The newest member of your family is about to arrive, and you couldn’t be more excited – but in the middle of all the baby showers, congratulations and shopping, have you stopped to think about baby safety? From childproofing your home to ensuring that your baby’s crib is designed with optimal safety and comfort in mind, making sure that your precious bundle of joy will be happy and healthy is no easy task. Luckily, I’ve collected some expert advice on how to prepare for your baby’s eventual arrival; so when the big day finally arrives, worrying about baby safety will be the last thing on your mind.
First, let’s examine the facts in order to highlight the dangers that babies face in an unprotected household. According to a 2007 survey by the Home Safety Council, over 2,000 children die each year as a result of an accidental home injury – and they come from ordinary household objects that most adults overlook. For example, a grandmother in Georgia left her grandchild alone for mere seconds to answer the phone – but that was more than enough time for the child to hoist himself up by the faucet, causing the water to reach temperatures over 128 degrees.
He died just three days later.
Sad stories like this one only further highlights the need for parents to pay particular attention to baby safety, especially when it comes to ordinary household objects and furniture. So what are some of the most common dangers that babies face in and around the house, and what can you do to ensure your baby’s safety?
In the same Home Safety Council survey, injuries as a result of falls were one of the most common accidents that babies have each and every year. To prevent your baby falling down the stairs, make sure that you enforce your house with plenty of baby gates, especially when your little angel starts to learn how to walk. However, where you put the baby gates is just as important as how many you put up. Many parents make the mistake of putting baby gates at the top of the stairs – yet a baby can climb to the top of the stairs and topple over. Be sure to put gates at the bottom of the stairs in order to prevent this common injury. Additionally, make sure that your baby’s head can’t fit through the openings of the gate, and avoid using pressure baby gates, since they can easily be pushed over by an inquisitive little explorer.
Another danger to baby safety that might surprise parents is baby walkers, which are designed to help support the baby while she learns how to walk. According to researchers at the Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado, baby walkers don’t even show evidence of helping babies learn how to walk – but they certainly pose a danger to a baby’s safety, since 4,000 babies were treated for injuries last year as a result of baby walkers. These researchers recommend getting rid of the baby walkers, as your child could injure himself with these walkers even under your supervision.
Does your baby have plenty of stuffed animals and toys in the crib to keep him entertained? You might want to rethink this strategy, as an overly cluttered crib poses a significant risk to baby safety. Too many toys and stuffed animals can lead to suffocation and choking, especially if your baby still can’t roll over. Also, too many pillows and blankets can pose an equal suffocation risk, so don’t overwhelm your newborn with too many nighttime accessories. Buy an infant sleeping sack, or keep the pillow and blanket count down to one. Likewise, be sure you keep a baby monitor by the crib so you can hear when your child needs your attention.
One of the most essential elements of baby safety is to not let safeguards like baby gates and infant bathing seats lull you into a false sense of security. Many parents make the mistake of leaving their infant alone in the bathtub for just a few seconds due to the false security that an infant bathing seat provides – however, the evidence shows that even these seats won’t protect babies against drowning. Instead, forgo the bathing seat and never turn your back on your baby, even for just a second. It may seem like only a short time, but it’s enough time to put your baby at serious risk for drowning.
While it may feel like you’ll never have your house adequately baby-proofed, it’s important to remember that it’s not the baby-proofing that will keep your baby safe and sound so much as your constant vigilance and attention. Always keep your baby under your supervision during play and bath time, which will help you to ensure complete baby safety around the household.