According to researchers from the US National Center for Health Statistics, about 3.6 million babies were born in the US in 2020. Following the joy of childbirth, it is your duty as a parent to keep your child healthy and safe. However, this is somewhat challenging given that infants are highly susceptible to diseases and can fall victim to numerous hazards around the home. Still, there are multiple tips you can rely on to ensure your child’s wellness. If you wish to learn more about protecting your baby’s health and safety, take a look at these points.
1) Breastfeed your baby
Breastfeeding vs. formula feeding is a consideration every new mum must make before deciding what’s best. However, health experts are big breastfeeding advocates, recommending that you breastfeed your child exclusively for six months and continue even after introducing them to solid food until at least age one. Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding your baby until two years old or older. Breastfeeding is a highly favored alternative to formula feeding mainly because of the many benefits of breast milk. For instance, breast milk has hormones and the correct amount of fat, sugar, vitamins, and protein to help your child grow and develop. Breast milk also has antibodies that protect your infant from many illnesses. As such, breastfed babies develop fewer health problems than their formula-feeding counterparts.
Additionally, breast milk has suitable fatty acids that help your child’s eyes and brain develop. Furthermore, it is easy to digest, so your infant may have less belly pain and gas than a baby-fed formula. In addition, breast milk evolves as your baby grows, so they get what they require at the right point in time. For instance, your breasts produce colostrum for the first few days following childbirth. Colostrum is a nutrient-rich fluid with nutrients and antibodies that your child needs in the first few days because it contains an immune booster that protects your baby from the inside out. This colostrum changes into transitional milk that lasts three to seven days after childbirth and eventually evolves into mature milk in two weeks. This mature milk has the same properties as colostrum but is more diluted to guarantee a higher volume of milk for your baby’s needs.
2) Follow safety tips for bath times
Bath time is undoubtedly a fun way for you to bond with your baby. However, this time can also turn into your worst nightmare if you don’t take safety precautions. For starters, never leave your child unsupervised since children can reportedly drown in just one inch of water. It only takes a split second of turning your back to attend to something else for the worst to occur. Therefore, supervise them regardless of how little water there is in the tub or how quickly you plan to return. To make this easier, keep everything you will need within reach, including toys, soaps, and towels, so you don’t go searching for something you may have forgotten. In addition, keep a close eye on your baby’s bath water temperature since their skin is more susceptible to burns. Your water should be about the same temperature as your baby’s skin to guarantee maximum comfort. Also, stick to soaps and shampoos that are not too harsh for your baby’s skin, particularly products designed specifically for infants. Using gentle products is one of the best ways to treat your baby’s dry scalp if they suffer from this condition, so keep this in mind.
3) Be careful with swaddling
As a new parent, the nurses at the hospital will typically teach you how to swaddle your infant. Wrapping a blanket around your baby’s body mimics the womb’s warmth and helps soothe your newborn. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that swaddling can calm babies and put them to sleep when executed well. However, numerous guidelines are worth following to ensure safety if you intend to swaddle your child at home. This reality is because swaddling comes with some safety risks that can lead to dangerous overheating, difficulties in breastfeeding, and limited skin-to-skin contact. For starters, it is essential to place your swaddled baby to sleep on their back to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). About 2,500 infants in the US die from SIDS annually, and some studies have proved an increased risk of accidental suffocation and SIDS when babies are swaddled and placed on their stomachs to sleep. In addition, monitoring your baby after putting them on their back is crucial to prevent them from accidentally rolling over. Furthermore, many health experts recommend ceasing swaddling as soon as your infant shows any signs of attempting to roll over. Several babies start trying to roll at about two months of age, so you can stop swaddling your infant when they reach this milestone.
4) Vaccinate your child
Federal health data released in 2018 reveals that the percentage of young children aged two and below in the country who haven’t received any vaccinations has quadrupled since 2001. Sadly, vaccines have become a controversial topic over the years due to safety concerns, but several studies have failed to find any evidence of harm to date. Consequently, never deviate from your baby’s vaccine schedules since they need to be immunized to be protected. Advances in science have made it possible for children to be protected against more dangerous illnesses that killed and injured other babies than ever before. For instance, Polio was once the most feared disease in America, causing paralysis and death countrywide. However, the US has been polio-free since 1979, thanks to a successful vaccination program. As such, vaccines are safe and effective, although they may cause minor discomfort, pain, tenderness, and redness at the injection site. Also, severe side effects after vaccination, like allergic reactions, are quite rare but still possible. Nevertheless, the benefits of vaccinating your child far outweigh the potential side effects.
5) Stay on top of car seat safety
Infants are undoubtedly at a greater risk of injury in car crashes due to their fragility. Therefore, it is crucial to stay on top of all the car safety tips for newborns to prevent them from injury and death. For instance, research reveals that children up to 2 years who ride in forward-facing child safety seats are more likely to be seriously injured than their peers in rear-facing child safety seats. Consequently, ensure that your infant rides rear-facing in a child safety seat in the back of your car. This way, you can ensure that their spine, neck, and head receive enough support if a frontal crash happens. Also, babies riding in the front seat can be fatally injured by passenger airbags, so keeping them in the back is best to increase their chances of survival. Additionally, ensure that the shoulder straps for your baby’s seat are at or below their shoulders. Furthermore, child safety seats have numerous pairs of harness slots for adjustments as the baby grows, so ensure that you use these harnesses correctly. For instance, the harness must not be so tight that it is impossible to pinch a fold in the harness material after your baby is buckled in. Also, the chest clip’s top should be positioned at the armpit level for maximum comfort. In addition, the straps should lie flat and straight without twisting or sagging. Experts recommend keeping your child in a rear-facing car seat until they attain the maximum weight or height for their convertible seat, which usually happens between ages three to five.
6) Practice handwashing and cleanliness
Handwashing is crucial for you and anyone else who comes into contact with your baby because it is a reliable way of keeping the hands germ-free. This handwashing should last for at least 15 seconds using soap and water and occur after coughing, sneezing, or touching pets. Therefore, wash your hands before touching your baby, and insist that visitors, friends, and family members do the same. Also, wash all bibs, high chairs, and eating areas with soap and warm water after each use. You can also clean and sanitize other surfaces your infant will come into contact with, like toys, strollers, cribs, and teething rings.
7) Prevent general accident risks
There are several general accident risks you should watch out for as a parent to keep your baby safe. For instance, you should always keep sharp objects like scissors, razors, and knives out of reach to prevent them from accidentally cutting themselves. In addition, babies can easily swallow coins, beads, and medications, so it is best to keep these items out of their reach. Furthermore, leaving your baby alone with your pet is a bad idea you should avoid to prevent accidents. Any dog breed can bite, nip, kill, or maul a child, so it is a good idea to supervise your child around pets. Furthermore, ensure that all furniture pieces around the home are attached to the wall, so no pieces fall over and hit your child. Also, never put your baby in a walker, as several kids visit the emergency room yearly due to falling down the stairs.