by Emily Bloch
There may be very clear guidelines for much of newborn care, but once my baby was out of the first stages of infancy, things became a lot murkier. Suddenly I had a million new questions, and the answers weren't exactly obvious. "So, is it okay... now?" I found myself wondering every few weeks. Will it be safe when she reaches a certain age? Weight? Developmental stage? Below, pediatricians -- experienced moms themselves -- share what you need to know about safe sleeping, eating, playing, and more.
SLEEP: "Is my baby ready to..."
...snooze on her tummy? Since 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) first recommended putting babies to sleep on their backs, the annual sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) rate has decreased by about 50 percent. Like most moms, I've gotten this message loud and clear; so loud and clear, in fact, that the first time I discovered my 5-month-old had rolled over and was sleeping on her stomach, I freaked out.
What you need to know: By the time your baby has the upper-body strength to roll over regularly, at around 6 months, the risk of SIDS has gone down. "I tell my patients: You should still put them down on their backs, but what babies do in the middle of the night is their business," says Jennifer Shu, M.D., a pediatrician in Atlanta and coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn.