Your child’s safety is perhaps, the biggest concern on your mind even before the little one enters the world and lets their first cry out!
Babies are undoubtedly are so sensitive and prone to injuries, sickness and other hazards. This calls for keeping a close eye on each and every activity of your newborn, while also being well-aware of all the necessary safety precautions that you must take.
Hundreds of children younger than the age of one year suffer from some kind of accident that could be prevented with a little care.
Here’s a thorough guide that takes you through everything you need to know about protecting your baby from common hazards and accidents.
Newborn Safety from Falls
As stated in the hospital records, about 8000 children are hospitalized due to accidental falls every single day in the United States.
The very basic movements of newborns, including wiggling, moving and pushing against stuff with their feet can result in accidental falls. When your child is able to roll over, they may also fall off of things if not protected.
Make sure your baby is never left alone on the sofa, the bed, the changing tables, or chairs.
At times when you can’t hold them, it’s best to put them in a crib or playpen. Also, secure your baby with a 5-point harness in a highchair or pram whenever you’re putting them in. Avoid the chances of your baby falling by keeping baby car seats, a carrier or bouncing cradles on the floor and not on a table or the kitchen counter to avoid the baby from wriggling and tipping over the edge.
Keep the stairs free of toys, while carefully watching your feet whenever you carry your baby with you.
Within the first six months, your little one will start crawling and try to climb onto things. It’s time to use safety gates on stairways and close doors so that the baby can’t enter the rooms where they might get hurt.
Installing operable window guards on the windows of the house above the first floor will keep the little ones safe. Also, cover the gaps between balcony railings or banisters using boards or nets if they are wider than 2.5 inches.
Apart from keeping low furniture items away from windows, fir safety catches and locks in windows to restrict all openings to less than 6.5 cm. This will prevent the baby from climbing out. For the same reason, you must also remove cot bumpers and cot toys to make sure the baby doesn’t fall out of the cot.
We are aware that walkers have always been used for little ones. However, in the year 1994, the Consumer Products Safety Commission stated that baby walkers were the most major cause of child injuries than any other children’s product. The injuries include broken bones, burns, teeth injuries, head injuries, fingers getting trapped, amputations and in worst cases, death.
The commission advises not to use baby walkers as your child is at the risk of tipping the walker over, falling out of it and injure their head.
Baby walkers also put little ones to major risks by helping them get to spots where they can touch hazardous or hot things. They may even pull heavy objects that may end up falling on the child and hurting them.
If under any circumstance, your child falls and doesn’t seem to act comfortable after the same, make sure you immediately call the doctor.
Baby Sleep and Crib Safety
The American Academy of Pediatrics started the “Back to Sleep” campaign to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It refers to an unexplained and sudden death of a child who’s less than one year of age.
The campaign recommends that making babies sleep on their back minimizes the risk to great extents.
Also, it advises to go for a safety-approved firm mattress for placing the baby, instead of any soft pillows or mattresses. Also, don’t place any toys, baby blankets, loose bedding, or pillows around your baby inside the crib.
The chief risk of SIDS is around 2-4 months as babies can’t roll from back to belly. Once a baby learns how to roll from their back to stomach, or vice-versa, your little one has already started minimizing the risk of sleeping hazards.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has been putting great attention to crib safety since 2011. According to them, you must go for cribs that come with crib slats 2 3/8 inches apart or less. This makes sure the baby’s head doesn’t get trapped between them, while the corner posts must be flush with the end panels.
Dressing the baby in clothes that don’t overheat as well as keeping the room’s temperature moderate is just perfect, while sharing a room with your newborn is highly advised.
Make sure you don’t nurse on a sofa or in a chair if you might fall asleep. Also, pick up and lay your baby on a flat surface if they fall asleep in a carrier, swing or a car seat.
Newborn Car Safety
In the United States, car accidents are the top cause of child death for ages 4 to 12, while being the second highest cause of death among kids from the age 1 to 4.
Studies performed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggest that a proper installation of the right car seat for your baby can hugely decrease the risk of injury. In fact, they state that 59 percent of child car safety seats are not installed correctly. [source]
Instead of simply going for an expensive car safety seat, make sure you select one that’s federally approved for car safety.
It’s essential to read and follow all the steps and instructions provided with the car safety seat, while also abiding by the owners’ manual of your car on the correct installation of a child safety seat.
Also, make sure you make use of the car safety seat whenever your baby travels in the vehicle. This won’t only keep them much safer while on board, but will also allow you to pay more attention to the driving.
When taking your newborn child on their first ride itself from the hospital to home, put them in a car safety seat. Never ride with your baby in your lap even for the shortest of trips.
Another factor that plays a key role in child car safety is the placement of their seat.
For the initial 2 years, the baby should face the back of the vehicle. Make sure the infant always rides in the back seat in a rear-facing car seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics finds the middle of the back seat as the safest spot to place the kid’s safety seat.
Never put your baby in the front seat! If you own a truck that doesn’t feature a backseat, switch off the vehicle’s airbags when riding with your baby.
Lastly, never leave your baby in the car even if you are running in the store for just one little thing.
Smoking and Fire Safety
Make sure you or anyone else doesn’t smoke around your baby. Stuff like clothing, hair and skin carry smoke particles which makes even outdoor smoking harmful for the baby.
To keep your baby protected from house fires, install an efficient smoke alarm on every level of your home, including sleeping areas and furnace. Go for long-life batteries in the smoke alarms and test the alarms once a month. Equip every level of the house with at least one fire extinguisher, installing a carbon monoxide detector in the house if the place uses gas heat.
Safety from Burns
According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, nearly three-fourth of all scalding burns in kids are preventable with just a little care. Kids start waving their fists and grabbing at things at 3-5 months, so make sure you don’t carry the child and any kind of hot liquids or foods together to prevent the little one from getting burned. [Source]
To avoid tap water scalds, adjust your water heater and keep the hottest temperature at the faucet no more than 120 degree F.
If under any unfortunate circumstances, the baby gets burned, put the affected spot in cold water immediately for at least a few minutes to cool the skin off. Further, cover the affected area loosely with a clean cloth or a dry bandage before calling a doctor.
Pets and Newborn Safety
Pets go along with infants very well, but following some precautions is essential. Never leave a newborn baby alone with the pet, even if they never seem to bother him or her. Check for any signs of jealousy shown by your dog or cat.
It’s good to keep the nails of your pets trimmed to avoid them from scratching the baby if they get startled by the child.
Training your pet or enrolling them in obedience classes can work wonders for the same.
Lastly, keep your baby’s toys away from the pet’s toys in order to avoid any conflict.
Baby Bathing Safety and Prevention from Drowning
According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, you can prevent any injuries to your baby at the time of bathing by taking a few simple precautions. Always check that the water is not too hot, turning down the hot water heater to 120 F as it’s the ideal temperature specified by the organization.
Hair dryers, radios and other small appliances must be stored away from the bathing areas and the water, while keeping them unplugged when not in use.
It takes just a few seconds and a water level as little as 5 cm for a newborn to drown. So, never leave your child alone in the tub or bath ring. Even a bath seat is not a sure-shot safety device, so you need to stay with the baby all the time. Once you take your baby out, empty the bath immediately.
Baby Feeding Safety
A safe baby feeding is perhaps, the most significant aspect of day-to-day newborn safety. Make sure you never microwave baby’s milk bottle to prevent their mouth from burning. Microwaves lead to uneven heating, resulting in hot spots in the formula that can burn the baby’s mouth.
The best way to warm the formula is to submerge the bottle in warm water or run warm tap water over it. Once you shake the milk bottle, test the temperature of the contents on your palm or wrist before feeding it to your little one.
Also, make sure you don’t prop up the bottle and leave your child alone to avoid choking. Don’t put them to bed with a bottle. Avoid giving the baby raw carrots, nuts, unpeeled apples, hard candies, and other food items that can lead to choking.
If you feed them in a highchair, use restraining straps running around the baby’s waist and between their to prevent them from sliding out.
Newborn Safety from Choking
Baby feeding safety is closely related to preventing the risk of choking in your little ones as studies reveal that food is the most common item for babies to choke on.
That’s why it’s essential to never feed them hard or large pieces of apples, nuts, popcorn, carrots, grapes, raw jelly, and more. Always cut them into thin pieces once your baby starts having solid food.
According to New York State’s legislation on preventing choking incidents in kids, choking is the 4th strongest cause of death in children under 5.
Babies are likely to put anything they come across into their mouths. Household stuff, toys and food can all be hazardous.
Keep small objects, including buttons, coins, and toy parts away from your baby’s reach. All tiny silver button batteries must be kept away from the child as they are a choking hazard and can lead to internal burns if accidentally swallowed.
If you have other kids, keep toys made for older children away from the newborn, as they may feature some small parts. Also, make sure your baby’s toys don’t come apart, don’t have sharp parts, as well as do not have bits that could be broken off or chewed. The pieces must be larger than your child’s mouth.
Newborn Safety from Suffocation
To prevent suffocation, always put your baby to sleep on their back.
