby plays with your pet, wash his/her hands immediately following the exposure.
Litter boxes should be hidden from your baby, or at least kept well out of his/her reach.
Your pet’s food and water bowls should also be kept out of reach of your little one.

Insect Bites & Stings

It is not possible for you to tell whether or not your baby is allergic to insect venom usually until he/she has been stung or bitten. Reactions to insect venom can range from slightly mild to very severe. Keep your baby’s fingernails short to reduce their ability to scratch; scratching stings or bites can cause infection.

Calamine Lotion Tips:

Never apply calamine lotion around eyes or on genitals.

No Old-fashioned Home Remedies:

Never use any old-fashioned home remedies, apply any creams or lotions, or give any medications without first consulting your physician.

Bee Stinger Tips:

Stingers should be removed if still entact. Never grasp a stinger and pull it directly out because by doing this you could squeeze more toxin into your baby. To remove the stinger, gently scrape it off horizontally. Honeybee stingers should not be removed, since they have a jagged edge. These stingers will dissolve on their own within a few days.

Call for help, immediately if you notice any of the following:

difficulty breathing, signifying a closure of your baby’s airway due to swelling
listlessness, drogginess, or unconsciousness
hives or bumps covering your baby’s entire body
extreme swelling or inflamation around the eyes, lips, or genitals that causes your baby to have difficulty seeing, eating, or urinating

Plant, Berry & Mushroom Safety

Plants, berries, and mushrooms:

Among preschoolers, plants are the leading cause of poisoning. Call your local poison control center and request a list of posonous plants common to your area.

Plants, berries, and mushrooms are another safety hazard for your baby. Be aware of the ones that your baby might come into contact with. Many of these natural growths are colorful and appear tasty to babies, but in all reality they can be very harmful if ingested. To babies berries, mushrooms, and fungi sort of resemble candy, so your baby will probably not be shy about trying such items.
Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac:

If your baby is allergic to one of these weeds, a rash will appear. Sometimes blisters form. Most allergic reactions occur in the form of severe itching.

Poison Ivy –

3 leafed green weed with a red stem at the center (everywhere in the US, except the Southwest)

Poison Sumac –

is a shrub with 7 to 13 leaves arranged in pairs (usually in swampy areas of Mississippi River region)

Poison Oak –

a shrub, primarily found on the West Coast of the US

Treatment:

wash area contacted by the weed for 10 minutes
apply calamine lotion as directed on the container
hydrocortisones may also be applied
wash all clothes in water and detergent

Contact your physician, if your baby has any of the following signs:

any sign of infection: yellowish blisters, redness, oozing
new rashes continueing to appear
severe rash on face or genitals
fever

Baby Activities For You & Your Baby

Activities for you and your baby:

3 months of age: your baby will love a rubber or plastic ring (at this point your baby is learning to grasp and he/she will enjoy holding the ring)

4 months of age: baby rattles, rings, rag dolls, baby blankets, mobils,

allow your baby to be draped over a roll pillow and gently move it forward and backwards, great for balance

peekaboo, mirrors

tickle your little one

5 months of age:

airplane game: lay your baby on his/her stomach and watch’em go

baby’s like to play with their own feet around this age

blocks: wooden and with colors like red blue and yellow

squeeze toys and squeak toys

toys that flash or make noise

toys of different shapes, sizes and textures (make sure there is no possible way for your baby to choke)

balls are great baby toys

6 and up

learning to sit on their own

waving goodbye

peekaboo

mobils

toys with flashing lights and noises

toys that can be squeezed to make noises

balls

mirrors

Tough On Mom

Getting Enough Sleep for You and Your Baby

Early in their lives, babies wake up and need to eat. Of course that means you’re up every night. Anyone who has ever been deprived of significant amounts of sleep can attest to the fact…without sleep even everyday rituals seem almost impossible. Without sleep, your temper may become shorter, your patience may get lost, your mind may feel like it’s a contestant in the Indy 500, and you may even notice your concentration drifting, like answering the phone when you should be answering the door.

