Vaccination is one of the most important tools available for preventing disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vaccinations not only protect children from developing a potentially serious disease but also protect the community by reducing the spread of infectious disease.
Most children get all their shots during childhood. Parents need to make sure their children are protected against some of the diseases of childhood before the child reaches 2 years of age.
Parents should consult their doctors about which vaccines their children should have and when. Keep track of your children’s immunizations yourself. You will be asked for these records when the child enrolls in school and throughout the child’s school career.
Watching your baby receive his or her first shot may be more painful for you than it is for your baby. You can ease your anxiety and make your baby more comfortable during his or her shots by holding your baby. If you are breastfeeding, nursing your baby during any uncomfortable procedure will also help both of you get through it more easily.
At your baby’s 2-month checkup at your pediatrician’s office, your baby will receive his or her first full set of vaccines against multiple childhood diseases, including polio, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, H. influenza, hepatitis B, pneumococcal disease and, most recently, an oral vaccine for Rotavirus, a major cause of diarrhea and dehydration in young children.
With two types of vaccine against rotavirus (stomach flu) now available for infants, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued recommendations that allow for more flexibility in dosing. The Rotarix vaccine, introduced in 2008, is active against a single strain of the virus and is given in two doses, ideally at 2 and 4 months. Now, under the CDC’s new guidelines, the first dose may be given up to the age of almost 15 weeks (previously 12 weeks) and the second up to eight months (previously 32 weeks). The RotaTeq vaccine, which is active against five strains of the virus, still requires three doses, given at 2, 4, and 6 months. Ask your pediatrician for more details about the two vaccines.
This checkup usually involves three shots given in the thigh, which is a baby’s biggest muscle. While most babies show no side effects, these vaccines can cause a little fussiness or a slight fever later in the day or evening. Your baby will receive more doses of vaccines at 4, 6, 12, 15, and 18 months, with another set of booster shots between his 4- and 6-year-old birthdays. Keep a record of your baby’s vaccinations to be sure that none are missed. Outbreaks of measles and pertussis (also known as whooping cough) and other dangerous diseases still occur.
Get your baby’s pediatrician’s help if you need
When you take your baby to visit the pediatrician, he or she wants to know how you are feeling, too. Your emotional health is the foundation to much of your baby’s health and development, and pediatricians who know you and your family are in the position to provide support.
A recent study highlighted the importance of pediatricians in helping mothers recognize and find treatment for their own parenting stress and depression. In the study, seven focus groups of mothers from a wide range of backgrounds all had symptoms of depression or maternal stress. Among mothers with a positive, ongoing relationship with their baby’s doctor who believed their pediatrician knew them well, symptoms of depression and stress were greatly reduced.
Carrying Your Baby
Young babies that are carried around in a sling or worn in a carrier for a couple of hours every day spend less time crying than other babies.
While some babies need to cry for several hours during the day, 2 hours a day is average for 2-month-olds. Crying usually subsides to 45 minutes a day after 2 months and then spikes again at 9 months. However, there is a wide range of normal in crying, just as in other aspects of infant development. Just as some babies sleep more, others cry more. What was once called “colic” is now considered within the normal range of crying. Still, even a normal amount of crying can be stressful for parents. Seek support if you find it more than you can bear, and be sure that friends and family give you frequent breaks during your baby’s crying spells. And if your baby’s crying worries you and seems excessive, don’t hesitate to call your pediatrician to rule out any medical causes.
Vaccinating to protect our children and our future
Parents need to make sure to vaccinate your child to protect him or her from diseases. If we keep vaccinating now, parents in the future may be able to trust that diseases like polio and meningitis won’t infect, cripple, or kill children. Vaccinations are one of the best ways to put an end to the serious effects of certain diseases.
Prepare your baby’s first short well, both of you are going to be OK.