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Health and Safety for Infants (Birth - 12 Months)

baby sleeping on back in a crib

Health and Safety for Infants (Birth - 12 Months)

dad laying on floor propping up mini dry erase board while infant writes on board
There is a lot to learn during baby’s first year when it comes to keeping your child healthy and safe. There are regular doctor appointments, learning your baby’s feeding and sleeping patterns and things you should do to make your home a safe place for baby. We have provided some tips, information and resources to help you keep your infant healthy and safe. 

Safe Sleep

  • Put babies to sleep on their back at night and for naps to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Use a firm, flat tight fitting mattress in a crib or bassinet with a fitted sheet
  • Sleep your baby in the same room with you, but never in your bed with you
  • Do not put comforters, blankets, pillows or stuffed animals in the crib. They could suffocate your baby
Visit MDHHS Safe Sleep Site
baby in safe sleep position in crib
dad strapping baby in car seat

Car Safety

  • Place your baby in a rear-facing car seat
  • Make sure you know how to install your car seat correctly
  • Never put your baby in front seats with an airbag
  • Never leave your baby alone in a car. The air can heat up quickly and a baby can die
Choose The Right Car Seat

General Safety

  • Do not shake your baby – ever! Shaking your baby could cause brain damage or even death
  • Do not allow your baby to play with anything that might cover their face
  • Protect your baby from secondhand smoke. Do not smoke or allow anyone else to smoke around your baby
  • Do not allow your baby to play with small toys they could easily swallow and choke on
  • Never carry hot liquids or foods while holding your baby
baby next to cabinets with safety closures
baby in high chair being fed

Healthy Eating

  • Breast milk meets all your baby’s needs for about the first 6 months of life. Between 6 and 12 month, your baby will begin to eat healthy solid food, but breast milk can still be an important source of nutrition
  • As your baby starts to move beyond breast milk or formula, feed them slowly and patiently. Get them to try new tastes, but without force 
  • When your baby moves into solid foods, prevent them from choking by cutting their food into small bites

Healthy Bodies

  • Vaccines (shots) can protect your child from serious diseases. Talk to your baby’s doctor about vaccinations
  • Keeping your baby active is important for their development. Do physical activities with them to keep their arms and legs moving throughout the day. Getting down on the floor to move helps babies become stronger while learning to explore
  • Confining equipment could delay your baby’s development. Do not put your baby in a swing, stroller, bouncer seat, exercise saucer, or other confining equipment for long periods of time. Take them out and let them move about
doctor holding up smiling baby
grandparents reading to baby

Healthy Minds

  • Read, talk and sing to your baby to help their brains develop
  • Limit screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that it’s best for babies under 18 months to only use screen media for video chatting
  • Provide enough opportunities for your baby to sleep – the recommend amount of sleep for infants 4 – 12 months old is 12 – 16 hours per day (over a 24 hour period, including naps)

It's Not Too Early to Think About Oral Health

From newborn to baby's first birthday, there are things that you can do to help your baby's oral health. This infographic shares information for each oral health milestone of your child's first year.

View Mini Mouth Milestones

More Resources for Parents

Get Breastfeeding Help

Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your baby, but it can be challenging. is a good resource if you need help.

Get Positive Parenting Tips

Find positive things you can do as a parent broken out for every age group – in English and Spanish from the Center for Disease control.

Get Crying & Colic Info

Crying is natural and useful for babies. It’s how they let you know if they’re hungry or uncomfortable, among other things. has tips and advice if you’re having trouble with your child crying.

Find Infant Nutrition Info

Starting good nutrition practices early can help children develop healthy dietary patterns. Get information and practical strategies on healthy foods and drinks for infants.