September Is National Baby Safety Month

September Is National Baby Safety Month

**September 9, 20222, NAPS is offering a free webinar about this topic, led by Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Ellen McCue. This is for all parents and caregivers who are expecting or have a baby up through walking toddler age. Click here for more details!**

 

Parents ask us about baby and child proofing all the time. Questions like, do we really have to do it, how much needs to be done before the baby’s born, and how dangerous is it to put off or decide not to baby proof at all.

The answers to all these questions are specific to you. You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to, that’s the truth.

But… I want to tell you the secret of baby proofing: it’s really for you, the parent. Because if you don’t baby proof, you’re going to be chasing them around your house, watching them like a hawk, worrying about what they’re getting into. Basic baby proofing lets your baby explore your space with greater safety. Not that you don’t have to watch them, of course, but your baby can have a little more freedom.

So how do you baby proof? You don’t have to do everything at once. We’ve clumped things together for you at different stages. Again, you don’t have to do all of this, or any of it. But we do recommend that you do some things to make your space safer.

Newborn: Before you have your baby, here are a few things to consider:

  • Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they’re in working order (and make sure there’s one in your baby’s room with fresh batteries)
  • Establish a safe space for the crib
  • Build a first aid kit and place it somewhere accessible
  • Purchase and place fire extinguishers in key locations in your home
  • Put a temperature guard on your tub to keep the heat from getting too high (if you can’t access the water gauges yourself, you can purchase a thermometer for your bath to check the temperature of the water)
  • Make sure your wipes and supplies are on or near changing station so you don’t need to leave the baby on the table 
  • Place a thick rug next to the changing table
  • Put a sun shade in your car by the car seat
  • Learn how to install your car seat (and get it checked by the local fire department)

By 4 months old: When your child can hold their head steady, shake toys, and bring things to their mouths, you may want to do the following:

  • Take a CPR class and learn what to do if your baby is choking
  • Get a highchair and make sure it’s in a secure, safe location in your home
  • If you haven’t already, start using buckles in all baby swings and seats

Between 4-6 months old: When your child is starting to roll from back to belly, starting solids, rocking, and sitting up, it’s time to do a little more proofing. For example:

  • Lower your crib mattress all the way down
  • Start to put your baby to sleep unswaddled, or with their arms free
  • Secure any cords or outlets near the crib (don’t forget about blinds and shades!)
  • Cover sharp edges on your furniture 
  • Remove or secure any poisonous plants in your home or yard
  • Make sure you don’t have any flaking paint in your home

 

Around 9 months old: When your child is creeping or crawling, and starts pulling to stand, here are some additional proofing actions to consider:

  • Check your baby’s sleep environment for things they might use for leverage to get out of their crib (make sure there aren’t any bumpers or anything else they can use to climb, or anything on the wall they might be able to reach when standing)
  • Install baby gates on tops and bottoms of every set of stairs
  • Cover your outlets, as well as any accessible cords you still have plugged in
  • Plan a hard-to-reach location for small loose objects that your baby could put in their mouths and choke on (for instance, spare change, safety pins, or hair ties)
  • Lock your medicine cabinet, even if it’s over the sink
  • Secure your kitchen and bathroom cabinets, including anywhere you store cleaning products
  • Put down a mat in the bathtub to prevent slipping 
  • Anchor your TV and other heavy furniture - don’t assume it’s anchored already!
  • Get rid of any wobbly floor lamps, or move them somewhere hard to reach

 

Around 12 months old: You’ve already done most of the toddler proofing already, but there are some things you can enhance:

  • Put safety fixtures on your oven knobs, and a lock on the oven door
  • Start using the lock on the dishwasher if you haven’t already
  • Check (and re-anchor if necessary) any large furniture, including dressers and bookshelves
  • Get down on your baby’s level and think about what they might climb or reach when they grow slightly bigger (it’ll happen fast!)
  • Make sure to drain any baby pools immediately after using them

Between 12-18 months old: Your child is starting to walk independently

  • Add door knob safety covers to your outside doors, as well as basement doors and other rooms that are not safe for your child
  • Invest in a helmet for your child if they are going to be riding a scooter or tricycle. Get them used to wearing it any time they are riding.

 

And beyond: Children are individuals with different interests, so you’ll want to tailor your proofing to match. For instance:

  • Are they getting a little too obsessed with the dog food? Get a special container that’s hard to open. 
  • Are they intrigued by the shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom? Make sure you store it high up in the shower. 
  • Has your child figured out how to open the freezer and get themselves a special helping of ice cream? Consider a child lock for the fridge and freezer.

Remember that baby and child proofing doesn’t mean that your child can’t get hurt or tangled up in trouble. Kids will be kids, and they’ll find their way into trouble. But you can decrease the likelihood of injury by following the bullet points above. 

We also recommend encouraging exploration! If your child loves opening cabinets, lock all of them except one, and fill that cabinet with child-safe pots and pans that they can pull out and smash together (preferably when you’re not on a conference call). Try to find ways to bring joy into your child’s every day at-home experiences, so it’s not just “no” or “not that,” it’s also “try this,” and “look over here.” Finding fun in these new stages can be daunting, but it really is possible. Best of luck!

 

Emily Silver is a Family Nurse Practitioner and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She is also a co-founder of NAPS. NAPS supports women throughout pregnancy and up through early childhood with an in-depth online learning platform, Nurture by NAPS, a wide array of virtual classes and consultations and even in-home lactation and nursing care.

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