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How to Keep Your Baby Healthy continued...

Follow the vaccination schedule. Experts are unanimous: one of the most important ways of protecting your kids from other people's illnesses is to make sure they're getting all their vaccines.

"A lot of people don't realize this," says Frenck, "but two of the most important things we've done in medicine are getting people to wash their hands and getting them the recommended vaccines."

Contrary to what you might hear, vaccines don't only protect against diseases that have now become rare. Altmann says that she's seen a huge drop in cases of meningitis in the last ten years because of the pneumococcal and Hib vaccines. The newer rotavirus vaccine has also made a difference, she says.

"Every winter, we also used to hospitalize a number of infants with vomiting, diarrhea, and severe fever caused by rotavirus," Altmann tells WebMD. "But since we started giving the rotavirus vaccine three years ago, those numbers are way down."

So make sure that your kid is up on her vaccines. If you have any concerns about vaccines or the schedule, talk them over with your child's pediatrician.

Don't worry too much. If you can't intervene fast enough to prevent someone from touching your baby, don't freak out.

"When I took my babies out in public, people would come up and pinch their cheeks," says Laura A. Jana, MD, a pediatrician in Omaha, Neb. and co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn. "I just waited until they walked away and discretely wiped them off."

Remember that you are the parent. It's easy to feel cowed by pushy relatives clamoring to hold your baby. But remember, this is your kid. You're in charge and it's your responsibility to keep your baby healthy. If you're not comfortable with other people holding him, just say so. People might be more respectful of a parent's wishes than you expect. (And even if they're not, who cares?)

When Germ Precautions Don't Work

Of course, no matter what you do, your baby is going to get sick anyway. It just happens.

Want More Information on Keeping Your Family Healthy?

Sign up for WedMD's Parenting and Children's health newsletter to get tips and games that inspire healthy habits.

The Nastiest Places Your Kids Will Find

Find the germ traps, both inside and outside your home.
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