Did you know that injuries are the leading cause of death among babies? Do your best to prevent them by closely supervising your baby and babyproofing your home.
Most babies pull up to stand by nine to twelve months and crawl earlier than that. You want to get hazardous items out of their way! If you are able, the best time to babyproof is before your baby is born. But if you are like many people, there are hundreds of other things to do, and you plan to work on babyproofing “later.”
In a perfect world, we could watch our babies constantly and prevent accidents before they happen. Of course, this is impossible. Once, my husband and I were standing and talking right next to our toddler son when he decided to explore the bush next to us: we didn’t realize he was going to climb it. He quickly discovered the limb wouldn’t hold him and fell flat on his head. We had thought we were supervising him well, but we looked away briefly and an accident happened.
With babies, bumps and bruises are inevitable, but parents must stay vigilant to protect their children from preventable injuries. Babyproofing is as important as vaccinating or taking care of a sick child! There are many items available for babyproofing, and every home is different. I’ll cover some of the basics to help prevent injuries in the first year of life.
A mobile baby should not be left alone to wander in any room unsupervised. For example, if you take a shower, take the baby into the bathroom with you and shut the door. It is easier to haul your baby with you than to wonder if she is in harm’s way in a different room. If your baby has a play yard that is impossible to penetrate, it is OK to leave the room briefly, but she should not be left for long periods in her play yard without being checked on. She could injure herself with a toy she is playing with or crawl out of the play yard. Be there to prevent accidents.
Cords can cause strangulation or electrocution and should not be present where a baby can reach them from the counter or a table. Most blinds now are made without cords, but cords on older mini-blinds should be clipped and out of the baby’s reach.
Outlet covers prevent electrocution and should be placed in all visible outlets. Or place a large piece of furniture in front of the outlet, as many toddlers can remove outlet covers.
Do not use the gates that pop into the wall; a little pressure pops them right out. Safety gates at the top of stairs should be anchored to the wall.
Walk around your home. Are there any objects a baby or toddler can reach and choke on such as coins, batteries or small plastic toys? If so, move them to a place he can’t get them. Are there any large objects, such as an unsecured piece of furniture, that he can pull down onto himself? Furniture that may fall on a baby if he pulls up on it should be removed or secured to the wall.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be placed near each room your family sleeps in, in the family gathering area (den or living room), and on every floor of your home. Do not rely on the devices to beep if they aren’t working properly: test them once a month to ensure that they work.
If your baby ingests anything potentially toxic, call The Poison Help Line immediately at 1-800-222-1222. Babies can look normal after a poisoning but get very sick later. Don’t be embarrassed to call the number and give information: a The Poison Help Line’s goal is to save lives and protect people from serious illness, not to judge you.
Ask family members to learn it, too. You can check with your local hospital or doctor to find nearby places to learn CPR. Some employers offer CPR courses in the workplace.
Go over the plan with adults, and keep a copy of it in your child medical kit and on the refrigerator for reference. Adults and older children should know how to get out of windows in their rooms. For two-story homes, consider purchasing drop ladders for the windows that fit under each bed. It’s worth the investment to have peace of mind that you can easily escape if trapped upstairs.
For more information:
To learn more about babyproofing your home and preventing accidents and injuries as your child grows up, see the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) safety guidelines at http://www.cdc.gov/safechild/