This section contains information on basic baby safety. Some of this information will likely be familiar to experienced parents, but other best-practice guidelines (especially those towards the end of this list) may be new or unfamiliar. Either way, it never hurts to refresh your memory or critique your caretaking to see how well you adhere to these safety practices. Scroll through this list and make sure you’re up to date and familiar with these basic baby safety guidelines:
Baby safety tip #1: Use a cordless phone in your home and carry it around with you wherever you go, so that you never have to leave your baby’s side, even for a second.
Baby safety tip #2: Always keep a hand on the child when changing a baby. They can roll over and fall in the time it takes you to reach for something.
Baby safety tip #3: Always strap children into high chairs or strollers. Also use the straps for swings and changing tables. These safety devices were added for a reason.
Baby safety tip #4: If you need to answer the door, take your baby with you.
Baby safety tip #5: Always check the heat of bottle fluid on your arm before serving it to your child. Babies are still very sensitive. Serving a baby a bottle that is too hot can burn their throat, causing it to swell and cut off their airway. Avoid heating bottles in a microwave – use a bottle warmer instead.
Baby safety tip #6: Beware of soft surfaces. Do not leave a baby unattended on top of soft surfaces such as sofas, soft cushions, water beds, or quilts. They can suffocate on these surfaces if they either roll into the cushion or have their face wedged between the soft surfaces.
Baby safety tip #7: Try to keep your baby’s room or play area a safe zone. Keep things out of it that could fall unnoticed and become a choking hazard, such as loose change, candy, adult food, etc. Inspect the floors of your house constantly for fallen items that could be a choking hazard. Vacuum regularly.
Baby safety tip #8: Inspect all buttons on the clothing of baby or other family members to ensure they are properly attached and won’t dislodge and become a choking hazard.
Baby safety tip #9: Keep the baby’s toys, pacifiers, and room free of any strings that could become entangled around the baby’s limbs or neck. This includes strings on pull toys. Also keep an eye on rogue threads from clothing. Babies have lost fingers or toes after getting them wrapped around a piece of thread that cuts off their circulation. Turn all onesies, socks, and mittens inside out to wash, and then check them afterwards for any unraveling strings that could wrap around a baby’s finger or toe before turning them right side out again. Looping threads are especially problematic.
Baby safety tip #10: Make sure no electrical cords are available for babies or toddlers to chew on. Keep them tucked behind furniture and out of reach. Make sure a baby can’t pull a cord and have something tip over onto them.
Baby safety tip #11: The danger of infant slings
Infant slings have become a popular device among new parents, as they provide a convenient, hands-free way to tote baby around. But infants can also suffocate in the soft fabric slings. In March of 2010, more than 1 million baby slings made by Infantino were recalled after being linked to at least 3 infant deaths. It’s recommended that you never use baby slings with infants younger than 4 months for this reason. If you choose to ignore this advice, make sure you check regularly to ensure your infant’s face is clear of the cloth.
Baby safety tip #12: Avoid sleep positioners
The FDA in concert with the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning to parents in late 2010, advising them to stop using sleep positioners. The soft, C-shaped cushions can pose a suffocation risk and increase the incidence of SIDS. In the last 13 years, at least 12 babies were suffocated by a sleep positioner – most likely because they slid down and became entrapped with their face wedged up against the foam device.
Baby safety tip #13: Don’t water down formula!
This safety concern has surged during the recent recession and current economic crisis, as parents trying to make due with limited resources water down their baby’s infant formula. But watering down formula does more than deprive a baby of nutrition; it poses a serious risk of water intoxication. As strange as it might seem, water can be toxic when taken in amounts too large. One of the most dangerous things about the drug ecstasy is that it brings on a thirst that can cause users to literally drink themselves to death. Babies can face the same deadly risk if they consume too much water with too little nutrients, and infants, due to their small size, can reach water intoxication sooner than you might think. Infants under 6 months of age are most at risk for water intoxication. So never water down your infant’s formula to make it stretch. We’re seeing infants being brought to the emergency room close to death because of water intoxication from watered down formula. Stand outside the grocery store and ask strangers to buy you a can if you have to. (No baby should starve in this country because a parent is struggling, and people will help if they know you’re in need.) Absent that, it’s better they starve and scream than be served watered down formula.
