Keeping your Baby Healthy

Few things concern new parents more than the health of their baby. Although babies are delicate and have much weaker immune systems than adults, there are a few simple things you can do as a parent to ensure your baby stays healthy.

Baby’s Immune System

Newborns enter the world with no immunity to any of the many viruses and bacteria we come into contact with every day. They must build immunity over time, and the number one thing that you can do to help baby’s immune system grow stronger is to breastfeed. Breast milk, especially the early colostrum, contains antibodies your baby can’t get anywhere else. These will strengthen her immune system and give her an edge in fighting off common childhood illnesses.

Although there has been much controversy surrounding vaccinations in the past several years, the truth is that getting your baby immunized is a vital step in keeping her protected from potentially fatal illnesses. The reason so many childhood illnesses are practically non-existent in the US today is the strong push for vaccinations. If you are interested in an alternate vaccination schedule or have concerns about vaccines, talk to your baby’s doctor.

Well-baby Check Ups

Seeing your baby’s pediatrician regularly is vital to keeping your baby healthy. Well-baby check ups are scheduled at gradually widening intervals throughout your baby’s first two years, and yearly thereafter. These visits allow your baby’s doctor to monitor his health, and catch any signs of a problem early, before it can become serious. Well-baby visits are also the time when immunizations are usually scheduled.

You should also use these check ups as an opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have regarding your baby’s health. Remember that you are the first line of defense for your baby; because you spend more time with him than your doctor does, you are more likely to notice a problem. Don’t hesitate to bring it up, even if you aren’t sure it’s worth mentioning. Anything that concerns you should be taken seriously by your baby’s doctor.

Protecting Baby’s Health

A simple precaution you can take to avoid exposing your baby to harmful germs is to make sure you wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer before you touch her. Make sure that anyone else who wishes to touch her does the same. Don’t be afraid to stand up to strangers in public who want to touch your baby! It is your job to protect her while her immune system is not yet up to the task.

Make sure to ask friends and family to avoid visiting when they are sick. A cold that might be a minor inconvenience to an adult can hospitalize a newborn, so take this seriously. Your doctor may recommend avoiding busy public places with your newborn for the first few months, especially if your baby is born during cold and flu season. This doesn’t mean you are house-bound! Just try to keep your outings to less crowded places, and again, be cautious of strangers who want to check out your precious little one. Remind them it’s ok to look, but please don’t touch.

In spite of your best efforts, it’s likely that your baby will come down with several colds in the first year of life. However, if you have done your best to bolster his immune system and keep him healthy, hopefully they will be short-lived and infrequent.

A healthy baby is a happy baby, and that makes for happy parents too!

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