As mentioned above, your baby’s crib or bassinet shouldn’t be accompanied with any pillows, bumpers, loose bedding or stuffed toys. Babies under the age of 1 can suffocate themselves if their face gets smothered in a pillow or duvets.
Tuck the blanket in across your baby’s chest and under the arms. Also make sure you never put your child on any surface that’s soft enough to cover their face or block the passage of air to their mouth or nose. This also includes water beds, or bean bags.
If you use a sling to carry your child, following the TICKS advice will eliminate the chances of suffocation. It stands for keeping your baby T – tight, I – in view, C – close enough to kiss, K – keep the baby’s chin off their chest, with a proper S – supported back.
Lastly, keep all plastic bags or wrappers away from the baby as they can lead to suffocation if placed over their nose or mouth.
Safety Against Strangulation
Any kind of strings or buttons on your baby’s clothes must not impose a danger of choking the baby.
Also, make sure you don’t leave any cords, ropes or strings lying around around their neck or near the crib.
To prevent accidental strangulation, secure cords on drapes and blinds with a cleat hook to keep them out of your baby’s reach.
Do not tie any dummies to their clothes, as the ribbon or tie could lead to strangling.
It is advised to keep your baby’s toys and outdoor play items away from washing lines to prevent the child from standing on them and reaching the line. Also, don’t use cot bumpers in your baby’s cot as they are a hazardous for strangulation.
Never allow your newborn or toddler to hold any stuff made of glass as it can cause serious cuts.
Always dispose off any bits of broken glass safely and quickly by wrapping it in paper before you throw it in the dustbin.
For doors and windows at a low level, use safety glass as it is less likely to shatter than regular glass. If possible, make existing glass around the house safer by adding a shatter-proof film.
Safety from Poisoning
It’s surprising that over 70% of hospital admissions for poisoning under the age of 5 are caused by medicines. It’s a must to keep all medicines out of your child’s reach. [Source]
Keep all liquid laundry capsules and toilet cleaning products high up out of reach or fit safety catches to low-height cupboard doors. Also, prefer cleaning products with a bittering agent as children are themselves likely to stay away from them due to their fragrance.
Another highly hazardous source of poisoning in young babies is nicotine. Make sure you keep e-cigarettes and their refills out of reach and sight of your baby.
Inspect your yard for any poisonous plants and make sure your baby doesn’t eat anything in the garden by staying around them at all times.
Apart from fall safety, your baby needs a little extra care when they enter the crawling stage. Equip all electrical outlets with covers, further securing wires to baseboards. Also, keep your baby away from lawn movers, overhead garage doors and other moving machinery.
If your house has a swimming pool, make sure it has got a fence and a gate that can be locked.
It’s as essential to keep your baby safe from the sun as it’s from water. Cover the child with a cap and clothes, while also limiting their time in the sun. In case, you find any signs of dehydration or sunburn or redness, get them out of the sun immediately.
All the cabinets around the house must have safety locks, while unsteady furniture, such as bookshelves must be anchored down. Cover the hard or sharp furniture corners and edges with some kind of cushioning.
While you are cooking, make sure the area ahead of the stove is off limits for your baby. Also, turn the handles of the pots and pans on the stove in, while using the back burners when possible.
Lastly, make sure the toilet lid stays down so it doesn’t slam on your baby’s hands or head, as well as keeps them safe from drowning.
A Few Other Newborn Safety Precautions
- The neck muscles of a newborn baby are weak for the initial few months. So make sure to hold their head for support when holding your newborn in your hands.
- Make sure you keep sharp objects, including knives, razors, scissors out of your baby’s reach.
- Don’t ever shake a newborn or throw them in the air as this can cause blindness or brain damage.
- Remove tablecloths that are at a risk of being pulled off.
- Make sure all the drawers feature stops, so the child can’t pull them out and get hurt.
- Get your newborn all the recommended vaccines protecting against SIDS.
- Attach furniture to the wall so the pieces don’t fall over the child.
- All the equipment that you purchase, including cribs, carriers, bassinets, toys, change tables, or playpens must meet the national safety standards.
- Keep emergency numbers, including your baby’s pediatrician, your family doctor, nurse-on-call, the police, 911 reminder, the fire department and poison control by the phone.
The above guide tries to help you gain a deeper insight into everything around the house and your surroundings that can turn out to be dangerous for your newborn, while also sharing all that can be done to prevent the same.
The fact that parents are not well aware of what puts their child at risk often turns out to be the cause of most accidents.
In fact, the United States witnesses about 40000 children being hospitalized every year, wherein the accidents were preventable!
All it takes is a little extra care and some precautions, ensuring your baby’s beautiful smile forever!