This year, we had the great privilege of being introduced to our first grandbaby. She’s an incredibly beautiful bundle of energy who will soon be moving about to explore on her own. Luckily, our home has always been “baby proofed”, but feeling this great responsibility for her wellbeing, and not having had a baby around in quite a while, it is time to seriously think about what else needs to be done.
September is Baby Safety Month, sponsored annually by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), so there is no better time than now to survey the safety of your abode.
Ideally, the best time to babyproof is early in your pregnancy, before you register, so you can include needed safety items on your registry list. The best way to babyproof? Get down on your hands and knees and think like a baby! This is a great activity for both mom and dad, as males and females may look for and inspect different aspects of the home and safety measures in general.
Take care of all the obvious hazards, such as exposed electrical sockets and blind cords, but be on the lookout for those not-so-obvious items – empty dishwashers, hanging tablecloths that can be easily pulled down, and poisonous plants. Remember, babies at any age are curious explorers and want to touch, feel, lick, smell, and listen to everything and anything they can get their little hands on. Your job is to make your home as safe as possible so they can roam without worry. After all, this new addition is not a temporary guest and should be able to safely investigate every space in your home.
Consider child-proofing an ongoing process. Monitor your child’s growth and development and always try to stay one step ahead. For example, don’t wait until your baby starts crawling to put up stairway gates. Install them in advance so the entire family gets used to them and baby doesn’t associate his new-found milestone with barriers.
If you are preparing for baby #2 or #3, don’t underestimate your “seasoned” approach to babyproofing from the first time around. In fact, having an older sibling creates additional hazards – you should be aware of small parts from toys and your toddlers’ ability to open the doors, potty lids, and cabinets you have so ingeniously secured.
Top Hidden Hazards
- Magnets — Small magnets can be easily swallowed by children. Once inside the body, they can attract to each other and cause significant internal damage. Keep magnets out of your child’s reach. If you fear your child has swallowed magnets, seek medical attention immediately.
- Loose Change — Change floating around in pockets or purses may wind up on tables around the house, where curious children may be attracted to the shiny coins and ingest them. A wonderful way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to assign a tray or jar for loose change and keep it out of a child’s reach.
- Tipovers — Tipovers are a leading cause of injury to children and the best way to avoid them is to make sure all furniture and televisions are secured to the wall.
- Pot Handle Sticking Out from Stove — When cooking, it is best that pot handles turn inward instead of sticking out from the stove where little ones may reach up and grab the hot handle. In addition, if holding a child while cooking, remember to keep the handles out of the child’s reach.
- Loose Rugs or Carpet — Area rugs or carpet that is not secured to the floor causes a tripping hazard for little ones who may already be unstable on their feet. Make sure that all corners are taped down and bumps are smoothed out.
- Detergent Pods — It is estimated that thousands of children have been exposed to and injured by detergent pods. Easily mistaken by children as candy, these pods pose a risk to the eyes and, if ingested, to their lives. It is important to keep these items out of reach of children.
- Hot Mugs — A relaxing cup of coffee or tea can quickly turn into an emergency if hot mugs are left unattended or are placed to near the edge of tables where little hands can grab them.
- Cords — Cords can pose strangulation hazards to children, whether they are connected to blinds, home gym equipment or baby monitors. It’s important to keep cords tied up and out of reach of children. In addition, remember to keep cribs away from cords that the child may reach while inside the crib.
- Button Batteries — Button batteries are flat, round batteries that resemble coins or buttons. They are found in common household items such as flashlights, remotes or flameless candles.
- Recalled Products — Make sure you’re aware if a product you own has been recalled. In addition, check that any second-hand products you own have not been recalled. The best ways to ensure your products are safe is to fill out your product registration card as well as check for recalls at recalls.gov.
How to Choose and Use Products
Choose a baby carrier or sling made of a durable, washable fabric with sturdy, adjustable straps. Use a carrier or sling only when walking with your baby, never running or bicycling.
Choose a carriage or stroller that has a base wide enough to prevent tipping, even when your baby leans over the side. Use the basket underneath and don’t hang purses or shopping bags over the handles because it may cause the stroller to tip.
Choose a swing with strong posts, legs, and a wide stance to prevent tipping. Never place your swing or bouncer on an elevated surface such as sofas, beds, tables or counter tops.
