Every parent wants to be able to bring their child safety, even from the smallest hints of pain. The reality is you won’t always be there to protect them from the dangers of this world. Many of your children may already have grown up and now your kids are having kids. You know better than anyone that kids will get scraped, bumped up, and bruised – that’s an inescapable reality for every child – even when there are adults are around.
But there’s always that inkling, that pressing question: What if? What if those scrapes, bumps, and bruises were stitches, fractures, or breaks? Accidents happen all the time but, thankfully, we can take steps as parents, babysitters, or caregivers that help children avoid serious injuries. We hope that you use these child safety tips to keep your little ones around you as safe as possible.
11 Child Safety Principles to Help You Protect Your Baby
Few things in this world can give exhausted parents relief like a sleeping baby. But there’s a lot of small steps you can take to giving them the soundest, safest sleep.
- When you place your baby in the crib, make sure they sleep on their back and not their tummies. This will help reduce the risk of Sudden Death Infant Syndrome (SIDS). Giving your baby a pacifier to sleep with will also reduce their chance of SIDS.
- For at least the first year of your baby’s life, you should avoid soft and loose bedding that can suffocate them (e.g., blankets, pillows, plush toys, and bumpers). Opting for a hard mattress with taut, fitted sheets is safest for your baby.
- To keep your baby warm at night, some parents choose to swaddle them but not all babies find this comfortable. Keeping your house (or specific room) at a moderate temperature will help them sleep freely and comfortably without overheating.
- The crib’s slats should be 2 3/8 inches apart which translates to a can of soda being able to fit perfectly between them. This ensures that your baby won’t get itself stuck between bars.
It’s terrifying that so many things can contribute to choking, suffocation, and (God forbid) death. Babies have oral fixations and will put anything in their mouths, regardless of whether mom or dad is watching.
- Inspect your child’s toys often. Make sure that they are unbreakable, have no small removable parts (this includes balloons), and are not sharp. Check for mold in their toys as well because some popular ones have been known to harbor black mold over time – throw these out! As a general rule of thumb, toys and their pieces should be larger than your baby’s mouth.
- Every now and then, walk on all fours around the house; it will become very clear what a curious baby might want to put in their mouth.
- Keep strings and cords away from your baby’s body and bed. This includes things like strings or buttons on clothes, mobiles that hang too low, and drapes or lamp cords.
- Foods like raw carrots, nuts, grapes, and other small or round foods that pose a choking hazard should not be fed to your baby. Avoid putting your baby to sleep with a milk bottle also as it could cause them to choke.
- Take chest compression and artificial respiration courses to make sure you’re well versed in how to perform CPR if necessary.
Bath time can be the most fun time, but it comes with its fair share of risks. About 47% of children aged 10 to 17 who tragically drowned had swimming skills, so don’t underestimate your supervising role when it comes to your baby and water safety.
- Test the water to make sure it isn’t too hot before placing your baby in it. According to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, you should bathe your baby in water just above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This helps prevent your baby from both being chilled and burned.
- Never leave your baby alone and unattended in the bathtub, even if they’re in a bath ring. Drowning can happen in just a few seconds!
- After your bath in the sink, bathtub, bucket, or whatever else, drain it immediately. Keeping washroom doors and toilet lids closed will also remove your baby’s water risk.
- If you are near open water (e.g., your backyard pond or public beach), you should either fence it off is possible or keep your baby away from it unless you’re together.
Smoking and Fire Safety
This is something that seems like a no-brainer when it comes to child safety because it seems to happen so rarely. But if it does, this will help you be prepared.
- Fire hazards like matches and lighters can be colorful and look like toys, so you need to keep these (and other sources of fire) out of their reach and safely hidden.
- Do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby! Even if someone smokes outside, chemical particles can linger on your clothing, hair, and skin which can affect your baby.
- Ideally, you want to have a smoke detector (and, if possible, fire extinguishers) on every floor in your home. The batteries may be fine but, to be safe, change them anyway every six months.
- No matter how much you love your baby, leave them safe and secured in a high chair away from excessive heat, hot oil, and pans. For some of the older kids who scoot in and out of the kitchen, try cooking on the back burners and keep handles from hanging over the edge.
Over the years, our homes have become filled with more and more chemicals: kitchen and bathroom cleaners, toothpastes, or even some of the foods we buy. However, convenience comes with risk and, sometimes, consequences.
