Helping your baby to develop is one of the most important jobs you will ever have, and while no two babies ever develop in quite the same way, there is lots of information to help you understand things like why your baby may react in a certain way, or when she might be ready to sit up by herself.

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Health and Immunisations

As fragile as they may be, it is perfectly normal for babies to get ill from time to time and this is usually a common ailment that can be treated simply with the appropriate care or medication. As a result, don’t panic but do a little research into the more common conditions using the links below or call your GP or NHS Direct.

Remember for any urgent queries that involve the health of you or your baby contact your GP, NHS Direct, NHS Walk-in Centre or nearest A&E department as soon as possible.

Vaccinations can protect your child from potentially serious infections and work by injecting a very diluted version of the disease so that the body can build up its own antibodies to protect itself in the future.

Breastmilk also contains antibodies and babies who are breastfed will have passive immunity against gastro-intestinal and some respiratory illnesses.

The Department of Health offers all babies and children in the UK a schedule of routine immunisations, which will explained in your ‘red book’. The first immunisation is when they are two months old because their immunity will have already begun to decrease.

Some parents decide not to immunise their children for various reasons but it is not a decision to be taken lightly. It is important to look into the risks and benefits of vaccinations and talk to your GP so that you can make an informed decision.

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Food nutrition and eating behaviour

Everybody needs to eat a healthy, balanced diet but your baby has certain special requirements to ensure he can digest and receive the nutrients he needs. Breast feeding has been demonstrated to be the best start for most babies but as soon as they start moving on to other food, a little practical advice on what to give them and how to get them to eat it can go a long way.

You can find tips on weaning babies off breast milk or formula, a forum and recipes to help you give your baby the right nutrients. As soon as breastfeeding comes to an end then it’s time for dads to step in and do their bit to give mum a break, and they can find help on what food to prepare and how to prepare themselves for the mess on Dadinfo.

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Children’s centres and local services

Children’s Centres are there to support mum, dad and baby, with friendly, experienced and qualified staff on hand to assist you with making choices and using services.

Children’s centres are great places for families and communities that can provide information on finding local services such as childcare, early education and healthcare, as well as advice on jobs and training. Many run stay and play sessions, where trained professionals will be on hand to help you support your child’s development.

If the centre is well run, it should feel welcoming for mums, dads and other family members like grandparents – and it can be a fantastic resource that allows you to meet up with other local families. Most children’s centre services are free, although for some activities there may be a small charge.

Local activities

Look out for other local activities, such as swimming, baby massage, storytelling and arts and crafts, as well as outdoor parks and play areas. Community organisations and faith groups often run activities like parent and toddler groups. You may find this a good way to meet other parents and neighbours, and your child will enjoy meeting other babies and learning how to socialise.

Your local authority Family Information Service will be able to help you find activities for you and your family.

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Supporting your baby to learn through play

During these early years, playing with your baby is crucial to their development. Having fun and playing are actually how young children learn to think, enabling them to develop physical, social, emotional and intellectual skills through doing things and talking.

Parents can support their baby’s development by encouraging activities that give their child a chance to explore and use their imagination. These games could involve make-believe, coordination, organising things, talking, music, water or building things.

Play is an especially important way for dads to firmly establish their bond with their baby

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