Parents & Caregivers
“There is no such thing as a perfect parent….so just be a real one!”
Help Me Grow home visitors can provide caring support and reliable information on the topics customized to your needs and interest. Whether it’s how to soothe your crying baby, developing sleep routines, self-care or how to cope with the stresses of parenting, we are by your side to support. While listening to your needs and concerns, we will empower you to make your own decisions about what is best for you and your baby. We also look forward to being your personal cheerleader, in celebrating milestone successes along the way!
During your pregnancy, exciting things happen to you and your developing baby every day. More information and resources about having a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Your Child’s Development
Infants are happier and healthier when they feel safe and connected. More information on healthy social and emotional child development can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Every parent wants to protect their children from harm and to keep them safe. More information about the steps you can take to prevent the leading causes of child injury can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for most infants. It can also reduce the risk for some short- and long-term health conditions for both infants and mothers. More information can be found on the Ohio Bold Beginning website.
Infant Safe Sleep
Every week in Ohio, 3 babies die in unsafe sleep environments. These deaths don’t have to happen! Learn why it’s safest for baby to follow the ABCs of safe sleep – Alone. Back. Crib. Every baby, every sleep!
More information can be found on the Ohio Department of Health website.
Share the room, not the bed! 2 out of 3 babies who died while sleeping were sharing an adult bed, couch or chair.
Parents or caregivers should never nap on a couch or chair while holding their baby. Always make sure your child is placed in a crib or play yard with a firm mattress.
The safest place for your baby to sleep is in the room where you sleep, but not in your bed. Place the baby’s crib or bassinet near your bed (within arm’s reach). This makes it easier to breastfeed and bond with your baby.
There is no proven safe way to share the bed with your child because:
- You can accidentally roll too close to or onto baby while they sleep.
- Babies can get trapped between the mattress and the wall, headboard, footboard or other piece of furniture.
- Your baby could fall from the bed and get hurt or fall into a pile of clothing or other soft items on the floor and suffocate.
There are many myths surrounding babies sleeping on their backs; however, science has proven that back is best for baby. Some commonly asked questions regarding these myths are:
Isn’t it easier for my baby to choke on her back?
No! Babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to suffocate or choke. More information on why babies are less likely to choke while on their backs can be found on the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development website.
My baby isn’t comfortable and doesn’t sleep as well on her back.
Babies do sleep deeper on their stomachs, but it's safer for baby to wake through the night. When babies sleep deeper, they don't arouse or wake up as often. When a baby is in a deep sleep and gets into a situation where she needs to take a deep breath or arouse her airway may be blocked by a blanket or loose bedding or covered in some other way, so she will be at more risk for suffocation. Back sleeping is safest for your baby!
If I put my baby on her back, she’ll get a flat head.
For the most part, flat spots on a baby’s head go away a few months after the baby learns to sit up. There are other ways to reduce the chance that flat spots will develop on your baby’s head, such as providing "tummy time" when your baby is awake and someone is watching. "Tummy time" not only helps prevent flat spots, but it also helps a baby’s head, neck, and shoulder muscles get stronger.
How long should my baby sleep on her back?
Once your baby can roll from back to belly on their own, it's ok to leave her in the position she finds most comfortable. Remember to put your baby to sleep on her back for the first year.
Remember these ways to keep baby safest:
- Don’t cover baby's head with a blanket or over bundle in clothing and blankets.
- Avoid letting the baby get too hot. The baby could be too hot if you notice sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash, and rapid breathing.
- Dress the baby lightly for sleep. Set the room temperature between 68 to 72 degrees.
More information can be found on the National Institute of Child Health and Development website.
An empty crib is best. Many parents believe baby won’t be warm or comfortable without bumper pads, blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals, but these items can be deadly. Babies can suffocate on or be strangled by any extra item in the crib.
This is how to keep baby safe:
- Place your baby on a firm mattress, covered by a fitted sheet. Current safety standards can be found on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
- Bumper pads and sleep positioning wedges should not be placed in the crib with the baby.
- Don’t use loose bedding, such as comforters and blankets.
- Sleep clothing, such as fitted, appropriate-sized sleepers, sleep sacks, and wearable blankets are safer for baby than blankets!
- Don’t place babies to sleep on adult beds, chairs, sofas, waterbeds, air mattresses, pillows, or cushions.
- Toys and other soft bedding, including fluffy blankets, comforters, pillows and stuffed animals should not be placed in the crib with the baby. These items can suffocate baby if they are close to his face.
- Place baby's crib in your room - you can respond to his needs and then return him to his crib to sleep.
Won’t my baby hurt herself between the slats of the crib if there are no bumpers?
There have been no cases of babies who have seriously hurt themselves by getting stuck between the crib railings. Babies aren’t capable of exerting enough force to break an arm or leg between the crib slats. Consider the option of a baby waking up because her hand or foot may be caught. She will cry and wake you, but she will be alive and breathing.
More information can be found on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
Safe Sleep Facts
With all the information being thrown at new moms, it's tough to sort out fact from fiction. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations are based on science and extensive research. The full text of the AAP recommendations is available here. Follow these guidelines to keep your baby safe:
- Always place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time.
- Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
- The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).
- Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads.
- Don't use wedges and sleep positioners.
- Pregnant women should receive regular prenatal care.
- Don’t smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
- Breastfeeding is recommended.
- Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
- Avoid covering the infant’s head or overheating.
- Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.
- Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development and minimize the occurrence of positional plagiocephaly (flat heads). More information on positional plagiocephaly can be found on the American Academy of Pediatrics website.
What about swaddling?
