As a parent, it’s up to you to provide the care your baby needs to thrive. Here are a few things you can do to help your baby reach his or her full potential:
- Get prenatal care – Without prenatal care, babies are seven times more likely to be born premature, three times more likely to be at a low birth weight and five times more likely to die. Find an OB-Gyn, nurse practitioner or midwife for regular check-ins to make sure both you and your baby stay healthy throughout your pregnancy.
- Consider breastfeeding – This is one of the best things you can do for your baby. Breast milk provides important antibodies, prevents infection and strengthens the immune system. It also helps protect your baby against obesity, diabetes and cancer.
- Provide lots of affection – Physical touch and closeness promote healthy brain and emotional development, setting your baby up for success later in life.
- Establish a schedule – Although it’s challenging to achieve during the first few months of life, establishing a feeding and sleeping schedule can help provide a feeling of security for your baby.
- Read to your baby – When babies hear different words and sounds, they develop better language skills. You can begin reading to your baby soon after he or she is born.
- Practice tummy time – This is a great opportunity for your baby to explore and interact with his or her environment. It also helps your baby develop motor skills and is the first step in learning how to roll over, sit, stand and walk. While your baby is practicing tummy time, you can talk, sing or read to him or her or provide a small toy, such as a rattle.
- Clear the crib – The safest sleep position for your baby is on his or her back. Also make sure you have tight-fitting crib sheets and keep stuffed animals and other toys out of the bed.
If you have questions about how your baby is developing, a pediatrician can help. You’ll see your doctor regularly within the first year to monitor your baby’s length and weight and make sure he or she is meeting developmental milestones. These visits are also a good time to ask questions and get vaccines and immunizations to help protect your baby against illness and disease.
To find a pediatrician near you, contact your health insurance provider.