Your Baby's Health
Your Baby's Health
You’re home with your new baby, enjoying getting to know each other. Of course making sure your baby stays healthy is important, but where do you start? There are several things to consider: making sure you have health insurance for you and your baby, finding the right doctor for your baby, getting your baby immunized, and starting to take care of your baby’s teeth—even before there are any! Here are some tips to get you started on the right track.
How Do I Get Health Insurance for My Baby?
If mom had pregnancy medical insurance through the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), then your baby will have medical care covered through their first birthday. Otherwise, there are free or low-cost insurance programs through Washington State that you and your baby may qualify for like Apple Health For Kids. Learn more and find out if you're eligible. You can apply online here or call (800) 322-2588 with any questions.
How Do I Find a Health Care Provider for My Baby?
Choosing a health care provider for your baby isn’t something you want to have to rush to do right after your baby is born. Start looking while you are pregnant, several months before your due date. Your choice of health care providers will depend on if you have insurance and what it covers, what type of providers are available in your community, and what kind of care you need. Finding someone you like and trust may take some time, but it will be really worth it in the end! Just like with your primary care provider, you can pick between various kinds of health care providers for your baby.
When Should I Call for Help?
It can be hard to understand your baby, even when they become a toddler. How do you know when your baby is just fussy and when they need to see a doctor? Remember, you know your child best, and if you think they need medical attention, you should call for help!
Call your health care provider immediately if your baby or toddler:
• Has bloody vomit or poop
• Has trouble breathing, very fast breathing, or blue lips or fingernails
• Has a seizure (When someone has a seizure, their body moves repetitively. Sometimes the person having a seizure stops breathing.)
• Has eaten or drunk nonfoods (such as detergents, soaps, bleach, or rodent control products) that can cause harm such as vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing, etc.
• Is hard to wake up or seems unusually tired
• Has a rectal temperature above 100.4 degrees (Fahrenheit) or below 97.8 degrees (Fahrenheit)
• Has yellowish skin or eyes
• Is injured and won't stop bleeding
• Has a head injury
Childhood immunizations are important! Immunizations (also called vaccines) will strengthen your baby’s immune system and help your baby fight certain serious diseases. Vaccines are safe and effective. The decision to immunize your child is an important one. A baby’s immune system is like an eggshell: strong and fragile. It is strong because it can handle many immunizations at the same time. It is fragile because if a vaccine-preventable disease infects your baby, serious complications can occur. Know the facts about vaccines.
Ask! It’s okay to have questions! Ask your doctor or nurse about recommended immunizations.
How Do I Care for My Baby’s Gums and Teeth?
Beginning at birth, wipe your baby’s gums daily with a clean, damp cloth. Start using a toothbrush as soon as you see your baby’s first tooth, using a rice-sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride. Use a small soft toothbrush or clean damp cloth at least twice a day and always at bedtime.
Check your baby’s teeth often yourself. Lift your baby’s lip out of the way and look for white or brown spots on the teeth or changes in the gums. Talk with your baby’s doctor or dentist if you notice any problems. If you give a bottle at bedtime or naps, fill it with water. Juice and other liquids can pool in your baby’s mouth during sleep and cause cavities. Use a training (sippy) cup with water only (no milk, formula, or juice) except at meals. Schedule your baby’s first dentist visit by your baby’s first birthday. Early dental care will help prevent dental disease.
How Can I Find Dental Insurance for My Baby?
Dental care is included in Apple Health for Kids, one of the Washington State health insurance programs for children. If your child is eligible for Apple Health and is between 0 and 6 years old, then they can also be enrolled in Washington’s Access to Baby and Child Dentistry Program (ABCD) program. This program links eligible children with a dentist who has special training in working with young children, and helps parents learn what they can do at home to care for their child’s teeth. Find out if ABCD is in your community.
To find a children's dental clinic that accepts Apple Health or offers a sliding fee for uninsured children, visit our Resource Finder.
During the first year, your baby will have regular well-baby visits. Learn what to expect.
Read more about when to call your baby’s health care provider.
Your child will have a lot of checkups in the beginning. Read about what to expect at
It’s up to you to take charge of your child’s health. So how do you talk to your