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baby's health and safety essentials

Baby's surroundings are a world of wonder — a vast, uncharted territory of sights and sounds he'll be experiencing for the very first time. As he explores this new world, you'll want to protect him from illness, injury and potential dangers, whenever and wherever they may crop up. How can you keep him healthy and safe in your home and beyond? From first-aid kits to sunscreen, thermometers and safety gates, there are certain items no parent or caregiver should be without. We've put together some guidelines and essentials you'll need to help keep baby safe and sound.

  • health and baby care: In the first several years of life, children can't always communicate their symptoms, so it's important to monitor their health and wellness closely. Consider investing in a first-aid kit, as well as a health and grooming kit that comes with essentials such as a thermometer, aspirator, medicine, comb and nail clipper. You can also purchase these items separately.
  • baby monitors: A baby monitor helps you keep close tabs on your sleeping child without being in the same room. There are a range of monitors to choose from, depending on your needs and preferences, including audio, video, web-compatible, and movement sensor.
  • skin care: To protect and nourish baby's delicate skin, use products that are both safe and gentle. Diaper creams and ointments seal out wetness, relieve chafing, and prevent and treat diaper rash; lotions, moisturizers, and oils guard against dryness and odor. And to make bathtime a soothing experience, look for specially formulated baby shampoos and body washes. If you're thinking green, select organic and natural products.
  • sunscreen: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even just a few serious sunburns can increase your child's skin cancer risk later in life. To help protect babies 6 months and older against damaging UV rays, the CDC recommends applying a sunscreen with broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) protection — and an SPF of at least 15 — every time baby goes outside. In addition, you should always dress your child in protective clothing and a hat. And avoid the sun completely during midday. For babies younger than 6 months, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using sunscreen only on select areas of the body, such as the face and the backs of the hands, if protective clothing and shade are not available. Keep in mind that not all sunscreens are created equal, so be sure to read the ingredient list. Also remember to follow manufacturer's instructions, and if your baby's skin reacts badly to a product, contact a medical professional immediately.
  • pacifiers and teethers: For many babies, pacifiers can be a source of comfort. They come in a variety of colors and materials, from natural rubber and soft latex to hospital-grade silicone. Like pacifiers, teethers can also help soothe baby. When choosing a teether, keep in mind that it should be sized so that he can grip it and put it in his mouth. Teethers can be stored in the refrigerator to provide cooling relief, but should never be stored in the freezer.
  • humidifiers and vaporizers: Humidifiers and vaporizers can help relieve cold and flu symptoms, itchy skin, and even chapped lips. While humidifiers create a cool mist, vaporizers produce a hot steam. In both cases, it's important to clean these devices regularly, which will help keep bacteria at bay so baby can breathe more easily.
  • safety gates: Once baby starts to crawl, explore or use a walker, safety gates help keep your curious adventurer from wandering into areas of your home that aren't baby-safe. While some safety gates can be hardware — mounted to walls or furniture — others rely on pressure to keep them in place.
  • laundry and cleaning essentials: There are specially formulated laundry and cleaning supplies that remove tough stains without irritating baby's sensitive skin. Look for baby laundry detergents, dryer sheets, and stain removers that are gentle. And don't forget hand sanitizers, which can help ward off germs and illness.

    Taking the necessary precautions and following standard preventative steps will ensure healthier and safer conditions for your little one and also give you piece of mind.