Skip to content

Health & Baby

Font Size

How to Outfox Your Baby

How to Outfox Your Baby

WebMD Feature

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 baby-proofing.

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

Second-Hand Trouble

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.

Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
Mother with baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
 
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.
 

mother holding baby at night
ARTICLE
mother with sick child
QUIZ
 
baby with pacifier
VIDEO
Track Your Babys Vaccines
TOOL
 
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Slideshow
Woman holding feet up to camera
Article
 
Father kissing newborn baby
Article
baby gear slideshow
Slideshow