Infant home safety is important to the health of your child. There are many aspects to safety – from guarding the emotional and mental drain of the parents to the physical and emotional safety of the child.
When infants come home from the hospital manuals are not attached. You aren’t warned about the sleep deprivation for nights on end when baby is sick or how quickly they learn to sit and scoot making the environment one big safety hazard. And you aren’t warned the incredible tug you feel in your heart each time baby places his hand in yours in complete trust.
Environmental infant home safety issues range from the kitchen to the family room and the bedroom. Anywhere that baby can crawl, scoot or be carried. In the kitchen be sure you have locks on all the cabinets to prevent accidents with chemicals or materials that can cut or physically harm your baby. Even at a young age as they learn to crawl they are able to open cabinets at the floor level. Some parents keep a cabinet full of plastic containers just for baby to play with.
In the bathroom the toilet should have a lid lock on it. Babies use all kinds of things to pull up to stand on. Toilets are one of them. Babies also have heads that are the heaviest part of their bodies. Once they begin to look down into a toilet their little bodies are quick to follow making a drowning accident in the home a distinct possibility.
Plug protectors should be placed all over the home in plugs that are at their level. For right now the plugs that are at adult eye level can be left without protectors. Medicine cabinets should have locks on them. And any items that contain chemicals (under the sink) or items that are sharp and are potentially dangerous (craft items) should also be locked.
When you are putting you newest angel to bed be sure to place him on his back and not his tummy. Research has found that babies who sleep on their stomachs are at a higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Use bumper pads in the bed to keep small hands and arms from becoming caught and from little heads going bump in the night against the hard rails.
Place the crib away from curtains and curtain cords. They can be wrapped around hands, fingers and necks and cause fatal damage. Take the mobile off the top of the bed when your little one is starting to sit up, around 5-7 months of age. Babies can easily pull the mobile down into the bed. Any busy toys placed in the crib should be mounted on the wall side of the crib so baby can’t use the attachments to climb out as they get older.
Infant home safety also includes not placing stuffed animals or pillows in the crib because the baby cannot turn his head well and can accidentally suffocate. Consider cat canopy if you have a cat to keep cat from snuggling with warm baby and accidentally suffocating the little one.
If your baby has a cold and you want to elevate the head of the bed to improve breathing anchor at least one end of the bed against a wall so it doesn’t roll and place another piece of heavy furniture against the other end. Use towel rolls in the bed so the baby doesn’t roll to the bottom of the bed and end up with his head down completely defeating the purpose of placing the head of the bed up.
Infant home safety includes the correct use of medications. Only use normal saline drops in the nose when your baby has a cold unless otherwise directed by the doctor. A cold is self-limiting and will go away. Miserable yes – but medication can actually make the issues worse or cause permanent damage.
Infant home safety issues should be addressed both before and after your baby comes home. It is amazing how quickly babies can scoot and crawl getting themselves in danger quicker than you realize.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Infants and Toddlers Safety in the Home and Community
Massachusetts Health and Human services: Home safety for infants and Yound Children
Parenting: Infant Safety Hazards
Nationwide Children’s Hospital: Home Safety for Infants and Toddlers
BabyCenter: CHildproofing around the house