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Health Bulletin Winter 2009

Getting Babies Off to a Healthy Start

Are you expecting a baby? Do you have a new baby in the family? Here are a few ways to make sure that your baby gets off to a healthy start!


Your baby should be seen by a health care provider within the first week after you leave the hospital. A doctor or nurse should make sure that your baby is feeding and growing well, and does not have other problems that may need attention. Your baby should also have check ups when he or she is 1, 2, 4 and 6 months old, and a few times a year after that.

Immunizations/Baby Shots

Although your baby usually will have one vaccine (a Hepatitis B shot) in the nursery before coming home, your baby will need to receive more vaccines in the next few months to prevent many illnesses. Many diseases that used to cause serious problems for babies in the past are now prevented with vaccines and shots. So remember to keep all of your child’s appointments.

Putting Your Baby "Back to Sleep"

Your baby will sleep a lot during the first few months. To keep your baby safe, have a crib for your baby, and put your baby on his/her back to sleep in the crib. Keep the crib in your bedroom if you can. Also, keep soft bedding and stuffed animals out of the crib. Even to take a nap, your baby should sleep alone in the crib, and not on sofas, chairs, or large beds. Make sure the room is not too hot or too cold (about 70 degrees), and free of cigarette smoke.

Babies Sleep Alone

Your baby should sleep alone in the crib. Do not bring your baby into bed with you. Bed sharing is dangerous for your baby: you, or another family member, could roll onto your baby while sleeping.

Healthy Families Protect Baby

Flu, colds, cigarette smoke. These can all be very harmful to your baby. Family members and friends can take these simple steps to keep your baby healthy.

Adults—get your vaccines (shots) Make sure that everyone in your home (brother, sister, grandparents) get flu shots. These shots will keep them from getting sick with germs that can hurt babies.

Adults and teenagers who spend time near babies should also get a "Tdap" shot to prevent pertussis, or whooping cough. This disease can be very harmful for babies. Most babies who get whooping cough catch it from a family member, usually an adult, who has the disease. Getting these shots can help save your baby’s life.

Wash Your Hands

Everyone should wash their hands before they hold, touch, or feed your baby. If possible, try to not touch babies when you are sick.

No Smoking Around Baby

Cigarette smoke will hurt your baby. If you smoke, you should smoke outside. To learn about free stop smoking classes, go to

Looking for Health Care?

Philadelphia health centers provide high-quality medical and dental services to anyone who lives in Philadelphia. For more information, contact a health center near you.