How to Keep Your Baby or Toddler Safe
Keeping your baby safe isn't difficult, but you do have to pay careful attention at all times. The following tips review some of the basics.
Strap your baby into a child safety seat in the car's back seat. Be sure the child safety seat is properly secured with the vehicle's seat belt or attached to the appropriate safety bars. Follow the manufacturer's directions and check your car owner's manual to be sure you are installing the car seat properly.
Never put a child safety seat in the front seat of a car.
As your child grows into a toddler, be sure to follow the child safety seat instructions based on your child's height and weight.
Be sure the stroller's locking mechanism is engaged before putting the baby in the stroller.
Always use safety straps or seat belts.
Make sure the baby's crib is sturdy and has no loose or missing hardware. This will help keep the baby from suffocating or strangling by becoming trapped between broken crib parts. Avoid older or antique cribs that might have too wide of spacing between the slats.
Keep the baby away from windows. Install window guards if the baby's room is above the first floor.
Be sure the crib and changing table aren't painted with lead paint. Use a lead-paint tester kit (available at hardware stores) on furniture if you're not sure.
Here are recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how to reduce the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sleep-related deaths from birth to age 1:
Place your infant on his or her back for sleep or naps. This can decrease the risk for SIDS, aspiration, and choking. Never place your baby on his or her side or stomach for sleep or naps. If your baby is awake, allow your child time on his or her tummy as long as you are supervising, to encourage appropriate motor development.
Always talk with your baby's doctor about sleeping positions if he or she has been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux. Do not elevate the head of the bed
Consider offering your baby a pacifier for sleeping or naps, if he or she isn't breastfed. If breastfeeding, delay introducing a pacifier until breastfeeding has been firmly established.
Use a firm mattress (covered by a tightly fitted sheet) to prevent gaps between the mattress and the sides of a crib, a play yard, or a bassinet. This can decrease the risk for entrapment, suffocation, and SIDS.
Share your room instead of your bed with your baby. Putting your baby in bed with you raises the risk for strangulation, suffocation, entrapment, and SIDS. Bed sharing is not recommended for twins or other higher multiples.
Avoid using infant seats, car seats, strollers, infant carriers, and infant swings for routine sleep and daily naps. These may lead to obstruction of an infant's airway or suffocation.
Avoid using illicit drugs and alcohol, and don't smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
Avoid overbundling, overdressing, or covering an infant's face or head. This will prevent him or her from getting overheated, reducing the risks for SIDS.
Avoid using loose bedding or soft objects—bumper pads, pillows, comforters, blankets—in an infant's crib or bassinet to help prevent suffocation, strangulation, entrapment, or SIDS.
Do not rely on cardiorespiratory monitors to prevent SIDS. Avoid commercial wedges, positioners, and special mattresses that are advertised as helping decrease the risk for SIDS and sleep-related infant deaths.
Always place cribs, bassinets, and play yards in hazard-free areas—those with no dangling cords or wires—to reduce the risk for strangulation.
Keep medicines, vitamins, and soap where the baby can't reach them. Buy medicines with child safety caps.
Never leave your baby alone in a bathtub.
Always check the bath water temperature with your hand before putting your baby into the tub. This will help prevent burns and scalds. Also consider purchasing antiscald devices for your faucets. Adjust your water heater so that the maximum temperature is not higher than 120°F (48.8°C)
Don't leave your baby alone in a highchair. Always use the safety straps.
If possible, keep children out of the kitchen while you are using the stove or oven.
Use your stove's back burners and keep pot handles turned to the back of the stove.
Don't use tablecloths that children can reach. They might pull down hot foods or liquids on themselves.
Keep cleaning products, knives, matches, and plastic bags out of reach. If you store them under the sink, put a child safety latch on the cabinet.
Keep sharp objects off the floor and out of your baby's reach.
Put safety plugs in wall sockets.
Don't let electric cords dangle where the baby can reach them.
Use safety gates to block off stairs, so the baby can't crawl on them.
Don't let the baby play with small toys that could be swallowed.
Don't leave the baby alone.
Lock doors that go outside, to stairs, or to garages.
If you have a fireplace or plugged-in space heater, make sure the baby can't get to either one.