Babies! They’re adorable, squishy and oh- so- fragile. I remember feeling nervous about holding my first baby then realizing after a couple of times, I had it down. Relax, you’ll become a pro at caring for and keeping your baby safe. Most birth centers will do an excellent job teaching you some newborn care basics before going home. But a hospital stay likely lasts only 1 to 2 days after baby’s birth. It can be hard to cover everything you need to know about life with a new baby in the hospital. Which is why it’s important to prepare and ask questions ahead of time.
The great thing is that you will always have help to guide you along the way. Here are some basic safety tips:
Did you know that 3 out of 4 car seats is installed incorrectly? It’s important to get to know your car seat and make sure it’s properly used. There’s no “best” car seat. The $500 seat can be useless if it doesn’t do the job of protecting baby. The best seat is one that fits in your vehicle, fits your child, and is easy for you to use correctly. Once you’ve chosen a seat, install it using your car seat manual and your vehicle manual’s car seat section. You’ll find all of the important installation and use information there. Babies and children should fit snugly into the harnessing with the chest clip at armpit level. If you want to ensure a good fit, you can find a car seat inspection station near you.
Safe Sleep Environment
Babies don’t need a lot. There are basics such as diapers, food, love and a safe sleep environment. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends laying babies on their backs for sleep, no co-sleeping, and laying baby on a firm mattress with a fitted sheet and no additional items to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Historically, babies have shared the family bed. Nowadays it is not recommended to everyone since a safe sleep environment might not be available in every family bed. Other things to consider are that a sleeping parent using drugs, alcohol, cigarette smoke, heavy blankets and pillows, and certain medications make the sleep environment unsafe.
Babyproofing and Home Safety
Baby’s activity levels will climb as well as his curiosity. Once he’s mobile, take a little crawl down on his level to see if there are choking hazards or other items you’ll need to take care of. If baby has siblings, its likely that small toys like legos can be left on the floor. You’ll find that babies love to pull on things. So keep cribs away from windows and other things baby can reach. Babyproofing will include securing items to the wall that can tip over such as dressers and TV stands. One of my simplest safety tips: you don’t have to babyproof everything early on, but getting it done before baby gets mobile is ideal.
Bath safety starts with setting the water heater below 120˚F. Always have baby close when laying him down on a bed or changing table. You never know when that big roll to his tummy might happen. Also, never leave baby in a bath. If you need to leave the room, wrap him up and take him with you. Another thing to start getting used to is testing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
Baby clothes are adorable! I have a hard time getting rid of the tiniest outfits. Luckily not only are baby clothes cute, they’re also simple and practical. Zippers and snaps are easy and safe to use. Be aware of buttons or other accessories sewed on to an outfit as they may loosen and become a choking hazard. Rule of thumb when dressing baby: dress him in one layer more than what you’re wearing. Light layers are best as baby’s temperature fluctuates faster than ours.
Newborn care class is a good start to learn baby safety. Your baby’s pediatrician, family, and friends are great resources. You may even find support groups geared towards baby care.
We live in a time where can find reliable safety tips right at our fingertips. Another great resource is www.safekids.org.