12 Top Child Safety Tips for New Parents
Is there anyone more worried about doing everything right than a first-time parent-to-be? Everything is fuel for concern. Is the baby eating enough? Are they warm enough?
One of the biggest areas for concern is just about anything safety related. Your home and car are both in need of safety updates or upgrades when a baby or young child is concerned. There are items to lock away and furniture to secure when children are in the home. With children in the car, it’s important to know and understand state-specific car seat laws and regulations.
There are always exceptions and crazy situations, but there are a handful of safety elements every new parent should be on top of early on.
Newborns sleep a lot. They may not sleep for long periods of time, but they will sleep often. Because they will be spending so much time asleep, new parents need to make sure they are practicing safe sleep techniques.
#1 – Crib Security
For parents who choose a crib for their child’s sleep, ensure that the selected crib meets all current safety standards. Most new cribs will easily meet or exceed these standards, but any crib that is five years old or more will need to be heavily scrutinized.
Once the crib is structurally sound, make sure it’s clear of all extra fabrics or toys. Newborns and young babies shouldn’t be placed in a crib with loose blankets, materials, or stuffed toys. A bare crib with a fitted sheet is all they need to ensure a good and safe night’s sleep.
#2 – Co-Sleeping Risks
Co-sleeping, though controversial, is another way some parents choose to sleep with their newborns. There are inherent risks, and these should be understood.
If co-sleeping is still a desire, then make intentional choices to ensure everyone’s safety. Consider investing in a co-sleeping bassinet. This modern gadget can be secured next to the parents’ bed, but still allow the baby a safe sleep environment.
Stairs and Falls
Falls are a big concern for parents. A large portion of infant injuries come from falls. A big culprit in these falls is a simple set of stairs. It’s a good idea to secure the stairs and other fall hazards well before the baby becomes mobile.
#3 – Changing Table Concerns
A changing table is a great tool, and it helps ensure everyone’s comfort during the almost constant daily diaper changes. But these tables can be a big fall hazard for young babies.
When purchasing a changing table, ensure it has all the necessary safety measures: solid and sturdy guardrails, a sunken middle portion, and a safety strap. All of these aspects help ensure a baby stays in one place during the entire diaper change experience.
Even with the best changing table with all the highest-rated safety measures, accidents can still happen. Every time you change a baby’s diaper, make sure the baby is never left unattended.
#4 – Staircase Safety
According to the CDC, nearly 8,000 children are treated in emergency rooms across the country for fall-related injuries. A large portion of these falls happen on or near a home’s staircase.
The best safety tip for stairs is to add a properly installed baby gate or fence at both the top and bottom of each staircase. These gates will ensure your little one is safe at all times, even in those brief moments your eyes aren’t on them.
Car Seat Safety
Car seats are another area of contention and worry for many new parents. Some of the concern comes with installation, but a lot of concern comes in knowing when a child graduates to the next type and size of car seat.
#5 – Use the Proper Car Seat Installed Properly
Did you know 75% of all car seats are installed incorrectly? The large majority of parents are placing children in car seats that are simply not safe. That’s a scary statistic.
Install car seats well before they are needed (before the baby is born). Have it checked out at your local fire station to see if it’s installed correctly. Most fire stations have individuals who specialize in car seat installation.
You also need to know safe driving tips and car seat requirements for each age. The safety of your child depends on them being in the correct car seat until they met the minimum height and weight requirements for the next type of seat.
Miscellaneous Concerns and Solutions
Having some of the major areas of the home and car covered is quite a feat, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everything is safe and secure. There are a dozen smaller areas around the home that pose potential safety concerns for new parents and young children.
It’s a good idea to add these miscellaneous areas to any newborn safety checklist.
#6 – Pets and Babies
Many new parents have been parents before their first child arrives — for pets. Parents who have household pets before welcoming a baby into the world have another list of concerns and potential worries.
Dogs and young children can have a wonderful relationship, but they should never be left alone together. Dogs can feel threatened or overly playful with young children, and that can result in bites or other injuries.
Cats also present potential risks for babies. Cats have been known to sneak into a baby’s room and fall asleep on their heads and faces. This, obviously, presents a suffocation risk. It’s best practice to ensure the room the baby sleeps in can’t be accessed by the cat.
#7 – Furniture Falls
The household TV presents another injury risk. It’s not often thought of, but TVs can and have fallen onto young children resulting in injury or death. It’s a good idea to mount or secure the TV to the wall. This helps ensure a child can’t bump or pull the TV onto themselves.
Other large pieces of furniture can be secured in a similar way to avoid potential falls or injury.
#8 – Watch the Temperature
Newborns and infants are very sensitive to temperature. Monitor and make sure that there’s a comfortable and safe temperature throughout the house. Experts recommend a temperature between 65 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit.
Not only does this temperature range help ensure a good night’s sleep for everyone, but it has been shown to help minimize the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
#9 – Fireplace Issues
Homes with fireplaces need to take the extra step to babyproof the household fireplace. The best way to minimize a child’s contact with the fireplace is to limit their ability to physically get near it.
When the fireplace is in use, place the child in a fenced area of the room. When the fireplace isn’t in use, consider blocking it off safely so a child isn’t able to play in or near it.
#10 – Outlets and Cleaning Supplies
Electrical outlets are another big area of concern for children. Young children have been known to stick objects into those outlets, resulting in shocks. These shocks are never fun but can result in serious injury, and in extreme cases, death.
Purchase outlet covers and install them on all outlets. Even outlets that aren’t super visible or accessible should be covered to ensure there are no accidents or mishaps.
#11 – Sharp Corners
A lot of furniture pieces have sharp corners. More often than not, these corners are at the perfect height to injure the head and face of young children. The best way to combat these potential risks is to add furniture padding or corner covers.
These items can be purchased and installed easily, and they will give new parents that extra peace of mind.
#12 – Door Safety
Young children can easily get their fingers shut or pinched in doors around the house. This is not only painful but can also be very serious. Consider purchasing pinch guards to limit the risk of smashed fingers.
The safety of our children is first and foremost in all parents’ minds. New parents are even more concerned with how their little one will function in and around the home. As you prepare for the arrival of your first bundle of joy, make sure to check off the safety issues around your home and in your car. You’ll sleep better at night and, with a newborn, sleep is priceless.
Laura Gunn writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, AutoInsurance.org. She is the mother to two young boys and is passionate about all parents understanding the safety concerns at home.