Keeping your baby healthy and safe: 6 weeks to 6 months

Find out how to keep your baby healthy and safe from 6 weeks to 6 months of age.

Keep your baby healthy

Keep your baby healthy by breastfeeding them, immunising them on time and having a smokefree home and car.

Breastfeeding is perfect for you and your baby. Keep your baby healthy by giving them only breastmilk until they are 6 months old. Many mothers go back to work and keep breastfeeding their babies.

Immunisation helps to protect your baby from diseases that can make your baby very sick or even die. Immunising on time may also help to protect babies from dying suddenly in their sleep. Immunisations are free and are due at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months of age. Talk to your doctor, practice nurse or Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse to find out more.

A smokefree home and car helps to protect your baby from chest infections, glue ear, asthma and dying suddenly in their sleep.

Babies and young children get sick often – coughs and colds are a normal part of childhood. They will usually get better after a few days. You can find out more about other childhood illnesses or from Kidshealth. If your baby is sick and doesn’t seem to be getting better or you are worried about your baby, ring Healthline (0800 611 116) or take them to their doctor or practice nurse.

Get help quickly from a doctor or phone 111 if your baby shows any of the danger signs.

Keep your baby safe

Important things to think about to keep your baby safe are keeping them safe in bed, car safety, burns and fire, sun, choking and drowning, and avoiding falls and other accidents.

Car safety

Use a baby car seat (or baby capsule) in all cars, for all trips. The car seat should be rear facing so that your baby faces the back of the car. Your baby should only be in a car seat or capsule when travelling in a car. Car seats and capsules are not safe for your baby to sleep in when you are at home or at your destination. Babies often grow out of their capsules at around 6 months of age (or when they weigh around 9 kg). If you have been using a capsule and your baby has grown out of it, you will need to get a car seat for your baby.

Burns and fire

Keep your baby safe from scalds and burns. Your tap-water temperature should be around 50°C – see if it’s OK by holding your hand under the running tap for 5 seconds. A plumber or electrician can fix the water temperature if it’s too hot. It’s best always to put the cold water into the bath first. Test that the bathwater is safe for your baby– it should be about 37°C. You can use your elbow to check the temperature – if it feels too hot for your elbow it will be too hot for baby.

Make sure that drinks are not too hot for your baby by testing the temperature on your wrist before giving them a bottle. Be very careful around baby with anything hot like drinks, pots and the iron.

Make sure that your house has smoke alarms – and check their batteries twice a year. The Fire Service website has advice on fire safety in the home. The website also has advice on designing an escape plan as well as a escape plan mobile app.

Choking and drowning

Babies can choke easily, so keep small, hard foods and small toys out of your baby’s reach and be careful with plastic bags and any cords, necklaces (such as amber beads and ‘teething necklaces’) and strings and ribbons on clothing, toys or around their cot. Avoid using cot bumpers and keep toys out of your baby’s cot.

The gaps between the bars of your baby’s cot must be between 50 mm and 95 mm. Try to get one with the gaps closer to 50 mm if you can. This will prevent your baby getting through or getting any part of themselves caught in the bars.

When your baby is in the bath, always keep a hand on them for support.

Avoiding falls and other accidents

Get down on the floor to check for dangers that your growing baby could roll towards – such as plugs and heaters. Use the harness in a pushchair and check for sharp parts on any toys. It’s best to change your baby on the floor; if they are on a higher surface make sure that you keep one hand on them all the time. Supervise cats and dogs closely when they are around baby.

Never shake, hit or smack your baby – a shake or hit could damage them forever. If you feel that you might shake, hit or smack a baby, put them in a safe place and walk away for a short time.

Related website

Keeping kids safe – Trading Standards
Choosing safe products and learning to use them safely can help to keep your kids safe. The products on this page are covered by product standards.

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