When choosing a changing table, before leaving home, measure the length and width of the changing area available on the dresser and compare to the requirements for the add-on unit before purchasing. Check for attachment requirements. When changing baby, always keep one hand on baby and use restraints.
It is vital the car seat/booster is appropriate for a child’s age, weight, and height. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for both the vehicle and the seat. As of this writing, the American Academy of Pediatrics used to recommend rear-facing seats for children until at least age 2. Now, the organization is updating its guidelines and wants parents to keep their children in rear-facing seats until they reach the seat’s maximum height and weight limit — even if they’re older than 2. Under the new guidelines, most kids would keep using rear-facing seats until they’re about 4 years old.
Choose a crib mattress that fits snugly with no more than two fingers width, one-inch, between the edge of the mattress and the crib side. Never place the crib near windows, draperies, blinds, or wall-mounted decorative accessories with long cords.
Choose the right gate for your needs. Before leaving home, measure the opening size at the location the gate will be used. Gates with expanding pressure bars should be installed with the adjustment bar or lock side away from the baby.
Use waist and crotch strap every time you place a child in the high chair to prevent falls from standing up or sliding out.
And, consider these things when introducing products to your inventory:
- Safest Option – Keep in mind that new products meeting current safety standards are the safest option.
- Second-Hand Products – It is recommended secondhand products should not be used for baby. However, if it is necessary to use older products, make sure all parts are available, the product is fully functional, not broken, and has not been recalled.
- Register your products — Through product registration, parents can establish a direct line of communication with the manufacturer should a problem arise with a product purchased. This information is NOT used for marketing purposes.
Fun Tips and Tricks for New Parents
- Trying to lose the baby weight? Cut down on late night snacks by brushing your teeth after you put the kids to bed so you won’t be likely to ruin clean teeth.
- Keep allergens away from your toddler and older children simply by changing their pillow. Don’t know when the last time you changed it was? Buying a new one every year on their birthday is an easy way to remember!
- While nursing or feeding baby #2, encourage your toddler or older children to read stories to the new baby. Even just telling a story through the pictures keeps your toddler in site and occupied during this already special time.
- For toddlers working on mastering stairs, install a child safety gate two or three steps up from the bottom stair to give your child a small, safe space to practice.
- If the sight of blood terrifies your child, use dark washcloths to clean up cuts and scrapes. Better yet, try storing the cloths in plastic bags in the freezer the coldness will help with pain relief.
- Keep baby happy and warm during baths. Drop the shampoo and soap in the warm water while you are filling the tub. When it’s time to lather baby, the soap won’t be so cold.
- Cranky teething baby? Wet three corners of a washcloth and stick it in the freezer. The rough, icy fabric soothes sore gums and the dry corner gives them a “handle”.
- Having a tough time getting baby to stay still while diaper changing? Wear a silly hat or bobble headband. As a reward for staying still, be sure to let your baby or toddler wear the hat when finished!
- Before baby #2 arrives, put together a “fun box” for the older sibling that she is only allowed to play with when you nurse or feed baby #2. Inexpensive toys, coloring books, and snacks are all great ideas to include. Be sure to refresh the items once a week to keep an active toddler interested.
- Put a plastic art mat underneath the high chair while they learn to eat to contain the mess.
- Tape pics of family members or animals to the ceiling or wall near of your changing table so baby has something to look when diaper changing.
- Baby or kid yogurt containers make great snack cups on the go. Some yogurt containers cannot be recycled, so why not wash and reuse? They are perfect snack size portions, easy for little hands to grab and even fit in the cup holders of stroller trays. They can also hold just the right amount of crayons for on the go coloring!
- Can’t get little ones to sit still while you brush or style hair? Put a sticker on your shirt and tell them to look at the sticker. As they get older, make it a game and see if they can count to 50 before you can get those ponytails in!
It’s A Fact
Most injuries can be prevented! Parents and caregivers play a huge role in protecting children from injuries. Choosing the right baby products for your family can be overwhelming, but safety should never be compromised.
What Can You Do?
- Choose and use age and developmentally appropriate products.
- Read and follow all manufacturer’s instructions, recommendations for use, and warning labels.
- Register your products and establish a direct line of communication with the manufacturer.
- Actively supervise — watch, listen and stay near your child.
- Frequently inspect products for missing hardware, loose threads and strings, holes, and tears.
- Monitor your child’s growth and development and discontinue use when needed.
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