Congratulations on your new addition!
Newborn and Infant Care: Information for a Healthy Start
Congratulations on your new addition!
You’ve been preparing for your baby’s arrival for months, and now it’s time to bring your precious newborn home. It’s an exciting time, but it can feel a little overwhelming. Here are some tips help make your homecoming as stress-free as possible and give your baby a healthy start.
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! Hawaii state law mandates that all children under the age of 4 must be restrained in a federally approved child safety seat. Drivers found in violation of this law can face fines up to $500.
It is best to install a car seat in your vehicle before going to the hospital for your delivery. That way, you can familiarize yourself with your car seat’s operation and features and be well prepared when it’s time to bring your baby home.
Check your car seat for the following:
- Expiration date. Most child safety seats expire 6 years after the date of manufacture, although some may last longer. If you can’t find the expiration date printed on the car seat, check the owner’s manual or call the manufacturer.
- Never been in an accident. It can be dangerous to use a carseat that is beyond its expiration date or one that has been in an accident.
- Has a 5-point harness. This type of harness attaches at both shoulders, both hips, and between the baby’s legs and is considered the safest.
- Is rear-facing. Until your child is a minimum of 1 year old and weighs 20 lbs, he or she must ride in a rear-facing car seat.
Buckle baby in safely:
- 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 a (or below) baby’s shoulder level.
- Chest clips should be placed at the baby’s armpit level.
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 and share with others who may be caring for your baby:
- Wash your hands. Before handling your baby, be sure to wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer. 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.
- Never shake your newborn, whether in play or 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.
Infant and Childhood Vaccinations
Vaccinations have kept children healthy and have saved millions of lives for more than 50 years, in some instances completely eradicating deadly diseases. However, in recent years some people have expressed concern over the safety of vaccines. The American Academy of Pediatricians wants parents to know that vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary. Be sure to discuss vaccinations and the recommended schedule with your child’s pediatrician.
Don’t Forget to Care for Yourself
Newborn needs, like round-the-clock feedings and diaper changes, and feel very demanding. Even 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.
Ask for help when you need it, and be aware of potential issues such as postpartum depression (PPD). Though the rewards outweigh the rest, it’s important to know how to find help when you need it the most. If you think you may be suffering from postpartum depression, reach out to your healthcare provider for screening and treatment.
Infant and Childhood Vaccinations: Myth vs Fact
Parents want to protect their precious babies from harm, and vaccination is one of the best ways to prevent children from diseases that can cause illness and even death. Today, over 16 devastating diseases can be prevented by following the recommended vaccination schedule approved by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
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, just to name a few. Today, these ailments can be completely prevented with a simple injection. Fears over the safety of vaccines are understandable, although they are often based on myth instead of fact. Here are eight major vaccine myths you should keep in mind and discuss with your child’s pediatrician.
Myth #1: Vaccines cause autism.
The widespread fear that vaccines increase the 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 development of autism. Today, the causes of autism remain unknown.
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 these chemicals 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 infections dropped precipitously following the introduction of the vaccine, with only around 25,000 cases by 1970. Another example is Hib disease (Haemophilus influenzae type b). According to CDC data, the incidence rate for Hib plummeted from 20,000 in 1990 to around 1,500 in 1993 following the introduction of the HIV vaccine.
Myth #6: Vaccines aren’t worth the risk.
Despite parent concern, children have been vaccinated successfully 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 is so rare it 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 to 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 the are protecting against. A common misconception is that these symptoms signal infection. In the less than one 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, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems–who 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.
1) Hawaii’s Child Passenger Restraint Law, Hawaii.gov. Available at: https://portal.ehawaii.gov/visitors/getting-around/traffic-safety-and-driving-laws/
2) Car Seats: Information for Families, HealthyChildren.org from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Car-Safety-Seats-Information-for-Families.aspx
3) Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence, HealthyChildren.org from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/immunizations/Pages/Vaccine-Studies-Examine-the-Evidence.aspx
4) Public Health. Available at: