Newborn Safety in the Comfort of Home

Bringing your newborn home from the hospital is an exciting event, yet it is important to remember that being a bit nervous about how to care for this new bundle of joy is common too. As a parent, you will come to know your baby best. Trust your instincts, and try not to take too seriously the advice of well-meaning friends and relatives. Caring for your baby in a way that seems sensible to you will help you to strengthen your confidence as a parent and will enable you to meet your infant’s needs for love, comfort and security

It is normal for all babies to sneeze, yawn, burp, hiccup, spit-up and pass gas. Sneezing is the only way your baby can clear his nose of mucous. Hiccups may last 5-10 minutes or more and do not usually require intervention. Crying is your baby’s way of communicating. Newborns cry when they are hungry, wet, thirsty, too cold or too hot or if they just want to be held or hugged. Sometimes there is no discernible reason for their crying. You will gradually come to know what your baby means when he cries, and you will learn which measure will comfort him. Remember that responding appropriately to their cries cannot spoil babies.

You will want to do everything possible to ensure a safe environment for your newborn. There are many simple measures you can take to keep your baby safe and comfortable in your home.

VISITORS: Your baby has not had the opportunity to build up resistance to infection, so do your best to limit visitors during the first 2-3 months. Only your closest relatives and friends should be allowed to hug and kiss the baby. Looking at the baby from a few feet away is much less likely to spread germs. Obviously, people who have coughs and cols should postpone their visit to your home.

CRIB SAFETY: The slats on your crib should be no more than 2-3/8 inches apart to prevent your baby’s head from being caught between them. The mattress should be firm, flat and fit snugly on all sides, and the crib should be kept free of pillows and toys in which the baby could become entangled. Never leave your baby unattended with the crib side down. Similarly, babies can fall off beds and changing tables, so always be careful

TEMPERATURE: Try to keep the baby’s room temperature at approximately seventy degrees. If you customarily keep your house temperature lower in the winter, do not let the baby’s room temperature fall below sixty-eight degrees. It is alright to use air-conditioning in the summer, but keep your child away from a direct cold draft.

CLOTHING: In general, your baby should be dressed with as many layers of clothing as you need in the same setting. Indoors (70-72 degrees), a baby needs only an undershirt(onesie) and a one layer outfit and possibly a light blanket. In hot weather, even less is needed. However, he may need one more layer of clothing than you do when in a cold environment. No matter what the weather is like, avoid overdressing your infant which can make him/her cranky.

Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg is the chief pediatric officer for RealAge.com. She is a nationally renowned parenting expert, board-certified pediatrician, and has practiced pediatric and adolescent medicine for over 15 years maintaining a successful private pediatric practice in New York City. She is also an Assistant Clinical Professor in Pediatrics at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and mother of three young children. Dr. Trachtenberg has appeared on NBC's Today show and CNN, among others, and has recently published a new book, The Smart Parent's Guide to Getting Your Kids through Check Ups, Illnesses and Accidents (2009), as well as articles on health and parenting topics, including child development and childhood obesity.

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