Sleep Tips for Mom:

have a significant other watch your baby for an hour or two during the day, and allow yourself to take a nap
to be sure you get an uninterrupted nap, take your phone off the hook and maybe play some soft, soothing music
do not fret over not getting enough sleep, talk with your friends who are mothers, ask them how they get their needed sleep
sooner than later you to will be getting enough sleep, remember that

Getting your baby to sleep:

Believe it or not, about 70% of babies stop waking up in the middle of the night around three months of age. Most parents usually start trying to get their baby’s to sleep through the night between 3 to 6 months of age. Around six months of age, your baby will probably begin sleeping throughout the night. Keep in mind, sleeping through the night means about 5 to 6 hours at night. For now 8 to 10 hours of sleep you might have been used to, forget it…unless you and your significant other can take turns getting up.

Throughout about the first year of your baby’s life, sleeping patterns will be the topic of many of your discussions. Getting enough sleep is important for both you and your baby. As it has been said before in this site, all babies are different. Each one requires different amounts of sleep, and each one likes to sleep at different times throughout the day. There is no way to predict your baby’s sleeping patterns. Just because one of your baby’s sleeps through the night like an angel, does not mean that another baby of yours will not be up the entire night.

Babies often do not fall right to sleep…you’re probably not surprised by this statement. Cuddling and rocking your baby often helps him/her to fall asleep. By the time your baby is four months old, you should begin placing him/her into the crib to fall asleep without your intervention. Remember:

Babies have 4-5 hour sleep cycles. All babies will naturally wake up 2 to 3x each night.
Whatever you do to put the baby asleep at the start of the night, be prepared to do that each time the baby is going to wake up in the middle of the night.

Placing a baby in bed when they are sleepy but still awake gives them the chance to learn how to “self-calm” and fall asleep on their own. Some parents go through very involved bed-time rituals that might include: rocking, walking, singing, and certain types of music. With all that effort the baby falls asleep peacefully. But then in the middle of the night when the baby wakes up again (each night every baby always does) some babies will wonder “Hey, where’s my music, where’s my rocking, where’s my singing, where’s my parent?” Then you hear them crying when they can’t fall asleep on their own.

Sleep Tips for Your Baby’s Bed:

crib mattresses should always be firm; springs last longer than foam (Soft mattress can cause suffocation)
nonallergenic mattresses are better for your baby
you should cover your baby’s mattress with a waterproof material, and then place a fitted sheet over top of the waterproof cover
bumpers should be used to line the sides of the bed
pillows should not be used because they can cause suffocation
warm babies are happy babies; try to keep your baby’s sleeping area around 70°F
never use an electric blanket on your baby
place your baby’s bed in a place where it is not in direct contact with either a window or heater

For important information on the positioning of your baby during sleep and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, proceed to the SIDS page of this site.

Post-Partum Blues and Depression

Baby Blues

After delivering a baby, some women might experience a few days when they feel “blue.” Some mothers describe this time as feeling slightly “sad”, “being down”, or crying easily. To mothers and families it can seem like a strange feeling to have, especially after successfully delivering a baby. Some mothers think “I should be happy, what’s wrong with me?” Generally, this blue period only last for about 3-5 days. It is a natural and not unusual thing to happen. Scientists are not sure what causes this drop in mood. Factors that have been considered include:

Emotional factors

A “let-down” after getting through child birth
No longer carrying the baby inside of you.
Worrying about caring for a new baby.

Physical factors

Drastic changes in the levels of hormones and other biologic substances as a woman’s body switches from pregnancy back to its usual make-up and state.
Sleep deprivation and exhaustion from taking care of a new baby.

Post-Partum Depression

Sometimes, the baby blues can last for longer than the usual few days. Instead of feeling “just a little down,” mothers can feel emotionally miserable, tearful daily, have problems sleeping (not just because the baby wants to feed or is crying), lose interest in doing anything, feeling listless, lose their appetite, and even feel hopeless. If this situation lasts for more than a week or two, a mother might be experiencing a post-partum depression. This condition seems to be more common than people realize. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates 1 out of 10 women (10%) may experience a post-partum depression.

It is extremely important that mothers are aware of this condition because

There is treatment and help for this condition.
Unaddressed, depression can take away the joy of motherhood
Depression can also negatively effect the growing interactions between the mother and her new baby.
Mothers and the family are the best detectors

Depression can fall between the cracks. The doctors may not be available or aware of mother’s suffering from depression. Usually, an obstetrician will see a new mother only once post-partum. The family physician or pediatrician may only see a new mother and child once during the first few weeks and then every 2 months for well-child checks.

