Infant Life Stages

An infant grows and develops so quickly during the first year. Find relevant information that has been tailored for you to the life-stage of your child.

Milestones

As you watch your baby grow, it will probably seem as if he/she is changing almost every day! While all babies grow at different rates, you will likely see lots of new skills and milestones. By the end of the sixth month, your baby will probably be:

  • Sitting up with support or by him/herself, and rolling over both ways.
  • Reaching for things and trying to put everything in his/her mouth.
  • Baby teeth may be starting to "erupt," or come in.
  • Bear weight on legs when you hold him/her up.
  • Forming sounds, like ba, da or ma; babbling, laughing, squealing or trying to imitate you.
  • Turning toward you when you enter a room, even before you speak; following you across the room with his/her eyes, and smiling at you before you smile at him/her.
  • Teething. Eruption of new teeth often starts during these months. The two front teeth (central incisors), either upper or lower, usually appear first.
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Pediatric Checkups

You will probably take your baby for a well-baby checkup at four and six months of age. Here is what you might expect your baby's healthcare provider to do:

Well Baby Visit: 4 Months

  • Weigh and measure your baby.
  • Measure your baby's head.
  • Give your baby his/her second round of immunizations.
  • Answer any questions you may have about child care and transitions in care.
  • Give you some insight into your baby's development, temperament, behaviour and sleep habits.
  • Advise you on managing minor health issues like fevers.

Well Baby Visit: 6 Months

  • Weigh and measure your baby.
  • Give your baby the next round of immunizations. This round of immunizations may result in a slight fever and soreness; ask about correct dosage of infant acetaminophen.
  • Discuss your baby's development, temperament, behaviour and sleep patterns.
  • Help you teach your baby to form a good sleep pattern.
  • Review safety, such as baby proofing your home.

In addition, be sure to tell your baby's healthcare provider if anyone at home has had a contagious disease that your baby could have been exposed to.

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Vaccinations

It's important to continue to protect your child's health by making sure he or she gets timely immunizations. Immunizations enable the body to produce antibodies that, in turn, prevent your child from getting — and spreading — specific diseases.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, vaccines are among the safest tools of modern medicine and the Agency urges people of all ages to receive those immunizations that are recommended for their age and health status. Vaccines have saved the lives of more babies and children than any other medical intervention in the past 50 years.

One of the most important things for parents to do is to make sure their children are immunized against 13 serious vaccine-preventable diseases, as their age requires:

  • Diphtheriacan cause serious breathing problems for your child. Diphtheria can damage your child's heart and nervous system and cause paralysis.
  • Tetanus is a disease that most people think of if they step on a rusty nail. Tetanus is also found in dirt, manure and human stool. If tetanus gets into your baby's open cut, it can cause muscle spasms, convulsions and death.
  • Pertussis (Whooping Cough) can turn into severe coughing ("whooping" sound), choking and vomiting. It can last for weeks or months, and may even cause death. It is most dangerous when your baby is under six months old.
  • Polio attacks your child's nervous system and can paralyze muscles or even cause death.
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) can cause meningitis — an infection of the lining around your child's spinal cord and brain. It can also cause pneumonia, swelling in the back of the throat, deafness and death.
  • Measles can cause a rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes that could last from 1–2 weeks. Measles can also cause pneumonia, convulsions, deafness, brain damage and death.
  • Mumps can cause a fever, headache, and swollen, painful cheeks and neck. It could make your child deaf and cause meningitis. In rare cases, mumps can affect future ability to have children.
  • Rubella (German measles) causes a fever and a rash, which usually lasts for less than a week. It is very serious for unbornbabies. If a pregnant woman who has no protection against rubella comes in contact with this disease early in her pregnancy, she could have a miscarriage. After exposure to rubella, the baby could be born deaf, blind, or with heart or brain damage.Before you become pregnant, ask your doctor if you need a rubella shot.
  • Varicella (Chickenpox)causes a low fever and an itchy rash of blisters that form scabs. In some children, chickenpox causes severe skin infections (like flesh-eating disease), scars, pneumonia, brain damage or death.
  • Hepatitis B affects the liver and can sometimes cause liver cancer or other serious liver problems for your child.
  • Pneumococcal disease can cause pneumococcal meningitis, pneumonia, ear and blood infections. It could make your child deaf or cause brain damage.
  • Meningococcal disease can cause meningitis — an infection of the lining around your child's spinal cord and brain — or a blood infection. Children can die from meningitis.
  • Influenza (the flu)is a common respiratory infection that begins in your child's nose and throat. Influenza can be serious — especially for infants and young children. If your child has influenza complications, she may have difficulty breathing or might develop pneumonia.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) provides the Public Health Agency of Canada with ongoing medical, scientific, and public health advice regarding vaccines approved for use in humans in Canada and recommendations for immunization.

However,publicly-funded immunization schedules vary from province or territory. You are encouraged to talk to your child’s paediatrician, family physician, public health nurse or local health unit about recommended immunizations in your province or territory.

For access to the most current childhood immunization schedules by province and territory for children under 6 years of age, visit the “Your immunization schedule�? page of the Public Health Agency of Canada website at:

www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

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Well-Being And Safety

Now that your baby is grasping at everything within reach and approaching the crawling stage, it's important to practice ongoing baby-proofing throughout your home, along with continuing general safety habits.

  • Handwashing: Continue to practice diligent handwashing before touching your baby.
  • Germ Protection on Surfaces: Disinfect those areas where there can be a large number of germs. If your baby will come in contact with the surface, rinse it well with clean water.
  • Cribs: Remove mobiles and activity gyms by 5 months of age. These are strangulation hazards for children who can get onto their hands and knees.
  • Electrical hazards: Relocate any appliances with cords that your baby could grab, including small appliances like hair dryers and phone chargers. Cover all exposed outlets with safety caps.
  • Bathing and changing: Set your hot-water heater at 120°F /49°C or lower to avoid accidental scalding, and fill the tub with only 2 to 3 inches for infants up to six months old.
  • If you think your baby has ingested, been exposed to a poisonous substance, or if your baby is unconscious or not breathing, call 911..
  • Feeding: The Canadian Paediatrics Society suggests that at 6 months, most babies cannot get everything they need from breast milk or formula alone. Though you can continue to breastfeed until your baby is 2 years and beyond, at 6 months you’ll start to introduce your baby to other foods. Spoon the food into a small bowl; putting it in a bottle is a choking hazard. Do not feed your baby directly from the jar, as this can introduce bacteria into the food.
  • Oral Care: Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle that contains anything but water (or let your baby fall asleep while breastfeeding). This can lead to a painful disease that causes decay in teeth that haven't come in yet. The Canadian Dental Association ( www.cda-adc.ca ) advises that you take your baby for his/her first dental checkup within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age.
  • Cleaning Products: Store cleaning products in a locked closet or cabinet. Leave them in their original containers and never remove product labels, as first aid instructions can vary.
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Common Conditions

Does Your Baby Have a Cold? Call a Healthcare Provider if your baby...

  • Isn't having as many wet diapers as usual.
  • Has a temperature higher than 102°F / 39°C for 1 day, or higher than 101°F / 38°C for more than 3 days.
  • Seems to have ear pain, or has red eyes or develops yellow eye discharge.
  • Has a cough for more than one week, or has green nasal discharge for more than two weeks.
  • Is showing other symptoms that you are concerned about.

Learn about Common Childhood Illnesses and Cold & Flu..

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