It’s easy to get wound up about keeping your baby safe, especially if it’s your first baby. Getting the right balance between vigilance and undue anxiety is tricky. There are definitely plenty of safety concerns that you have to think about as a parent. At the same time, you can’t spend all of your time worrying that something might happen. Of course, taking safety precautions can help to ease your mind, but it’s also easy to get caught up in all of the things you’re supposed to do, and what you’re not meant to do. If you want to keep everything safe for your baby while also remaining sensible, here are some of the things you should be thinking about.
Safe sleep is always one of the big topics for new parents. Because unsafe sleep practices have been linked to SIDS, health and child experts place a lot of emphasis on sleeping safely. Your baby should be on a firm mattress, with no other items in their crib, including blankets. It’s recommended that you wait until their first birthday to have your baby sleep with a blanket. When using a blanket, it should be securely tucked in so that it’s not loose in the crib. Your baby’s feet should be positioned at the bottom of the crib, with the blanket tucked under their arms.
Some parents do choose to cosleep, especially as this can make it easier to handle night feeds. The safest way to do this is often with a side sleeper that attaches to your bed. This gives your baby their own space so that you can keep it safe. For some, safe cosleeping can help to prevent other unsafe practices, such as falling asleep while holding your baby.
Simply deciding when it’s time to start weaning your baby can be difficult. And once you’ve decided it’s time, you need to be careful about possible choking hazards. Food is the most common thing for babies to choke on, but there are plenty of steps you can take to prevent it. Weaning is generally recommended to start no earlier than six months old. When you first start, it’s more about getting your baby used to eating than actually making sure they eat a lot. Some parents prefer to wait until their baby is capable of feeding themselves, allowing them to explore their food at their own pace.
Cutting food up into small pieces can help to prevent choking. This includes things like grapes, which are common choking hazards and should be cut lengthways. Avoid giving your baby hard foods that can easily be swallowed whole. Most importantly, supervise your baby when they’re eating. As well as being safer, it means you get to spend quality time together and can make a habit of eating together.
It’s not long before your baby starts to move around, and babyproofing your home before then is important. There are various hazards in the home that could be risks to your baby’s safety, so addressing them is a must. On the other hand, you can’t prevent all bumps and scrapes. As much as it might be tempting, there’s no need to wrap all of your furniture in bubble wrap. You might want to use corner protectors on tables and other items, though.
Some hazards in your home can be obvious. It makes sense to put gates on the stairs and covers over the electrical outlets. But some other things might not occur to you right away. For example, cords on blinds can be a strangulation hazard. They should be safely tied out of the way or eliminated if possible. Some furniture can tip over if it’s not balanced correctly, especially if you have a toddler with a habit of climbing. These things should be secured so they stay put.
Being able to get out and about with your baby is essential. There are lots of ways to do it, whether you drive, walk, take public transport or even go on a bike ride together. Everyone knows the importance of using an infant car seat, but the specifics of it aren’t always so obvious. Choosing one for the correct weight and size of your baby, fitting it properly, and ensuring you buckle your baby in safely every time is a must. Your baby should be in a rear-facing seat to begin with, and many people advocate for continuing with rear-facing seats for as long as possible.
Baby carriers are another great option for getting around, and they’re useful at home too. But wearing one safely is something to think about. There are certain rules to follow to help prevent suffocation. Keep your baby tight and close, in view, with a supported back, and with their chin off their chest. When you’re wearing your baby in a carrier, be careful when you’re walking to avoid tripping and falling. Hold on to handrails when going up and down stairs.
When your baby is in the stroller, make sure you use the harness to clip them in safely. Always keep at least one hand on the stroller, and put the brake on when you come to a stop or are using public transport.
Babies and toddlers are going to fall over when they start learning to walk and run. However, you can still take steps to help prevent injuries and make sure their falls aren’t too serious. Using a baby gate on the stairs is one thing you can do, but you can also start to teach your toddler how to get up and down (with supervision). When you’re using a highchair, use a harness to keep them strapped in. Keep any low furniture away from windows to prevent climbing, and keep windows locked too. You can also use safety catches to help keep windows closed.
You can’t protect your child from everything, but babies need a lot of help to stay as safe as possible. With the right approach, you can be safe while also remaining sensible.
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