What Things Make Babies Cry

Why is my baby crying?

Unlike adults, babies cry in order to communicate. Hearing your baby cry is a very upsetting thing for new mothers. When adults cry, we cry because we are in pain, very sad, or very upset. We don’t usually cry when we’re hungry, or tired, or cold, but babies do. The only way for baby’s to tell us what they are feeling is to cry…so they do.

One thing that makes every parent’s heart race is hearing their baby cry. A baby’s cry is an extremely powerful tool of communication. It can send parents and grandparents scurrying around to find something to satisfy the baby. As the baby grows older, parents begin to recognize the meaning behind each cry, such as: “I’m Hungry!” “I’m Mad!” “I’m Sleepy!” or “I’ve Got a Dirty Diaper!”

As your baby makes you play the guessing game of, “What Do I Want?” the trick for the parent to remember is to be flexible. Don’t get locked into just one response. The top two parenting responses seem always to be, “Feed Him,” or “Change Him,” but there are other possibilities to keep in mind.

Do healthy babies cry?

Healthy babies can cry for a number of reasons. Remember, your baby’s only means of communication is to cry, so they’re usually crying to tell you they need a basic necessity, such as: a feeding, a nap, need to be held and cuddled, need to suckle, or just touched.

Some common things to check when the baby’s cry has you dancing on a string:

Is My Baby Hungry?
Is it Sleepy Time?
Is There A Need To Suck
Is it Infant Colic Syndrome

The need to be shown attention

Babies have senses too, and they’er eager to use them. Some babies cry when they do not receive attention from the adults around them. Their need to see, hear, feel, smell, and taste things is much like that of an adult. No one is saying you need to take your baby to the Opera or a professional football game, just allow them to observe the activities that you engage in, like cooking, watching television, doing laundry, or even cleaning. Often times just by placing your baby in an infant seat or swing so that he/she can check out what everyone is doing is satisfaction enough. Talk to your baby, sing to your baby, allow your baby to watch whatever it is that you are doing. Babies who receive attention from their parents are usually more perceptive and observant to their surroundings.

Dirty Diaper

If you’re using cloth diapers, it’s pretty easy to tell if this is causing the crying. Disposable diapers keep children pretty dry from urine, but not bowel movements. Even if you just changed the infant, there’s no telling when he or she may go again. A quick peek will let you know if this is the reason your baby is crying.

Teething

Around six months of age, your baby’s teeth might begin to break through. When this occurs, your baby usually feels a significant amount of pain, and therefore, cries. Just because your baby begins to gum certain objects or drool excessively does not mean that he/she is cutting a tooth. Observe your baby’s gums, and if you have further concerns contact your physician.

Burping

Babies usually do not cry because they need burped. Many people believe that frequently stopping a baby during his/her feeding to burp him/her will stop them from spitting up. This is usually not the case. Babies are all different when it comes to how much air each one swallows while feeding, some a lot and others none at all. Babies usually spit up because of their small esophaguses whose muscles are not fully matured, not because they need burped. So, if your baby cries after spitting up, this is not because you failed in your burping responsibilities, it’s probably because of the burning sensation your baby is experiencing in their throat and mouth.

Too cold vs. Too hot

Today, there are lots of cute baby clothes to try out on your baby. There’s the onesie, the cute shirt, Grandma’s sweater, and oh the neat polar fleece thingie. Just don’t do it all at once. A general guide for dressing your baby is to put on as many layers as you have got on yourself. Try not to overdress or underdress your baby, both can lead to unhappy tears.

Wanting to be Held

Sometimes parents have a fear of spoiling their baby by holding them too much. During the first few months, the baby is beginning the important process of developing attachments and social interactions. Holding the baby doesn’t spoil the infant, it develops a baby’s social abilities and feelings of security. Later on in the first year there will be plenty of time to start setting limits and encourage self-calming. But for now, go ahead and pick up your baby. One day you are going to miss the time your child could be comforted by just a simple hug.

Illness

Crying or irritability is one way to tell when a baby might be sick. If after changing your baby’s clothes, he or she still feels warm, check the baby’s temperature. If you need information on what to do when your baby is sick or has a fever see the following pages: signs of illness, fever, or common colds.

