Baby Safety Month is celebrated every year in September, but as all parents know, it’s a year-round concern and responsibility. Having a newborn baby can be difficult for a multitude of reasons, but even more so for first time parents. Babies are vulnerable and their safety must be taken seriously in all situations. Babies are especially vulnerable when they are asleep and in the car, but accidents can occur anywhere, especially in the home. In this week’s Health Journal, we’re going to discuss some of the basics of baby safety and how to keep them safe everywhere they go.
As with many things in life, taking care of the basics is very important as it lays the foundation for the rest to follow. When it comes to the basics of baby safety, some of the bullet points listed below might seem obvious or easy to complete but they are vitally important to ensure your child’s health and safety. Now, as always, this isn’t a finite list of everything that should be done. Please discuss any questions or concerns with your child’s doctor.
- Baby proof your home: The best time to start this process is early on in the pregnancy to prevent any last minute mistakes or avoid running out of time. As adults it can be difficult to know exactly what you need to change and secure, but one of the best ways to get started is to put yourself in the mind of a baby. To start, it is recommended you get down on your hands and knees since being on the baby’s level can help you see things from their perspectives and see things you might miss from a higher level. It is also recommended that both mom and dad contribute to this activity since more eyes and differing viewpoints are likely to find more hazards.
- Watch for obvious hazards: It’s important to take care of things like exposed electrical sockets or blind cords, but it can be the not-so-obvious hazards we can overlook. It’s vital to be on the lookout for items like open dishwashers, hanging tablecloths, poisonous plants or anything that can easily be pulled down.
- Curiosity: Babies at any age are curious and have a tendency to want to touch, feel, lick, smell and listen to anything and everything they can get their hands on. Since the baby will be a long-term guest in the home, it helps to make each room safe for the child to explore and play in.
- Child-proofing is on-going process: As your child grows, monitor their development and always try to stay one step ahead. For example, before your child starts to crawl you should install your stairway gates so the family and child have time to get used to them in advance. Also, waiting for your child to crawl and then putting up the gates may make your child associate his newfound milestone with new barriers.
- Beware of the trap: If you are preparing for baby #2 or baby #3, don’t underestimate your “seasoned” approach to baby-proofing from the first time around. Having an older sibling can increase the hazards for your newest baby with potential toys being left on the floor or doors and toilet lids being left open.
- Register your products: Products that you have to purchase can be registered through product registration, which helps provide a direct line of communication with the manufacturer should there be any potential issues or recalls.
Creating a safe sleep environment for your child and sticking to it is one of the best things you can do to ensure those first few years are happy and healthy. Unfortunately, hundreds of deaths occur each year when children are placed in unsafe sleep environments and end up suffocating or being smothered. However, with some safe and careful planning, naptime and nighttime can be a pleasant and safe experience for both parents and child. For a visual example, please visit the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtuHgoPGCmI.
- The Crib: For a baby, the safest place for them to sleep is in a bare and properly assembled crib. It is only recommended that the child sleeps on their back unless advised by a pediatrician and the crib only contains a properly fitted mattress pad and fitted sheet. It is advised to never use pillows, quilts, comforters or stuffed toys in the crib for any child under the age of 1 year.
- Clothing: It’s crucial to not overdress your baby. Any excess or loose clothing can become a hazard when they are asleep and it’s advised that a wearable blanket or sleep clothing be worn as an alternative to any covering.
- Never share a bed: It’s so important we had to say it twice; never share a bed. If your child is under the age of 1 year, it is vital that they do not sleep in the same bed as their parents. Instead, it is recommended to room share versus bed share for at least the first year.
- Baby Monitors: If you are using a baby monitor with a cord, make sure they are out of the reach of the child, with 3-feet away being the recommendation. Never place an item in or near the crib that contains cords or wiring as the child can become entangled in it and accidentally choke or suffocate. This is also why cribs should not be placed near windows or blinds that also contain cords or wires.
- Climbing out: When the child is able to stand or pull himself up, set the mattress to the lowest setting and remove all items the child may be able to use as steps. When your child begins to climb out or reaches a height of 35 in, it is time to upgrade to a toddler bed.
As we know, our local roads and highways can be unpredictable or full of hazards, so we all understand the importance of vehicle safety especially with precious babies on board. Below are a few tips and tricks to keep your baby’s time in the car as safe as possible.
- First, car seats should always be used no matter where or how far you are going as data has shown that 77 percent of car accidents occur within 15 miles of one’s home. Second, children should ride rear-facing until they reach the maximum weight or height allowed by your specific car seats instructions. Third, children who exceed rear-facing limits should ride in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and once they grow out of that, children should be moved to a booster seat.
- Back seat: This one is simple and quick, the back seat is the safest place for children under 13 to ride.
- Don’t Use: It is recommended not to use any car or booster seat that is second hand, especially if it is beyond its expiration date. Yes, car seats expire! Don’t use a car seat that has been involved in a crash or is missing the manufacturer’s label.
- Register your car seat: This is an important step as it is with many baby products that you purchase. Registering your car seat will allow you to be notified in case of a recall, which happens more often than you think.
- To never leave your child alone in the vehicle, even if it’s for a short time.
- To keep car doors and trunks locked with the child proof on and key fobs out of reach.
- To create reminders like using a stuffed animal that you place in the back seat when your child is not with you and in the front seat when they are. This will act as a visual reminder and help prevent the often deadly mistake of leaving a child in the car.