A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Advice for new parents: Help keep your new baby healthy and safe

A new baby for first-time parents can bring joy, excitement and hope. It may also bring feelings of uncertainty, doubt or confusion. There’s no shortage of advice that exists for new parents on caring for your baby.

Know what resources are available to you, but proceed with caution when it comes to determining what is best for you and your infant.

If there’s conflicting parenting information, know your reliable sources

Childhood vaccines

Vaccines are a proven effective way to prevent certain infectious diseases and boost the body’s natural immune response. Having concerns or questions about vaccines is understandable.

“Families are always encouraged to discuss any vaccine questions or hesitations with their primary care provider or pediatrician,” said Dr. Nicole Giles, pediatrician with Marshfield Children’s. “We have a variety of resources and handouts to help guide parents, including vaccine information sheets. Parents can expect a detailed conversation regarding vaccination at well-child visits.”

Having these conversation during appointments with your provider helps ensure the information is coming form someone who knows your child, their health history and your concerns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also offers trusted resources. The CDC offers information dedicated to parents to help understand the vaccine schedule and emphasizes the important reasons each vaccine is needed to help prevent serious diseases.

Parent holding baby's handing.

Know what resources are available to you, but proceed with caution when it comes to determining what is best for you and your infant.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also provides information on healthychildren.org, with answers to common questions and vaccine scheduling.

Learn more: Debunking vaccine myths

Sleep safety

“Trying to get a newborn to sleep in the first six weeks can be a challenge. There are a lot of products sold in stores marketed to help with safe sleep that are generally not considered safe and can increase risk of infant suffocation,” said Dr. Giles.

Infants should always sleep alone on their back, lying on a firm mattress without extra pillows or blankets.

Learn more: Safe sleep for babies.


There is no shortage of resources when it comes to breastfeeding tips or questions.

“Pediatricians, labor and delivery nurses, lactation nurses and online blogs are great sources for you. Generally, if parents want to breastfeed, I encourage them to seek advice from whoever they feel comfortable with. I always remind parents with a newborn that breastfeeding is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time, maybe days to weeks, for a breastmilk supply and routine to become established,” said Dr. Giles. “This time includes time for the newborn and mom to learn what to do. Patience and persistence is key.”

Some things are tried-and-true

There are some new parent recommendations that are put in place for your baby’s safety and health. These are highly-encouraged to help provide the best care for your baby. However, if you have questions or concerns about these practices, talk to your child’s health care provider.

These include:

  • Sleep practices to prevent SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
  • Avoiding smoke exposure to reduce the risk of illness or lung injury
  • Keep up-to-date with the recommend vaccine schedule
  • Using breastmilk or baby formula for nutrition
  • Always using a car seat, making sure it is facing the right way and having it installed properly

We know it can be overwhelming

There are a lot of choices to make as new parents, and those choices naturally come with questions.

“Take a deep breath, step back and think big picture,” said Dr. Giles. “There are infinite choices to make as a parent and it can be daunting. Avoid the rabbit holes of parenting blogs and comments on the internet. These may provide good advice, but it is hard for sleep-deprived, stressed new parents to sort through non-researched opinions to find good and reputable sources.”

When in doubt, ask for help. Parenting is a hard, but rewarding, job. Your child’s pediatric provider is a great source of information. Parents and guardians are encouraged to talk to their child’s provider for any newborn or parenting concerns.

For help with your newborn, talk to a Marshfield Children’s provider.

Schedule appointment Message your provider

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