Many first-time parents report feeling woefully unprepared and overwhelmed with the idea of caring for their newborn baby or growing infant. However, there are lots of resources (like this one) available free of cost to help you feel more comfortable and answer any questions you may have about safety, feeding, bathing, soothing, bonding, and generally caring for your baby.
Read on for our list of helpful tips for new parents when caring for their baby.
The first few months of your baby’s life will whizz past in what feels like the blink of an eye. There are a few baby safety tips to remember while your infant is not mobile and, therefore, stays where you put them. Although accidents can still happen, with the right precautions, they can usually be prevented.
When you bring your new baby home, be sure to remember these top baby safety tips:
- Car Seats
Proper installation of car seats can help avoid any unnecessary injuries in the event of an accident. Babies and toddlers should be in rear-facing car seats until they are the correct height and weight and can transition to forward-facing.
- Cribs and Beds
Avoid loose bedding, blankets, and toys in your baby’s crib while they sleep. These are suffocation hazards. Dress your baby warmly (but not too warmly) at night before bedtime. Instead of a loose duvet, use an approved sleep sack. Also, opt for a firm mattress instead of a softer one.
- Food and Milk
Only feed your baby solids once cleared by your pediatrician. Solid foods are a choking hazard for tiny babies who are not ready to eat them. Check food and milk temperature by placing a drop on your wrist; scalding temperatures can cause burns and severe pain for your little one. Always check before feeding your baby.
- Bathing Time
Once your baby is done with sponge baths and is ready for tub baths, it’s essential to make sure the water is not too hot for their infant skin. Hot bathwater accounts for many childhood injuries. Set your water heater to 120° F and check the bath water before putting your baby in. Hold them carefully and take special care to avoid getting water in their ears.
- General Household Safety
Make sure that you check your home for any hazards before bringing your bundle of joy home. If you have gas, check for leaks and speak to a qualified technician for an assessment. Install or maintain your carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors.
Older Baby Safety
Once your baby starts moving around the house independently, the game changes. Mobility opens up the possibility of injury without the level of control you had when the baby was immobile. It is important to remember that little kids will bump their heads and scrape their knees from time to time; it’s part of growing up. Once your baby starts rolling, scooting, and crawling, get down on the ground and scout the house for possible areas where they could get hurt.
- Sharp Corners
Furniture with sharp edges should be moved or have safety foam attached to the corners.
- Low Shelves
Objects on low shelves will be pulled off and inspected by curious minds; it might be best to move these.
- Detergents and Cleaning Equipment
Locking your cabinets or moving anything dangerous out of reach is vital.
- Blind Strings and Cords
These are strangulation and fall hazards. Make sure you put away any cords and tuck strings.
Your baby will naturally become attached to you as their parent and primary caretaker, but there are some additional techniques you can implement to deepen your connection with them. A strong physical helps strengthen your emotional connection with your baby and can help their development in other areas.
- Skin-to-Skin Contact
Find a comfortable place for you to sit with your baby, like their nursery or another dimly lit room. Wearing a shirt that opens in the front and with them in just a diaper, lay your baby on your bare chest. You can softly sing, hum, or read to them during this time.
- Cradling and Rocking
Cradling, rocking, and gently rubbing your baby in different patterns can also help build your and your baby’s bond.
Babies can become irritated or fussy for many different reasons. If you find they’re not hungry or sleepy but are still aggravated, there are some things you can do to try and soothe your baby.
Going from the womb to the outside world is a jarring experience. Swaddling helps mimic the feel of being in the womb by using a blanket or swaddling device to keep the baby’s arms close to the body, with the legs slightly bent and turned out. Be careful not to swaddle your baby too tight as this may increase their risk for hip dysplasia. This technique helps the baby feel comfortable, secure, and warm. Don’t swaddle your baby once they’re old enough to roll over, as this can put them at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Your voice is one of the most soothing sounds to your baby! After nine months of hearing Mom and Dad talk, they’ve come to associate your voice with comfort and security. They enjoy hearing you talk, babble, sing, and coo to them. Try singing and reading different materials to your baby as you rock or walk with them.
Gentle infant massages can be especially helpful to preemies and babies with medical complications. They’ve also been shown to help babies grow and develop. Ask your pediatrician for resource recommendations on how to safely massage your baby when they’re fussy or irritated.
Regional Medical Center Prioritizes Baby Safety
New parents often have a million questions and things on their minds. RMC is here to help, from helping you learn how to babyproof your home to ensuring that your car seat is correctly installed in your vehicle. And if your little one does happen to have a minor or major medical emergency, we’ll care for them like our own. Remember, when in doubt, reach out—RMC cares.