Get Ready, Get Set, Go!

Bath Time

Never, ever leave your baby unattended for any reason during a bath! Always take the phone off the hook and never answer the door while bathing your baby!

For bathroom safety tips, see Bathroom Safety.

For most babies…bath time is fun time!! Once your baby gets used to the water, he/she will more than likely enjoy splashing and kicking water everywhere…so look out!! When it comes to bathing your baby, remember that babies lack the ability to frolick in the dirt, so they are not too often very dirty. There is no need to bathe your baby frequently. Three to four baths a week are plenty, even less during the winter months. It is essential for you to remember since you are not bathing your baby everyday, you need to take special care each time your baby needs a diaper changing and thoroughly clean the diaper area. You should give your baby sponge baths until their umbilical cord has fallen off, and in the case of a boy until his circumcision site has healed. Once both sights have healed, you can give your baby a rub-a-dub-dub bath with rubber ducky and all.

Sponge Baths

Tub Baths

What products should I use on my baby during a bath?

You may use mild soaps and baby shampoo on your baby. It is usually only necessary to shampoo your baby’s scalp once a week. Each baby is different when it comes to how sensitive their skin is, so be sure to pay close attention when using a new soap or baby shampoo, if redness, dry skin, or a rash appears, discontinue use immediately. Dryness to the baby’s skin in his/her first few weeks is normal. Do not use oils, creams, or lotions — they tend to cause rashes. Most babies have a slight facial or body rash for the first few weeks of their life, but this usually disappears by 3-4 weeks of age.

Remember these skin care tips:

3-4 sponge baths a week with water and, if necessary, a mild soap
use baby shampoos only
always clean in folds and creases of your baby’s skin
do not use oils, creams, or lotions

What do I do if my baby hates to get a bath?

One technique you may want to try is to allow your baby to get a bath with you. The water should not be as warm as you normally like it, and take precaution to cover anything that might harm your baby. Sit with your baby in the water and enjoy the time together. Many babies want to breast feed at this time, this is only a normal reaction for them, since they are so close to their mother’s breast. Often times, breast feeding is a way to relax your baby, and may help them into enjoying their bath time. As your baby gets older, it is often a good idea to present them with bath toys (the traditional rubber ducky usually goes over well with babies).

Sponge Baths

A sponge bath is a bath in which you do not place your baby into actual water, instead you use either your hands, a wash cloth, or a sponge to spot clean your baby. This type of bath should be preformed on either the kitchen or bathroom counter near a sink. Plain water is usually suffiecient to properly clean your baby. If you must use a soap, use a rather mild, non-irritating soap (such as Dove or Neutrogena) because most babies have sensitive skin. Be sure to clean extra carefully around the umbilical cord and circumcised area. The genitals are another area that needs special attention. Moistened cotton balls work well for these areas. Be sure to clean in all folds and creases of your baby’s skin, such as: behind the ears, creases of the goin, folds in the neck, armpits, and diaper area. Babies with certain skin problems, such as: eczema ro dermatitis, should not be bathed very often. In most cases, these babies should receive sponge baths only.

Your newborn may or may not like to be fully undressed during a sponge bath. If your baby does not, simply uncover only the area that you want to bathe, sponge it, dry it, and cover it back up. Then, you can do the same process for another area. When wiping your baby’s eyes remember to wipe near the nose and out to the ear, this way there will not be any build up in the inside corner of your baby’s eyes. When using your hands to directly wash your baby, be sure to only use your fingertips, not your fingernails. Your baby has soft skin, and he/she will probably not be too appreciative of any scratching during bath time. During bath time, you can check your baby’s entire body. Be sure to see if he/she has any long finger or toe nails that might need cut, and also check for any rashes or scrapes.

To properly clean your baby’s navel during bath time, see Cord Care.

After each bath, whether sponge or immersion, be sure to place your baby in a clean diaper and clean clothing.

