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Published on September 05, 2012

Baby Safety Month

by Renee Tereshinski, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services Avera Sacred Heart Hospital

The first year of an infant’s life is exciting and joyous. However, it can also be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone taking on the caregiver role. One of the most important aspects to be aware of when caring for a baby is safety. September is Baby Safety Month, and I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few important areas of baby safety.

Newborn Safety:
When a baby is born, they spend the majority of their days sleeping. Remember to place them BACK TO SLEEP to help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Here are a few other important sleeping safety points:

  • The mattress needs to be firm, and there should be tight fitting sheets placed on it.
  • There should be no soft bedding, positioners, stuffed animals or crib bumper pads that could suffocate an infant if they would become wedged against them.
  • Crib slats should be secure and no more than 2 3/8 inches apart, or the size of a soda can.
  • Drop side cribs should not be used.
  • Sleep sacks are wearable blankets that are a safer option that loose comforters.
  • Room sharing in a bassinette or crib is also a safer option than having a baby sleep in the bed with you.
  • Don’t place a baby on a soft adult bed, couch, chair or car seat to sleep unless directed by your baby’s doctor.
  • To prevent choking, remove the drawstrings from hooded clothing. Learn CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver for Infants.

Babies on the GO:
Parents and caregivers can help keep babies who are constantly on the move safe, especially when they are in and around vehicles.

  • Learn how to properly install the car seat and have it checked by a certified child passenger safety technician.
  • Recent American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations state that children need to be left in the rear-facing position as long as possible, at least until their 2nd birthday.  Utilize the height and weight limits until your child meets them. The old rule of “20 lbs and 12 months” to turn the seat forward facing is actually now the minimum recommended requirements.
  • Cars are NOT playgrounds. Often, children play in areas surrounded by vehicles. Be very cautious about front over and back over incidents that could injure or kill children. Walk completely around your vehicle and check underneath before moving it when children are around.
  • Never leave a child alone in a vehicle, not even when a window is open.  Children left in hot vehicles will increase their body temp three to five times faster than an adult. If you ever see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911. When driving with children, place a purse or bag by the child so you will have to open their door and won’t forget them if they are quiet or asleep.
  • Always lock the trunk and vehicle doors, especially when at home, so kids cannot become entrapped in a vehicle.
    Babies at Play: At this stage in life, suffocation and choking when at play is the most significant issue to address. Supervise your baby when they are at play. Get down on the child’s level and remove the cords and hazardous items that could possibly end up in their mouths when crawling.   Use age appropriate toys, and make sure to read the warning labels and watch for any recalls on a particular toy. Refer to  for updates on toy and equipment recalls.

Babies at Home:
Burn awareness is very important.

  • Check water temperatures before placing an infant in the bath by placing your inner wrist or elbow in the water.
  • Avoid microwaves to heat formula or milk as there can be hidden hot spots that will scald an infant’s mouth and throat.
  • Do not carry hot water or beverages when holding a baby.
  • Cover unused electrical outlets and place barriers around ovens, fireplaces and furnaces.

Even if you don’t have a pool, drowning prevention in the home is also very important.

  • Keep toilet lids shut. If needed, there are toilet lid locks available.
  • Empty buckets and wading pools immediately after use and store them upside down.
  • When bathing an infant, keep your hand on the baby and NEVER leave them unattended in a tub or near sinks.
  • Remember, infants can drown in seconds and in less than an inch of water.

Falls are very common in the infants who insist on standing and walking before they are one year old.

  • Do not place chairs or cribs near windows.
  • Secure heavy furniture by using wall anchors or braces.
  • Utilize a safety gate for every stairway in your home.
  • Strap infants into highchairs, infant car seats, carriers, swings and strollers.
  • Avoid baby walkers with wheels.
    Fire prevention is important for everyone in the family.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area.
  • Bedrooms should have an alarm as well.
  • Alarms need to be tested once a month.
  • Create and practice a fire escape plan and designate one person to get an infant out of the home in case of a fire.
    Poison prevention is also a key to a safe home for the entire family.
  • Read all labels and follow the instructions when giving medications to children.
  • Keep medications out of reach in the original child-resistant containers.
  • Household products should be kept out of sight from children or behind a locked cabinet.
  • Learn the Poison Control phone number (1-800-222-1222).
  • Every home should install a carbon monoxide (CO) detector on every level of their house and test these once a month.
  • Remember not to run a car engine in a closed garage, even to warm it up. It should first be moved outside.

Baby safety is always very important. Taking these quick steps to ensure baby safety will help you enjoy this exciting time.