How to Outfox Your Baby
How to Outfox Your Baby
Take it from Sarah O'Meara, a mother of three: accidents take only seconds.
When her first child was around 3 months old, she was changing his diaper, and
because he wasn't moving around much at that age, she didn't strap him onto the
changing table. She let go for just a moment to grab something, and boom, he
hit the floor.
Fortunately the baby wasn't hurt. "But it was really frightening, just
to hear that thump on the floor," O'Meara recalls. The experience was
enough to turn her into a die-hard changing-table strapper. "I thought he
was too little to roll over, but it's the same old story -- they always roll
over when you think they can't."
O'Meara and her baby boy were lucky. Nearly 800 babies died in accidents in
1997, and thousands wound up in hospital emergency rooms, according to the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And when an accident sends a baby
under 6 months to the ER, it's most likely to have been a fall.
The message from doctors and other safety experts: no matter how young your
baby is, it's not too early to begin thinking about safety measures and
One Step Ahead
"The key to preventing injuries in pediatrics is anticipatory guidance
-- thinking about the event before it ever occurs," says Dr. Flaura Coplin
Winston, director of TraumaLink at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and
University of Pennsylvania.
Sure, you have a few months before your infant is mobile enough to open
cabinets and pull down furniture, but don't wait to protect your infant. Even
before your baby is born, you can:
- Get a secure, rear-facing car seat
- Make sure your crib and bedding meet safety guidelines
- Start thinking about safety hot spots by conducting a room-by-room survey
of your house.
Dr. Winston even suggests a "baby-safety shower" for new parents so
they're stocked with the basics from day one, including:
- cabinet and drawer latches
- window and faucet guards
- electrical outlet covers
- baby gates
- toilet locks
- padding and anti-tip devices for furniture
Don't be afraid to return baby gifts from well-meaning friends if the items
pose a safety hazard. One notorious example is the baby walker, the use of
which is discouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Half of all babies
who use walkers are injured, typically from falls or because they can navigate
to heavy or hot objects before a parent is able to run to the rescue.
Many experts also caution against using bath rings since babies can slide
out and drown -- even in two inches of water. Another bath tip: babies have
thinner skin than older children or adults, so test the water temperature first
with your elbow, which is more sensitive than a finger, says Dr. Winston. Swish
the water to get a sample underneath.
For more information on new or used products that may be unsafe or recalled,
visit the Consumer Products Safety Commission's Web site or call its toll-free
number at (800) 638-2772. The National Safe Kids Campaign also provides fact
sheets on child safety on its Web site.