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Growth and Development, Newborn - Promoting Healthy Growth and Development

For healthy growth and development, newborns need physical and emotional care. You enhance development and give your newborn a sense of security and being loved by:

Although your baby's needs are basic, it is important to respond promptly to his or her cues and to recognize safety issues.

  • Reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by always placing your baby to sleep on his or her back (not on the stomach). Make sure that the crib mattress is firm and covered by a sheet and that there are no pillows or blankets that could block the baby's mouth or nose. For more information, see the topic Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Make sure all safety standards are met for your baby's nursery items. For more information, see the topic Nursery Equipment Safety Checklist.
  • Support your newborn's head. In the first few months, your baby's neck muscles are weak, and the head needs to be supported at all times.
  • Buy a car seat that is appropriate for a newborn, and use it properly. And always use a car seat when traveling with your baby on an airplane.
  • Do not leave your baby alone with a pet.
  • Never leave your newborn alone or in the care of an older child while the baby is:
    • In the bathtub.
    • On a changing table or other place where he or she could fall or get injured.
  • Post emergency numbers in several places throughout your house. Or store them in your cell phone. Include numbers for your doctor, friends, and neighbors. Keep your local Poison Control Center number handy, too.
  • Never shake your baby. A baby's skull is not developed enough to protect it against injury. Shaking your baby in anger or frustration can lead to shaken baby syndrome. Get help right away if you feel that you or another caregiver might hurt your baby. Call 911 if it is an emergency. Call your doctor, a friend, a relative, or a parent hotline if you are feeling overwhelmed to the point that you feel you are not able to care for your baby.
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