Keeping your little one safe: Baby Safety Month
Babies are beautiful and sweet and lovable and wonderful… but unfortunately, they’re also accident-prone. If you’ve ever had one, you know. The most innocuous object in your house — a tablecloth, drawer, or rocking chair — eventually screams “DANGER!” In spite of countless new safety standards for baby gear, more than 1.3 million American infants are brought to emergency rooms every year. That’s why we’re taking the occasion of Baby Safety Month to help you know the risks and learn ways to keep baby safe and hopefully calm your nerves.
As you might expect with little ones just learning to roll over, climb and walk, falls are the biggest danger for babies, accounting for more than half of all infant injuries in the US. Baby cribs, beds, and stairs are the main culprits. To help prevent these injuries:
- Install window guards and a stop that prevents windows from opening more than four inches
- Install a baby gate at the top and bottom of stairs
- Never leave a baby unattended on furniture, a balcony, porch, bed or crib (unless the safety rail is up)
- Use preinstalled safety straps on your changing table and highchair
- Install safety rails on toddler beds
- Use a bathmat in tubs
- Avoid baby walkers (the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against them)
- Use a nightlight in the bathroom, hallways, and child’s bedroom
Safe Sleep for Babies
For many years, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, has been a well-known risk for babies, especially preemies and babies with low birth weight. Fortunately, awareness of the key way to help to prevent this tragedy — putting infants to sleep on their backs — has also become fairly common knowledge. But there are other things you can do to ensure safe sleeping for infants:
- Use a firm mattress and keep it as spare as possible — avoid things like quilts, stuffed animals, fluffy padding, or pillows
- Keep your baby warm, but not overheated — try a sleep sack or clothing that doesn’t require additional covers
- Don’t trust monitors or other devices that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS — the American Academy of Pediatrics says they’re ineffective
- Breastfeed for at least six months — this has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS
- Use a pacifier without a strap or string at naptime and bedtime — if baby is not interested, there’s no reason to force it
Know the Proper Use of Car Seats
Car seats are designed to strict government safety standards. But those standards only help if you use the seat the proper way at the proper time. According to our partners at the Mayo Clinic, there are nine common mistakes parents make with child safety seats. By following the instructions on yours, you can avoid all nine:
- Placing a seat in the wrong spot
- Incorrect installation and baby buckling
- Reclining your child at the incorrect angle
- Going forward-facing too soon
- Not removing baby’s heavy outerwear
- Getting a booster seat too soon
- Using a booster seat, the wrong way
And remember: It’s vital to register your car seat. If there’s a recall, you need to know. And the only way the manufacturer can make you aware is to know how to get in touch. Also, remember that car seats expire! So if you buy a used car seat, make sure you check the label and instructions to know the expiration date. If the seat doesn’t come with that label or instructions, don’t take the risk.
Beware Furniture Tip-Overs
Babies and toddlers are naturally curious. And as they become more mobile, they’re prone to pulling themselves up using whatever’s within reach. Every day, 10 young children visit an emergency room due to furniture toppling over. Even before baby arrives, be sure to secure all TV stands, dressers, bookshelves, and other furniture to the wall with wall anchors. They’re available at virtually any hardware store and easy to secure into a wall stud. And be sure to keep tempting objects that a little one may reach for out of sight.
Of course, there’s no way to prevent every mishap. Fortunately, St. Clair Hospital is right nearby. Our pediatric unit is staffed 24 hours with a pediatrician and committed to family-centered care. To learn more, call 412.942.5900.
Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association: https://www.jpma.org/page/bsm_safety_tips#thebasics