Keeping your baby healthy and safe: the first 6 weeks

Find out how to keep your baby healthy and safe during their first 6 weeks.

Keep your baby healthy

Keep your baby healthy by breastfeeding them, immunising them on time and having a smokefree home and car. Make sure that your baby is enrolled with a general practice, a Well Child Tamariki Ora service and the Community Oral Health Service. Your midwife can help you with this.

Breastfeeding is perfect for you and your baby. If you are giving a dummy or pacifier to your baby, do not dip it in sugar, honey or sweetened drinks.

Immunisation helps to protect your baby from serious diseases and from dying suddenly in their sleep. Immunisations are free and start at 6 weeks of age.

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

If your baby is sick

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 your midwife or 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 and staying safe in the sun.

Prevent your baby dying in their sleep – keep baby safe in bed

Keep your baby safe in bed to protect them from dying suddenly in their sleep.

Make sure that your baby is in their own bassinet, cot or other baby bed (eg, a pēpi-pod® or wahakura) for every sleep – and is in the same room as you or the person looking after them at night.

Check that bars on cots, playpens, stairs, verandahs and stair guards are secure and vertical. 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.

Cot mattresses should be clean and dry and fit snugly in the cot, with no gaps around the edges.

Avoid using cot bumpers and keep toys out of your baby’s cot.

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.

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.

Be careful with hot drinks and avoid drinking them while you are holding your baby.

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 making an escape plan.

Never shake, hit or smack your 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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