While baby safety is always top of mind for parents and caregivers, Baby Safety Month in September is the perfect time to revisit the basics of caring for an infant to keep your newborn safe. Adopt good safety practices to avoid common hazards for babies.
One of the most important ways to protect your baby is through safe sleep practices. Avoid bed-sharing and remove loose items like a blanket or stuffed animal from the crib; always place your baby on his or her back to sleep. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is a concern for many parents, but taking action to ensure the baby’s crib space is safe and that the baby sleeps on its back can help reduce this risk.
In the home, tip-over injuries occur when a child pulls an unstable item over. Anchoring heavy furniture and other items typically found in households can help prevent these types of injuries. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 9,000 children under age 10 were treated in an emergency department due to tip-over accidents involving a heavy appliance, piece of furniture or television. You can anchor potentially dangerous items by attaching furniture to studs in the wall and mounting televisions. If anchoring isn't viable, use baby gates to keep your children from areas that could be deemed more at risk or dangerous for potential tip-over injuries.
Similarly, seemingly harmless everyday items could pose a fall risk to babies. Always supervise infants whenever they're strapped into elevated equipment such as bouncers and high chairs. Ensure babies are strapped in correctly and that the seats are firmly on the ground, not on surfaces like a bed or counter.
Outside the safety of the home, roadway injuries are reported to be the leading cause of preventable deaths in babies in the United States. Correctly using a car seat can reduce the risk of death and injury by 71%, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Parents should carefully review the installation directions to ensure the child's car seat is installed correctly.
Children should begin riding in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of their vehicle – children can typically move away from rear-facing seats once they are over age 2 or meet the weight or height limit for the car seat. Consult your child’s pediatrician about the proper time to move them from rear-facing to front-facing car seats.
Another important tip regarding baby safety is staying up to date on product recalls. Popular baby items such as toys occasionally face recalls when consumers or suppliers discover defects or potential product hazards. Parents should do their best to ensure they stay updated on these products, especially if they already own them. A database for checking recalled items can be easily found on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
Take the time during National Baby Safety Month to review basic safety standards and brush up on tips to keep your baby healthy and out of harm's way. Spread awareness about protecting babies from potential daily dangers by reminding friends, caregivers and other family members of these best practices. After all, a healthy and happy baby is a safe baby.