Baby safety tip #14: Baby safety during baths
A baby’s bath water should be right around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. NEVER leave an infant alone in a baby bath or in the sink. Every single year we see cases of infants drowning in a bath after being left for “just a second.” The infant slides down and is underwater, and it only takes 30 seconds to a minute for them to drown. Sometimes CPR will revive them, sometimes it won’t.
Baby safety tip #15: Buy BPA-free baby products
BPA is a common plastic additive that acts as a synthetic estrogen. It’s so common that more than 92% of us have it in our system at any given time, thanks to our plastic saturated society. But it’s also been linked to hormonal imbalances in boys, early puberty in girls, and a host of other health problems. Babies and pregnant women are especially at risk for its effects. So look for toys and other baby products that are listed as BPA-free, and avoid plastics that are stamped with a number three or seven or the letters PC on their bottom, as these generally contain either BPA or phthalates.
Baby safety tip #16: Don’t sleep with your baby
We’re not one of those uptight organizations who believe sleeping with your children will somehow ruin them. Quite the contrary. Children thrive from close intimate contact with adults. But when it comes to babies, it’s too risky for them to share their parent’s bed, especially those younger than 6 months, who are most at risk for SIDS. Even from 6 months to a year, although the risk of SIDS drops, there is a significant potential for suffocation should an adult roll over onto a child in their sleep. Thus, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until a child is a year old before letting them sleep in a bed with adults.
Baby safety tip #17: Baby safety & pets
Pets can pose a risk to your baby in several ways. Aside from their potential to bite or scratch, pets can A) Knock a baby over or tip their carrier on its side, B) Knock/pull other items onto the infant (such as a blanket or soft toy) that can pose a suffocation risk, C) Suffocate a baby by sitting on them or snuggling up next to the baby’s face, D) Cause a fall injury by tripping you while you’re holding or carrying your baby.
To combat these risks, you should: A) Keep the cat out of your baby’s nursery when you’re not around, B) Avoid placing your baby’s seat anywhere where a pet could knock it over, C) Never leave a baby unattended in any room with pets. (Read more on this subject in our heading: Preparing a pet for the arrival of a new baby)
Baby safety tip #18: Give lots of tummy time
Tummy time builds a baby’s muscles around the head and neck, giving them more mobility and reducing suffocation risks. Plus, with all the time babies now spend in car seats or carriers, pediatricians are seeing more babies develop plagiocephaly, a condition of flat spots on the back or side of their head. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to place babies on their “back to sleep, tummy to play.” It’s advised that parents provide at least 10 seconds of supervised tummy time for newborns each day, slowly building up to an hour a day (broken up into several segments) by the time a baby is 3 months old. (Just be sure to never leave your infant alone on their stomach.) If babies get fussy when placed on their stomachs, get down with them and distract them with funny faces or some noise. They’ll forget what they were fussing about. The more tummy time you give them, the sooner they’ll develop the muscular ability that will keep them safe and lead to further development.
Baby safety tip # 19: Swaddle safely
Swaddling Infants inside a blanket is an age old practice that can comfort and sooth a fussy baby. But when swaddled too loosely, the blanket can come undone and hinder breathing, posing a suffocation threat. Wrap them too tightly, and it can hinder their movement, causing hip problems. Adding to the potential difficulties is the fact that babies “are like little Houdini’s,” says Karen Shirley, director of maternal-newborn services at Chippenham Hospital in Richmond Virginia. “One minute you think you’ve swaddled them tightly, and the next minute they don’t have one part of the blanket left on them.” (Landro, 2013)
One solution to this problem is to use wearable blankets instead, which utilize Velcro-secured swaddling to keep your baby safe and secure while still allowing them room to move in all the right places.