The birth of a child is a special time for families, and as a new mom, keeping your little one safe is your top priority. But amidst the joy and celebration, lesser-known ways to protect your newborn’s health can easily be overlooked. Consider these three tips for safeguarding your baby’s well-being.
Get Your Shots
Newborns are too young to be immunized, but mothers and their unborn babies have a shared immune system. The latest research shows that maternal antibodies against the flu as well as other illnesses like whooping cough are formed when mothers are vaccinated during pregnancy. In fact, currently, having mothers get flu shots is the only known way to protect newborns from the flu short of measures such as rigorous handwashing and asking sick well-wishers to avoid visiting until they’re symptom-free.
Supervise Your Newborn Around Dogs
Dogs are naturally curious about newborns, and they can be protective, but they may also perceive a new human in the household as a threat. Because a bite is a serious injury, animal behaviorists typically recommend caution when introducing babies to dogs—even if there is no known history of aggression. Babies smell like humans, but they’re also noisy, and that can be scary for your four-legged friend.
The best way to keep your newborn safe around the family dog is to let them get to know each other slowly. Supervise all interactions, and if the dog shows any hostility, admonish him swiftly and seek professional training if the behavior continues.
Pediatricians also recommend against letting your dog lick your newborn’s face. Dogs self-groom, and potentially harmful bacteria from feces may be transmitted from a dog’s tongue to your baby’s eyes and mouth.
Control Your Stress
Studies suggest that newborns exposed to parental stress may develop abnormal responses to stressful stimuli. Experiments show that when mothers are anxious, babies mirror those feelings.
As with adults, an infant’s body releases abnormally high levels of cortisol—a fight-or-flight hormone—when stressed. Too much cortisol can impact blood sugar levels, digestive functions and brain development in newborns. Stress isn’t always avoidable, but taking care of yourself and getting enough rest minimizes its effects on your little one.
Having a newborn baby in your home can be stressful and it can be hard to know what to do to keep them healthy. Babies are fragile, but mothers are tough. With advice from your pediatrician and these expert tips, your newborn will enjoy the best possible health during those precious months.