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Health & Baby

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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
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