Being a parent, whether for the first time or seasoned, is a joyous adventure. However, with so many changes, there also comes an overwhelming sense of overload. We all know how important it is to keep a baby safe, which is one reason September is National Baby Safety Month. Use this checklist with tips from our UnityPoint Clinic pediatricians, to survey your home and baby’s surroundings to ensure a safe environment for you to raise a happy and healthy baby.
1. Never leave your baby in a hot car
Every summer, heartbreaking and preventable deaths happen nationwide when a parent leaves their child alone in a hot care. Sadly, more than 600 children have died this way since 1990. An important rule to follow is to never leave your baby alone in or around cars, even for a second. Here are a few tips to avoid leaving or forgetting your baby in the car.
- Leave an item of importance next to your child such as a cell phone, laptop or purse – so you’ll need to reach for it as soon as you arrive at your destination.
- Create a calendar reminder to drop your child off at daycare.
- Make a habit of looking in the back seat of your vehicle before you getting out.
If you ever see a child unattended in a car, call 911 immediately.
2. Don’t Microwave Your Baby’s Bottle
To avoid burning your child’s tongue, it’s important to never use a microwave to warm up their milk. UnityPoint Clinic Pediatrician, Dr. Sachin S. Nunnewar advises, “To prevent burns, do not microwave a baby's bottle. Many microwaves heat unevenly, creating 'hot spots' in your baby's formula that can burn your baby's mouth. Instead, warm the formula by running warm tap water over the bottle or submerging the bottle in a bowl of warm water. Make sure you test the temperature on your hand or wrist before feeding it to your baby.”
3. Create a Safe Sleep Environment
According to the CDC, the number one cause of accidental death in those under one year of age is unintentional suffocation, which includes death due to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Since 1992, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that all infants be placed on their back to sleep. Since that time, the incidence of SIDS has decreased by more than 50%. UnityPoint Clinic Pediatrician, Dr. Tricia Cooperrider, says, “If a baby can get on his or her stomach on their own, it’s ok to leave them there. However, no extra blankets, pillows or stuffed animals in the sleeping area until at least the age of one year.”
4. Be Cautious of Water
Water can be deadly for any infant or toddler. While pools and lakes can be great for summer fun, they pose a serious safety threat. As a cautious reminder, Dr. Cooperrider said, “Never leave your baby alone in the tub, as infants can drown in just inches of water.” To keep your children safe in and near water, follow simple water safety guidelines to ensure safety for your baby and your entire family.
5. Prevent Choking Incidents
Babies love to experience new things and one of the most common ways they carry out their intrigue is by putting things in their mouths, but, unfortunately, they cannot distinguish what is safe and what is not. A good rule of thumb to follow is if a toy is smaller than your thumb, the baby should not have access to it. UnityPoint Clinic Pediatrician Dr. Scott Oelberg suggests, “Anything that is firm or round (i.e. grapes, hot dogs) is not a good choice for a baby’s food. Cut these items into small pieces or avoid them altogether.”
6. Practice Infection Control
As the cold and flu season approach, it is easy for parents to forget to wash their hands. In fact, the majority of germs are spread by poor hand washing hygiene. UnityPoint Clinic offers immunizations to help protect against some infections, but good hygiene is a primary factor when preventing illness. Follow your pediatrician’s recommendation for your baby’s immunizations.
7. Practice Proper Changing Table Safety
Although a changing table makes diapering your baby easier, falls from such a high surface can be quite serious. Dr. Sachin S. Nunnewar recommends to, “Never leave your baby alone on a bed, couch, changing table or infant seat from which he or she can fall or roll off.” Here are some other precautions parents can take to avoid a serious injury:
- Choose a changing table with a steady guardrail.
- Keep diapering supplies within your reach, so you don’t have to leave your baby to grab them.
- Utilize a safety belt to help keep your little one in place.
If you have any additional questions when it comes to best safety practices for your little one, contact your UnityPoint Clinic pediatrician. Don’t have a doctor? Use our find a doctor tool today to find a pediatrician in your area.