Top Baby Safety Advice for New Parents
Becoming a parent is an experience that is entirely unique to each person, of course, but a few truths are pretty universal. One is that first-time motherhood or fatherhood is certainly full of new experiences. You never knew you could function on such little sleep, for example. The overwhelming sense of love and protection you feel for this tiny life is another. You want to do everything you can to keep your baby safe.
Staying focused on safety is extremely important as your baby grows. According to the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of death for infants under 1 year old, just behind premature birth and birth defects. For Michigan children in all other age groups, accidents are the leading cause of death.
Henry Ford pediatrician Eileen Hug, D.O., says these tragedies could be averted with some forethought and safety preparation, and that effort should start early. Here are Dr. Hug’s tips for infant safety — from bed to bath and beyond.
- Car seat safety: “Before your baby even comes home, put the car seat in the car,” Dr. Hug says. This will give parents a chance to ensure it’s installed properly before that first stressful car ride with your new precious cargo. As your child grows, be sure to follow all the manufacturer’s instructions for adjusting the car seat straps and inserts, when applicable.
- Bath safety: The water temperature in your home should be checked and set to 120 degrees or less, Dr. Hug says, to prevent accidental burns and injuries to infants. Still, even with this precaution, parents should never leave baby alone at bath time. “Even if they have bath accessories, it’s too dangerous,” Dr. Hug warns.
- Sleep safety: Dr. Hug also stresses the importance of sleep safety. Babies up to 1 year of age should always be placed on their backs to sleep. Dr. Hug says this practice has lead to a decrease in deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Dr. Hug adds that baby’s crib should have a firm, tight-fitting mattress and free of pillows and bumper pads. These items increase the risk of baby becoming tangled up leading to suffocation or strangulation. “No stuffed animals in the crib either,” Dr. Hug adds. Other crib safety tips from Hug include checking the spaces between the crib slats. If they are too wide, baby’s head could become trapped, resulting in tragedy. Also, check to be sure that the crib is properly assembled. There should not be any missing or cracked slats.
- Kitchen safety: The kitchen is another safety “hot” spot. “It’s common for moms to hold their baby in their arms while standing in front of the stove,” Dr. Hug says. “But it’s a huge risk for burns and other injuries.”
Dr. Hug says your child’s pediatrician should provide additional safety advice during well-child visits.
“Typically we give anticipatory guidance at our well baby visits and discuss what safety concerns parents should be aware of as the child develops,” she says. Dr. Hug points out that a 4-month-old baby or a 9-month-old baby is not the same child as at 2 months of age. “Anticipatory guidance” is information that helps parents prepare for the next stages in their child’s growth and development.
“Well visits are a great time to ask questions,” Dr. Hug says. “I usually ask parents to write questions down as they think of them and grab the list before leaving the house.”
Dr. Eileen Hug is a board-certified pediatrician, seeing patients at Henry Ford Medical Center – Sterling Heights.