Tub Baths

Rub a Dub Dub, Your baby’s in the Tub: This type of bath can begin once your baby’s umbilical cord and circumcision have healed. Kitchen sinks usually work great for this task. There are many types of safety devices you can purchase to protect your baby during bath time. Plastic, rubber, or inflatable tubs can be purchased to place inside your kitchen sink. Remember to move the faucet away from the sink to protect your baby’s head. Take your time and be patient while bathing your baby. Be ready to get wet yourself , especially when your baby figures out how to splash. More times than not, your baby will not be too dirty, so take this time to have quality time with your baby. You can sing to your baby and/or give them an infant massage.

Bathtubs should not be used to wash your baby, until he/she is able to sit up alone. Before your baby can sit up there are two ways to give him/her a tub bath. One, you can purchase a rubber tub to fit into your kitchen sink. Or two, you can properly pad your kitchen sink with towels. When adding water, only add approximately two inches. Be sure to check the water temperature BEFORE you place your little one into the water. If at all possible, you should move the faucet out of the way once you have added the water. This way you or your baby will not be able to bump it with a head. Also, remember to always turn the hot water off first, this way if you or your baby accidentally bump the water on, your baby will not get burned. Whenever you move your baby into the big people’s tub, be sure to only add a couple inches of water and to check the temperature before placing your baby into the water.

After each bath, whether sponge or immersion, be sure to place your baby in a clean diaper and clean clothing.

Get Ready, Get Set, Go!

After one week of age, your baby may be ready to go outdoors. This is the day when you get to show off your little “bundle-of-joy” for the first time. You’re probably going to have many people come up to you to see what a beautiful baby you have. So you’re going to want your baby to look his/her best! Here are a few helpful tips to make your trip outside of your home a fun, safe, and enjoyable one.

Clothing

Who doesn’t love minature outfits for babies??? It is easy to become overwhelmed with all the different styles of clothing available for babies today. Lots of factors need to go into the making of your baby’s wardrobe, for example: your budget, the time of year, hand-me-downs available, and how to clean and care for the clothes.

Use your baby’s weight as a guide when purchasing clothes, age is not a good predictor since each baby is different even at the same age.
Easy access to the diaper area is always a plus.
If you must purchase something that goes over your baby’s head, be sure that the hole is large enough to slip over the head without causing any pain or injury.
Metal snaps and zippers hold up the best after repeated washings.
Wash new clothing before your baby wears it.
Purchase clothing just a little larger than your baby’s actual size, this will allow your baby to wear the outfit longer, even while he/she is growing rather quickly. And also because, some materials shrink quite a bit after the first washing.
Definite clothing necessitites:

t-shirts, undershirts, or body shirts
onesies (stretch suits)
nightgowns and/or pajamas
sweaters
hats
booties
snowsuit or travel suit
blankets

Diaper Bag Dilemmas

Diaper bags can be purchased just about anywhere. Make sure that the one you decide to purchase is waterproof.

a cover to place on the changing surface
clean diapers
plastic bags for dirty diapers
washcloths, wet towel, or squirty bottle
bottles and nipples
pacifiers
age-appropriate toy
hats depending on the weather (loose for hot days and snug for cool days)
blanket
finger foods (as long as your baby has started on solid foods and is ready for snacks)

Safe finger foods for your baby to munch on: Only offer these foods while you are constantly supervising your baby, Your baby must be in an upright position (preferably sitting up) to eat these foods.

O-shaped cereals
cooked carrots
cooked peas
cooked apple chunks
ripe pear chunks
cooked green beans
rice cakes

Nail Care

When it comes to your baby’s nails, there is one important thing to remember…keep them short. Newborns sometimes have long finger and toe nails that need to be cut right away; hospital personel usually take care of this task. It’s important to keep your baby’s nails short, so that he/she does not accidently scrath himself/herself or anyone else for that matter.

Once your baby gets home, it’s your turn to trim your baby’s nails. Don’t be nervous, this procedure is a relatively easy one, just take some of the precautionary measures listed below and you’ll do fine. If you’re truly nervous about doing this task, try using an emory board to file your baby’s nails down to size.

Tips for trimming your baby’s nails:

trim your baby’s nails when he/she is sleeping
use baby nail clippers or safety scissors
cut the nails straight across; never shape them
partners can be a great help (allow them to hold your baby’s hands, while you trim)
be sure to pull the skin below the nail back, so that you do not accidently cut your baby

If you accidently draw a drop of blood, simply apply a little pressure to the area and cover it with a small amount of antibiotic ointment.