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Smart strategies to help keep your child safe

Nov 16, 2021

The moment you become a parent, many of your priorities change. When you meet your son or daughter for the very first time, keeping that precious little person safe naturally becomes a top goal. From safety while riding in cars to making adjustments in your home to help prevent falls, burns and other injuries, you can dramatically boost the safety of your child’s immediate environment. It’s vital: a 2018 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey found that there were nearly 23,000 emergency room visits for children 12 months and younger in a year in the United States due to accidents. Many such injuries are preventable with simple child safety measures.

Parenting with safety in mind is an ever-changing exercise. What you’ll need to do to keep your newborn safe and sound is different from the precautions you’ll need to take when you have a crawling or walking toddler on your hands. It’s smart to put yourself on your child’s level to see what she sees, so you’ll notice potential hazards before they become safety issues.

Here are some easy-to-implement measures that can help keep your little one safe, from the newborn stage up to toddlerhood. You’ve got this, parents!

Smart strategies to help keep your child safe

Safety at Home

Chances are, your child will spend the majority of his or her time at home, so making that environment as safe as possible should be a top goal. Take time to evaluate risks in your house and yard and make simple adjustments to increase protection. Maximizing your child’s safety at home has an added bonus: you’ll enjoy greater peace of mind! Here are some things to consider:

Newborns & Infants
  • Don’t place your baby on elevated surfaces that are unsecured. This includes putting her in her car seat on a countertop. When you place your baby on a diaper changing table, make sure you keep your hand on her the whole time.
  • Outfit your diaper changing table with a pad with contoured sides and/or a safety strap to prevent rolling and keep your hand on baby at all times while changing her diapers. It’s also smart to keep your stock of diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream and any other changing supplies you need within arm’s reach.
  • If you have hardwood floors, don’t carry your baby up or down stairs in socks, as they can create a slip and fall hazard.
  • If you have pets, make sure you have a way to separate your fur babies from your human baby when you can’t supervise their interactions. This includes blocking a dog or cat from entry into baby’s nursery during nap times.
  • Invest in a good video monitor for baby’s nursery. That way, you can keep an eye on her during nap times while you’re in another part of the house.
Toddlers
  • Before your child starts crawling or walking, take time to get down on a toddler’s level to see what they will see.
  • Invest in baby gates to prevent your child from going places you don’t want them to. This might include putting a baby gate in front of stairs or in front of a door that leads to a room of workout equipment.
  • Put child safety locks on drawers and cabinets to keep little fingers safe.
  • If your furniture has sharp edges that your child can reach (like a glass coffee table, for example), consider adding child safety bumpers to smooth out the sharp parts.
  • Add electrical outlet covers on all electrical sockets that are within your toddler’s reach
  • If you have top-heavy pieces of furniture like dressers or entertainment centers, add wall anchors to prevent your child from pulling them over.
  • Blinds with long cords can be tempting for a growing child to play with. They can also present choking or strangulation risk. Consider tying up cords that would be within reach or invest in cordless window coverings.
  • Moms and dads know that little ones like to put just about everything in their mouths. Laundry detergent and cleaning supplies can present danger to your child, so make sure to keep them safely out of reach or locked away.
  • If you have pets, make sure you can supervise your child’s interaction with them. Often, little ones don’t know how to be gentle with a dog or a cat, so supervision can help you teach your child appropriate behavior to keep them from getting a scratch or a bite.
  • Make sure your yard is as safe as possible for your newly mobile child. This includes examining fencing for holes they could slip through, looking for any sharp rocks or sticks that could prove dangerous and making sure stairs are blocked off. If you have a pool or other water feature in your yard, make sure it’s secured so that your child can’t access it.
  • Once your child is old enough to play on equipment like bicycles and scooters, make sure they’re outfitted with a properly fitting helmet and knee and elbow pads.

Car Safety

  • cturer. Most convertible seats have limits that allow children to ride rear-facing up to or longer than 2 years of age, typically between 35 and 40 lbs.
  • When children have outgrown their rear-facing car seat, they should transition to a forward-facing car seat with a harness. They should continue with this until they reach the height or weight limits.
  • All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their CSS should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 ft 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
  • Once a child has outgrown the height or weight of their forward-facing harness car seat, they can transition to a belt-positioning booster seat, still riding in the back seat. This helps position them appropriately to use the vehicle’s built-in seat belt.
  • The AAP recommends children up to 13 years of age continue to ride in the back seat.
  • Don’t rush your child from one stage to the next. Children, especially once they have enough vocabulary to talk to you about wanting to be a “big kid,” may ask to graduate to the next car seat stage. It’s important to make wise choices to keep them in the car seat or booster that provides the best safety for their age and stage. When it’s time to bring your newborn home from the hospital, the staff can confirm that you have a properly installed infant car seat in your vehicle before you leave. For all of your little one’s ages and stages, having a properly installed baby car seat or booster seat, appropriately sized to your child, is vital.
  • Here are some things to keep in mind.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that newborns and infants ride in a baby car seat in the rear-facing position in the back seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat manufa

Baby Gear

As you can imagine, baby gear such as strollers, car seats, playpens, swings, cribs, toys and more are highly regulated for safety in the United States. Certifications from organizations like NHTSA can help signal to parents that a piece of equipment is designed with safety in mind. Other organizations like the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission can help alert parents if a baby product is being recalled because of malfunction or poor design, while independent rating publications like Consumer Reports help you search for baby products that are top-rated for safety and other key features.

It’s always important to remain watchful that your baby gear stays in top condition, since normal (or more than normal) wear-and-tear can reduce its safety. For example, if a car seat is in an accident - even a minor fender bender - it should be replaced, as its effectiveness to prevent injuries could be compromised. Similarly, if your stroller’s straps become frayed or worn or if your baby’s toys start to degrade over time, take a moment to evaluate whether or not they should be replaced in favor of a new, safer model.

It’s also vital to notice how your child grows and develops, so you can adjust your baby gear as needed. For example, playards (sometimes called playpens) like the Pack ’n Play have varying upper height and weight limits designed to keep growing children safe. If your child is too heavy or is able to climb out, you’ll want to discontinue using that product.

Of course, growing kids are always learning new things (and tricks!), so pay attention to their newly acquired skills in using different pieces of baby gear. If you notice your little one has become adept at unbuckling car seat buckles, for example, it’s time to consider upgrading to a different model with an upgraded latching system. As your child grows and her verbal and cognitive skills increase, talk to her about safety and why it’s important she remain buckled in for car rides.

Medical and First Aid

Accidents can happen even for children with the most keyed-in parents. It’s smart to have first-aid supplies at home, including bandages, antibacterial wound care for cuts and scrapes, a thermometer and some kid-safe over the counter medications for things like fever reduction and allergies. You might want to take a Red Cross CPR class with techniques tailored to little ones. It’s also smart to keep a thorough list of emergency numbers (your local hospital, your child’s pediatrician, Poison Control, etc…) displayed so you and any caretakers can access it easily.

Taking these steps can go a long way toward boosting your peace of mind and helping keep your child safe!

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