If you choose to swaddle to swaddle your baby when you get home from the hospital, there is a safe way to swaddle! Be sure you stop swaddling your baby by two months of age. Continuing to swaddle after your baby starts to move around more places her at increased risk for suffocation. Learn how to swaddle safely by visiting the American Academy of Pediatrics website.
More Information on safe sleep can be found on the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development website.
Safe Havens for Newborns
Not all women who get pregnant are ready to raise a child. Sometimes they see no options except to abandon the baby. Safe Havens provides a new option. It allows a birth parent to leave an infant (up to 30 days old) with:
- a medical worker in a hospital;
- a medical worker at a fire department or other emergency service organization;
- a peace officer at a law enforcement agency
Who can take a newborn to a Safe Haven?
The birth parent (mother or father) can take a child to a Safe Haven. The law provides protection from prosecution only for the child 's parents.
If the infant is left with a person at one of these places, and has not been abused, the parent will face no legal consequences for making this choice.
Does the birth parent have to call before taking an infant to a Safe Haven?
No. A birth parent may take a newborn to a Safe Haven at any time until the child is 30 days old.
What information will the birth parent have to provide?
The birth parent is not required to provide any information, including his or her name. However, it would help the baby if the birth parent chose to provide basic health information. The birth parent will be offered a form to guide them in providing the most important health information.
What happens next?
If the baby needs medical attention, it will be provided. The professional staff person who accepts the baby will contact the county children services agency; and the baby will be placed in an adoptive home. There are many families who want to adopt a baby.
When a parent cannot care for an infant, leaving the baby at a Safe Haven may be the best choice for the child. If the birth parent is not sure about this decision, an adoption social worker can help by providing information on available options and services for birth parents and their babies.
Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention
Deaths and injuries from shaken baby syndrome (SBS) can be prevented by helping adults understand normal crying, practice methods to soothe crying babies and learn how to safely relieve the stress of caring for young children.
With consultation from a statewide workgroup of experts, ODH is developing a comprehensive SBS prevention plan based on a best practice model from Mark S. Dias, MD (Pediatrics, April, 2005). The plan includes educating parents, caregivers, health professionals and the community about the dangers of shaking; the normalcy of infant crying; a variety of soothing and calming techniques for both child and adult; and resources for additional help. Components of the plan will be posted to this site as they are developed.
The key element of the SBS prevention plan is the presentation of a consistent, strong message to parents by health professionals on repeated occasions: during the pregnancy, at the time of birth and during follow-up medical visits.
Additional opportunities exist for presenting the message to families participating in the Help Me Grow program or seeking child care from licensed centers or certified home providers. After the Teaching Tool is presented by a trusted health professional, parents can be guided to complete a Certificate that affirms their new knowledge and individual plan to safely respond to stressful crying.
Claire’s Law requires ODH to make SBS prevention materials available for download from its Web site. ODH does not have funds to supply these materials to order; however, anyone may download and print unlimited copies.
More information on Shaken Baby Syndrome can be located on the Ohio Department of Health website.
Understanding Intimate Partner Violence
The term “intimate partner violence” describes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression (including coercive acts) by a current or former intimate partner.
An intimate partner is a person with whom one has a close personal relationship that can be characterized by the following:
- Emotional connectedness
- Regular contact
- Ongoing physical contact and/or sexual behavior
- Identity as a couple
- Familiarity and knowledge about each other’s lives
The relationship need not involve all of these dimensions. Examples of intimate partners include current or former spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends, dating partners, or sexual partners. IPV can occur between heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.
IPV can vary in frequency and severity. It occurs on a continuum, ranging from one episode that might or might not have lasting impact to chronic and severe episodes over a period of years.
There are four main types of IPV. These include sexual violence, stalking, physical violence, and psychological aggression.
- Sexual violence: includes rape, being made to penetrate someone else, sexual coercion (non-physically pressured sex), unwanted sexual contact (such as groping), and noncontact unwanted sexual experiences (such as verbal harassment). Contact sexual violence is a combined measure that includes rape, being made to penetrate someone else, sexual coercion, and/or unwanted sexual contact.
- Stalking: victimization involves a pattern of harassing or threatening tactics used by a perpetrator that is both unwanted and causes fear or safety concerns in the victim.
- Physical violence includes a range of behaviors from slapping, pushing or shoving to severe acts that include hit with a fist or something hard, kicked, hurt by pulling hair, slammed against something, tried to hurt by choking or suffocating, beaten, burned on purpose, used a knife or gun.
- Psychological Aggression: includes expressive aggression (such as name calling, insulting or humiliating an intimate partner) and coercive control, which includes behaviors that are intended to monitor and control or threaten an intimate partner.
The use of a standard case definition is one key factor needed to ensure that information is collected in a systematic fashion. A high quality case definition improves the comparability of the health-related event reported from different sources of data, such as comparisons among geographic areas, or the ability to compare data over time. Further, a consistent definition is critical in monitoring trends over time.
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. Diabetes means that blood sugar, also called blood glucose, is too high. Blood sugar levels that stay too high during pregnancy can cause problems for mom and baby. Women with GDM can take steps to keep blood sugar at healthy levels for her and her baby.
For some women, high blood sugar levels may not go away after a pregnancy with GDM. The only way to know if your blood sugar levels have returned to normal is to get tested for type 2 diabetes before your baby is 12 weeks old. It is very important to get tested because half of women with GDM will get type 2 diabetes in the next 5 to 10 years.
More information can be found on the Ohio Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Learning Collaborative website.
A Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Family Toolkit can be found on the Ohio Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Learning Collaborative website.