As a home safety educator, I go out into the community and teach home safety workshops to expectant moms, new parents, grandmas and grandpas, daycare workers, and basically anyone who will lend me their ears so that I may impart my knowledge and wisdom about baby-proofing their homes. My knowledge comes from continuously educating myself on this subject. My wisdom comes from being a mom who didn’t know about a lot of safety recommendations at the time when my son was a baby, and am therefore quite thankful my child made it through those years (relatively) unscathed. September is Baby Safety Month so I am shouting from the rooftops my tips on best safety practices that will hopefully bring you both knowledge and wisdom about keeping babies safe.
Please follow the ABCs of safe sleep: ALONE, on the BACK, in the CRIB. All those stuffed animals, fluffy pillows, and fleecy blankets are so cute, but pose a great risk to infants in their cribs. Mattresses and fitted sheets need to be snug and never use bumper pads. Do not use cribs with drop down sides as they can be a suffocation hazard.
Falls cover a lot of territory and cause many trips to the emergency room. Anchor furniture like dressers, bookshelves, and tvs to the wall to prevent tip overs. Keep floors and stairs clear of items to prevent tripping. Never place infant car seat carriers on a table or countertop. Never place furniture near windows. Use window locks or wedges because windows are enticing and these can prevent a baby from falling out.
A car seat should be chosen based on the height and weight of the child. It should also be installed correctly according to manufacturer instructions. If you are unsure about the installation of your car seat drive to one of many fitting stations around middle Tennessee and certified car seat technicians will be glad to train you in proper installations.
Choking and Poisoning
Keep all soaps, cleaners, toiletries, and detergents stored in a high place or locked in a cabinet away from baby’s reach. Many items look like something to eat or drink; make sure your baby doesn’t ingest mouthwashes, soap pods, laxatives, or other attractive-looking items. Never leave any medications out including vitamins which can contribute to poisoning. Many foods have the potential for choking including grapes, nuts, popcorn, hot dogs, and hard candy; provide your baby with soft food that is easily chewed and swallowed.
Set your water heater at no higher than 120 degrees to prevent scalds and burns. Never leave your baby alone in the bathtub and make sure all water is drained after their bath. Empty buckets and secure the toilet lid with a latch- even the smallest amount of water can lead to drowning. Keep the bathroom door closed.
When my teenage son was a baby we had several visits to the emergency room because of a fall on some stairs, a berry he shoved up his nose, and a cheerio he stuck in his ear. I cried tears to the pediatrician because I knew these injuries could have been prevented through simple steps I could have taken as a parent. Instead of berating me for what felt like many mistakes, he used it as an opportunity for me to begin that long process of educating myself about safety in my home in order to learn what was predictable and preventable so that my little guy could remain injury-free. And through my mistakes you have the opportunity to learn more about home safety.
Written by GiGi Rose, a West Virginia native who has called Nashville home for 25 years. Her professional background is in program coordination and community outreach.