- If you think your child has swallowed a dangerous substance, please avoid from trying to make them throw it up or wash it down further. Instead, keep your family doctor, the police, and poison control (1-800-222-1222) on speed-dial. Follow their instructions. Make these numbers visible and accessible to anyone who may also take care of your child.
- Store household detergents, cleaners, and medicines high up in a secure cabinet, or install childproof locks on all cabinet doors containing these products.
- Keep lithium batteries away from your child. This can include electronics and gadgets such as car alarms, remote controls, clocks, laser pointers, flashlights, flameless candles, etc.
- If you feed your kids vitamins, it is best not to call them ‘candy’. This term almost always sparks any kid’s interest and can lead to overdose. Over half of all childhood intoxications happen because of an accidental medication intake.
Fall and Injury Prevention
Your kids will trip, fall, and hurt themselves. That’s a fact. But these are the ways to you can make their surroundings as safe as possible when it does happen.
- Any parent who uses an infant carrier or high chair should always place it on the floor. Leaving it on a counter, tabletop, chair, or any other piece of furniture increases the fall risk. Any parent knows how easy it is turn around in a rush and knock something over. On the ground, make sure the baby is strapped in safely and comfortably.
- Never leave your baby alone on a couch, bed, changing table, countertop, or seat from which they can fall or roll off. Like the water safety section, these unnecessary accidents only take seconds to happen.
- Get certified safety gates and install them in front of doors or stairs. For staircases, you want to have one at both the top and bottom. Safety bars on windows is something many parents also consider. Be sure, however, to get ones with emergency release options in case of emergency.
- When your baby starts to travel around the house in a baby walker, fence off stairs, hanging wires, tables or shelves with sharp edges, and heating appliances.
- Something people often forget is that furniture (e.g., bookshelves, drawers, etc.) can tip over and fall if they aren’t fastened to the wall.
‘W’ Sitting Position
We don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but you may have to try and take your kid’s favorite, most comfortable sitting position away.
- Sitting in the ‘W’ position can increase your child’s risk of several health issues. These can include delayed motor skills, development of postural control and stability, and serious orthopedic problems.
- Kids seem to naturally find their way into this position. So, what you can do is try to keep it from becoming a habit. When they’re young, you can correct it yourself. But when they get older, sit down with them and explain why it can be dangerous to keep sitting that way. It will help your kid’s growth and development greatly!
The first time a child gets on a bicycle, slips on a pair of roller blades, or hops on a scooter is special. But whether they’re great at it or struggle to learn, you’ve got to practice safety first.
- Whenever your child gets on something with wheels, they should wear a helmet to prevent bleeding, breaks, or brain injuries. Depending on you and your child, there are also elbow pads, knee pads, and wrist guards available for added safety as well.
- Dress your child in visible and bright clothes with reflective material (if possible) so others can see you. Your bike should also have working reflectors, brakes, gears – basically, check it before going a ride to make sure it’s safe and in good condition.
- Before going out on a ride, instruct your child on how to make eye contact with other riders or drivers and use hand signals when turning left or right.
- Lead by example! Dressing in a reflective shirt may not be your kid’s idea of fashionable. And how can you expect them to act safely when you, for example, aren’t wearing a helmet because you’ve been biking for years?
Most tips so far have been for inside the home, but what about when your child is traveling around town with you? Here’s what you need to know.
- Children under 4’6” and 70.8 pounds need to use a car seat. Once your child becomes too big for a car seat, sit them in a booster seat.
- If your baby is under the age of two, you should place the car seat against the car movement (i.e., not front-facing). Pinch the belt and tighten any slack that remains so that the car seat itself never shifts more than 3 centimeters (about 1 inch).
- Once your child is old and big enough, they should use an adult seat and regular seatbelt. Make sure the upper belt passes over the child’s chest and shoulder (not across the neck), while the lower belt lies on the hips (not across the stomach).
- Every parent is guilty of forgetting sometimes, even their own children. Make a habit of leaving your purse, briefcase, food, or cell phone in the backseat on the floor away from your child. This way, you’ll remember to check the backseat before leaving your car.
- As your kid gets older, it’s important to be extra diligent about keeping your car doors and trunk locked, with the keys safely placed away from them.
This is definitely a lot of information to take in all at once. The good thing is that many or your parents or friends have imparted similar knowledge already, but it helps to have this information accessible for those moments of uncertainty.
Something that’s very important to realize is that your child will get hurt at one point or another. Take some of these steps to make those moments as pain-free as possible. But know that they’ll only grow stronger with some struggle.
This information is based on tips from the following sites:
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