Preparing the family for everything a baby needs requires a lot of work. Newborn needs; like round-the-clock feedings and diaper changes, can feel very demanding, and getting into the rhythm of breastfeeding often comes with its own challenges. Another challenge is remembering to care for your own needs as a new mother, and identifying potential issues such as postpartum depression (PPD). Though the rewards outweigh it all, it’s important to know how to find help when you need it most.
With all the questions you may have, it’s important to find resources to help you through your baby’s many stages. Browse the Categories to learn more about what is available in your area.
Car Seat Safety
Your baby's car seat is one of the most important items to prepare ahead of time - you can't leave the hospital without one!
Check your car seat for the following:
Never been in an accident
Has a 5-point harness
Is rear-facing (until a minimum of 1 year old and 20 lbs)
Buckle baby in safely:
Install the seat before going to the hospital
Never install a car seat directly in front of an airbag
The car seat should not move more than 1 inch along the seat belt path
Your baby should be snug inside the car seat when buckled
Harness straps should be placed through the slot at (or below) baby's shoulder level
Chest clips should be placed at the the baby's armpit level
Find Car Seat Installation Assistance
Find Car Seat Recalls & Consumer Safety Reports
Handling a Newborn
If you haven't spent a lot of time around newborns, their fragility may be intimidating. Here are a few basics to remember:
Wash your hands
(or use a hand sanitizer) before handling your baby. Newborns don't have a strong immune system yet, so they are susceptible to infection. Make sure that everyone who handles your baby has clean hands.
Support your baby's head and neck
Cradle the head when carrying your baby and support the head when carrying the baby upright or when you lay your baby down.
Do not shake your newborn
Whether in play or in frustration. Shaking that is vigorous can cause bleeding in the brain and even death. If you need to wake your infant, don't do it by shaking — instead, tickle your baby's feet or blow gently on a cheek.
Limit any activity that could be too rough or bouncy
Life used to be especially brutal for children before vaccines, with huge numbers suffering or dying from diseases like measles, smallpox, whooping cough, or rubella, to name just a few. Today these ailments can be completely prevented with a simple injection. Fears over the safety of vaccines are understandable, though. Here are 8 major vaccine myths you should keep in mind:
Myth #1: Vaccines cause autism
The widespread fear that vaccines increase risk of autism originated in 1997 when a prestigious medical journal from England suggested that the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine was increasing autism in British children. The hypothesis was taken seriously, and several other major studies were conducted. None of them found a link between any vaccine and the likelihood of developing autism. Today, the true causes of autism remain a mystery.
Myth #2: Infant immune systems can’t handle so many vaccines
Based on the number of antibodies present in the blood, a baby would theoretically have the ability to respond to around 10,000 vaccines at one time. Even if all 14 scheduled vaccines were given at once, it would only use up slightly more than 0.1% of a baby’s immune capacity. The immune system could never truly be overwhelmed because the cells in the system are constantly being replenished. Babies are exposed to countless bacteria and viruses every day, and immunizations are negligible in comparison. Though there are more vaccinations than ever before, today’s vaccines are far more efficient. Small children are actually exposed to fewer immunologic components overall than children in past decades.
Myth #3: Natural immunity is better than vaccine-acquired immunity
In some cases, natural immunity — meaning actually catching a disease and getting sick– results in a stronger immunity to the disease than a vaccination. However, the dangers of this approach far outweigh the relative benefits. If you wanted to gain immunity to measles, by contracting the disease, you would face a 1 in 500 chance of death from your symptoms. In contrast, the number of people who have had severe allergic reactions from an MMR vaccine, is less than one-in-one million.
Myth #4: Vaccines contain unsafe toxins
People have concerns over the use of formaldehyde, mercury or aluminum in vaccines. It’s true that these chemicals are toxic to the human body in certain levels, but only trace amounts of these chemicals are used in FDA approved vaccines. There is no scientific evidence that the low levels of this chemical, mercury or aluminum in vaccines can be harmful.
Myth #5: Better hygiene and sanitation are actually responsible for decreased infections, not vaccines
Better sanitation, nutrition, and the development of antibiotics take credit in reducing or eliminating rates of infectious disease. But when these factors are isolated and rates of infectious disease are scrutinized, the role of vaccines cannot be denied. When the first measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, rates of infection had been holding steady at around 400,000 cases a year. And while hygienic habits and sanitation didn’t change much over the following decade, the rate of measles infections dropped precipitously following the introduction of the vaccine, with only around 25,000 cases by 1970. Another example is Hib disease. According to CDC data, the incidence rate for this malady plummeted from 20,000 in 1990 to around 1,500 in 1993, following the introduction of the vaccine.
Myth #6: Vaccines aren’t worth the risk
Despite parent concerns, children have been successfully vaccinated for decades. In fact, there has never been a single credible study linking vaccines to long term health conditions.
As for immediate danger from vaccines, in the form of allergic reactions or severe side effects, the incidence of death are so rare they can’t even truly be calculated. The overall incidence rate of severe allergic reaction to vaccines is usually placed around one case for every one or two million injections.
Myth #7: Vaccines can infect my child with the disease it’s trying to prevent
Vaccines can cause mild symptoms resembling those of the disease they are protecting against. A common misconception is that these symptoms signal infection. Less than 1 in one million cases where symptoms do occur, the vaccine recipients are experiencing a body’s immune response to the vaccine, not the disease itself. Vaccines have been in safe use for decades and follow strict Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations.
Myth #8: We don’t need to vaccinate because infection rates are already so low in the United States.
So long as a large majority of people are immunized in any population, even the unimmunized minority will be protected. With so many people resistant, an infectious disease will never get a chance to establish itself and spread. This is important because there will always be a portion of the population – infants, pregnant women, elderly, and those with weakened immune systems – that can’t receive vaccines.
But if too many people don’t vaccinate themselves or their children, they contribute to a collective danger, opening up opportunities for viruses and bacteria to establish themselves and spread.
Sources: Public Health. Available at: http://www.publichealth.org/public-awareness/understanding-vaccines/vaccine-myths-debunked/