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Health & Baby

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Growth and Development, Ages 1 to 12 Months - Promoting Healthy Growth and Development

A baby goes through so many changes that it can be hard for you to keep up with all the things experts say you "should be" doing to promote healthy growth and development.

Remember that the best things for your baby are usually the simplest. Loving, holding, changing diapers for, talking to, and feeding your baby are the things to focus on. The rest will fall into place.

But you can always learn more about how to help your baby grow and develop in healthy ways.

Physical health and development

  • Try to breast-feed for at least the first year of life. Breast milk is the ideal food for babies.
  • Learn your baby's rhythms. You will gradually get a sense of your baby's unique sleeping and eating patterns and be able to help establish a routine by about 3 months of age. But be prepared to make adjustments as needed.
  • Help keep your baby's head from getting too flat. It's important to always put your baby to sleep on his or her back. But always sleeping on the back may make your baby's head a little flat. You can help keep it from getting too flat by changing his or her head position regularly.
    • Allow your baby "tummy time" while he or she is awake and you are closely watching. Tummy time also helps your baby develop motor skills.
    • Cuddle your baby while holding his or her head up as much as you can. Don't place your baby in car seat carriers or bouncers for long periods each day.
    • Change your baby's head position during sleep at least every week. (Remember to always keep your baby on his or her back during naps and at bedtime.) A good way to make sure your baby's head rests in different positions is to switch which end of the bed you place him or her in each week. Babies usually turn their heads away from the wall, toward the inside of a room.
  • Start to care for your child's teethas soon as you see the first baby tooth (primary tooth camera.gif).
    Basic Dental Care
    Brushing and Flossing a Child's Teeth
  • Keep your baby safe from injury, drowning, burns, poisoning, and other dangers.
  • Choose child care wisely. Before you take your baby to a child care center, check the health policies of the center. Get the names of people and agencies you can talk to about the care center's safety record. For more information, see the topic Choosing Child Care.

For more information about health and safety, see the topic Health and Safety, Birth to Age 2.

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