Childr Health Information

Infant Safety and Comfort

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Topic: Infant Health Care

This handout was written to answer some of the questions most often asked about keeping their babies safe and how to comfort a crying baby.  Feel free to ask your baby’s doctor or nurse practitioner to go over any information you do not understand.

Keeping your Baby Safe

What are the ABC’s of safe sleep?
Your baby should sleep Alone, on his or her Back, in a Crib (or cradle or bassinet).  Doctors recommend that babies sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).  In the first 3 months after baby is born, your baby’s bed should be in your bedroom. 

Do not cover your baby’s head with a blanket. Do not overdress your baby or use too many blankets. 

In the first few weeks, do not leave your baby sleeping upright (sitting up) in the car seat outside of the car.  Sitting up is hard on baby’s neck muscles.  After awhile, baby’s head may droop, making it hard to breathe.  If you cannot lay your baby down to sleep, put a pillow under the foot of the car seat to tip baby back.

Where should my baby sleep?
Your baby should sleep in a safety-approved crib with a firm, flat mattress and well fitting sheet.  A cradle or bassinet may be used, but should be certified by the JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association).

Do not use in the crib:
• beanbag cushions
• sheepskin pads • foam pads
• pillows of any kind • comforters
• toys

Should my baby always lie on his or her back?
Your baby should always sleep on his or her back.  During play time, when your baby is awake and someone is watching your baby, place baby on his or her tummy.  Tummy time will help baby develop arm and neck muscles.

How should I dress my baby for sleep?
Set the room temperature comfortable for a lightly dressed adult.  The room should not be too hot.  Dress the baby lightly for sleep.  A sleep outfit (gown or sleeper) is better than using blankets.  Babies can get tangled in blankets.  If you use a blanket, place your baby with his or her feet at the foot of the crib.  Tuck the ends of the blanket under the mattress.  Do not bring the blanket up higher than your baby’s chest. 

Try not to let your baby get too hot.  Your baby could be too hot if you see sweating, damp hair, flushed (red) checks, heat rash or rapid breathing. 

Will my baby get a flat spot on his or her head?
Babies may get a flat spot on the back of the head from lying in the same position day after day.  Change baby’s sleeping position so your baby does not get a flat spot.  Change the direction that you lay your baby in the crib (rotating your baby’s position), by placing his or her head at the end where the feet were the night before.   Babies tend to turn toward activity or noise.  Rotating your baby’s position in bed encourages him or her to turn his or her head from side to side.  Letting baby sleep in a car seat or swing can also lead to a flat spot on the head.
How should I dress my baby?
Dress your baby for the weather.  Use good judgment and common sense.  It is wise to cover your baby’s head to help keep the baby warm and protect him or her from overexposure to the sun and wind.  Keep your baby out of drafts.  House temperature is best around 68? - 70?F in the winter.  Do not overheat (too much clothing, too heavy bedding, too warm a room), even if your baby has a cold or is sick.

Make sure all buttons and snaps on your baby’s clothes are secure (on tight).  Your baby may pull off loose buttons or snaps and stick them in his or her mouth and choke on them.  Also, keep diaper pins out of baby’s reach.

Will my cigarette smoking hurt my baby?
Yes, Yes, Yes.  Your baby may be burned or even blinded by a lit cigarette or cigarette ash if you or anyone else smokes while holding your baby.  Breathing secondhand smoke may cause your baby to have more colds and other health problems.  There appears to be a higher risk of SIDS in babies who are around cigarette smoke.  Cigarette smoking during breast-feeding may decrease (lower) your milk supply. 

Even if you are a smoker, doctors recommend breast-feeding.  Breast-feeding lowers the risk for colds and SIDS.  It is safer to smoke and breastfeed than to smoke and bottle feed your baby. It is best if you wait to have a cigarette until after you have fed the baby or pumped your milk. Some babies may have  vomiting, diarrhea and cramps from the nicotine in the milk.

Do not take your baby into smoke-filled rooms or allow people to smoke near your baby, especially if your baby has had breathing problems.

What toys are safe for a baby?
Babies enjoy looking at people’s faces and toys of bright and contrasting colors.  They also enjoy touching different textures (smooth, soft, bumpy).  At first babies see best when things are 8 to 12 inches away.

Babies like to put things in their mouths.  Toys for babies should not have sharp edges or small parts.  Check small parts, such as eyes on stuffed animals, to make sure they are secure.  Toys should be made of washable fabric or plastic.

Does my baby need to ride in a car seat all the time?
Yes.  Remember, a car seat is the only safe place for your baby to ride.  Start this good habit with your baby’s first car ride – the one home from the hospital.  Know how to use your car seat before the first ride home.  Your baby’s car seat is safest in the center of the back seat.  Your baby should face the rear of the car until 1 year old and over 20 pounds.  An adult should ride in the back seat with your baby in the early weeks, especially on long drives.

Can my baby have visitors?  Can I take my baby shopping with me?
It is best to avoid large crowds (shopping centers, church nurseries, etc), until your baby is a little older.  Check with the doctor to see when you can take your baby to these places.  When you do take your baby out, it is okay to tell strangers not to touch your baby.

Respect your baby’s need for rest.  Allow only 2-3 visitors at a time.  Make sure they are not sick -- no colds or flu symptoms.

Comforting your Baby

Why do babies cry?
Crying is normal.  Babies cry when they are hungry, wet, uncomfortable, cold, hot, have gas or just want to be held.  By getting rid of the problem, your baby should quiet.  However, some babies cry and seem like they can’t be quieted.  To soothe a crying baby swaddle (wrap tightly) baby in a blanket, hold or rock your baby, sing to your baby, speak in a soft, higher-pitched voice.

Is it all right to give my baby a pacifier?
Babies need to suck and get great pleasure from it.  Some babies need to suck more than others.  Giving your baby a pacifier is a good way to meet this need.  (Giving an infant a pacifier does not mean he or she will want one for a long time.)   Doctors say that breast-fed babies should be nursing well before starting a pacifier (around 1 month old).

What if I cannot comfort my baby?
If you cannot calm and quiet your baby, do not worry.  Worrying will not help.  It is OK to let your baby cry for a short time if you can’t find anything wrong.  Check on your baby every few minutes to make sure he or she is all right.  As you get to know your baby better, you will be able to guess what is wrong more easily.  Never shake your baby.  A baby’s brain can be damaged from shaking.  When you feel like you may lose control, gently lay your baby in his or her crib, and go into another room.  Take deep breaths, count to 10, or call a friend.  Go back and try again to soothe your baby when you are more relaxed.

PDF: Child Health Information - INFANT SAFETY & COMFORT

Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).

La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.

Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.


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