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    15 Life-Or-Death Things Everyone Needs To Know Before They Care For An Infant

    Babies under 12 months of age should never have plain water.

    It's time we all learned some very important facts about infants (babies under 1 year of age). To find out what we should know about these tiny humans, BuzzFeed spoke to Kara Fine, MD, who is a pediatrician at the Mayo Clinic.

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    1. You should never give honey to a baby under 12 months of age.


    Fine said, "The reason we recommend against honey is because it can be contaminated with botulism spores. Older children and adults are able to handle something like that, but it can make a younger infant very sick. The overall risk is low, but it's not a chance we take." Fine added that when you're introducing other foods to babies, it's all about making sure the food is not a choking hazard.

    2. Nothing should be in an infant's crib before they are 1 year of age — not even a blanket.


    This is to prevent suffocation. Fine said if parents are concerned about the temperature, they should put their baby in a fleece sleeper. This practice is also to lower the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Fine said the greatest risk period for SIDS is between 2 and 4 months of age. "If a baby has an autopsy and exam of the environment and there's no other reason found for the infant's death, then it is SIDS. You may have a vulnerable infant, there may be genetic factors, or — for whatever reason — a baby may be more prone to having apnea while they are sleeping. But there seems to be some environmental factors that play into it as well. So to prevent it from happening, we recommend placing infants on a firm, flat surface without any surrounding pillows or blankets."

    3. And you should always lay an infant on their back when they are sleeping or napping.

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    "Since [the start of] the Back to Sleep campaign, parents have been laying their babies on their backs, and we've seen a significant decrease in sudden infant death syndrome. Babies do sleep better on their stomachs, but that is part of the problem," said Fine.

    4. You should never give a baby under 1 year of age cow's milk.


    Fine said this reason is related to overall gut maturity. "If you're giving cow's milk rather than breast milk or formula, the composition is slightly different, so you're probably putting your baby at a higher risk for iron deficiency, anemia, and things like that." As babies transition to solid foods, however, parents can give things like whole-milk yogurt, just as long as the baby isn't drinking a whole bunch of cow's milk.

    5. And you should never give water to an infant under 6 months of age.

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    "Babies aren't able to process free water, so if they are given enough water, it can cause problems with the amount of sodium in their blood, and that can cause problems like seizures and sometimes bigger issues in extreme cases," said Fine. She said formulas are manufactured so that the amount of water you add to them is safe to give to a baby (which is why you should always follow the recommenced water-to-formula ratio and never water down formula). "If a baby under 6 months is sweating and you are worried about hydration, it is safest to just give them breast milk or formula," she added.

    6. You should never swaddle a baby's legs too tightly.


    Fine said you can swaddle the upper body tightly, but it's important not to swaddle the legs too tight. "The baby's legs should not be swaddled straight out because it can increase the risk of hip dysplasia or other problems with the hips," she said. "You want the baby to be able to kick their legs and not be swaddled so tightly that they are unable to move their legs."

    7. You should never let an infant fall asleep in inclined sleeping devices.


    Fine said, "It is OK if you're right there watching, but it is not safe for long-term sleep by any means. Babies should not routinely sleep in car seats, 'rock and plays,' swings, or things like that."

    8. You should never let an infant ride in an expired car seat.


    This is because whatever materials the car seat is made from will eventually weaken and might not be as effective in an accident. "If your car seat just expired two months ago, is it any less effective? Probably not, but you have to draw the line somewhere for safety's sake. Can you imagine how you would feel if your car seat was two years expired and your baby got an injury in a car accident? You would always wonder if that injury would have happened had you not had an expired car seat," said Fine.

    9. And a child should remain rear-facing in their car seat until they're at least 1 year old.


    "In general, all state laws require infants to be rear-facing up to one year, and some states require two years. Relatively recently, the [American Academy of Pediatrics] came out with a recommendation to have children remain in rear-facing car seats for as long as they are within the weight and height requirements of the car seat — and a lot of kids fit in convertible car seats up to 3 or 4 years of age. It may look or seem uncomfortable for the child, but it is also the safest way for them to ride," said Fine.

    10. Infants under 2 months of age who have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher need emergency attention.


    "This could be a sign of a more serious underlying infection in newborns and infants under 2 months of age," said Fine.

    11. The soft spot on an infant's head might be able to tell you if the baby is dehydrated or if something is going on intercranially.


    "A baby's soft spot closes on its own [at] up to 23 months of life, and parents don't need to take any special care of it. Early on in a baby’s life, the spot can be helpful because if it is sunken in, it could be a sign of dehydration, and if it is bulging, there could something intercranially going on. For parents, it's fine to touch it, but not to press on it," Fine said.

    12. You should never give an infant under 2 months of age acetaminophen (Tylenol), or an infant under 6 months of age ibuprofen (Advil).


    A general rule of thumb: "Don't give infants under 2 months of age Tylenol, and don't give infants under 6 months of age ibuprofen," Fine said. "As far as dosing and over-the-counter medicines for infants, I would always check with the baby's pediatrician to see what they recommend as far as dosing," she added.

    13. You shouldn't give a baby benzocaine products — like Orajel — to help with teething.

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    "In products with benzocaine, if you use too much, it can cause a blood disorder called methemoglobinemia. So we tell parents to stay away from numbing gels that can be used in the mouth for teeth pain," Fine said. "Use Tylenol [for infants older than 2 months] or ibuprofen [for infants older than 6 months] instead. Infants older than 6 months of age can safely take either. Otherwise, you can freeze a damp washcloth for them to chew on."

    14. You should never prop up a baby's bottle to feed them.

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    Fine said, "If you prop a bottle, the baby really doesn't have a choice to stop; they are going to continue sucking. They suck for comfort, so you might end up overfeeding the baby. If you are actively feeding a baby, you will see cues from the baby as to when they are full or done, and that is important for their long-term health of being able to self-regulate. In addition, propped bottles can also cause a baby to choke."

    15. People who are actively coughing or have a fever or a runny nose shouldn't be around a newborn until their symptoms have been gone for at least two days.


    Fine said that hand sanitizer or soap is a must before anyone holds or touches your baby. In addition, she said, parents should use caution for the first months of their baby's life when taking them out in public. "Ideally, you want to wait until they get that first round of immunizations. That doesn't mean that you can't go to the grocery store, but I would say if you are going do that, keep the baby in the car seat so people aren't trying to touch the baby."

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