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Health and Safety, Birth to 2 Years - Safety Measures Around the Home

From birth to age 2, children depend on parents and other caregivers for their safety. Safety issues change and increase rapidly in number as newborns grow into toddlers.

You can help protect your child from accidents and injuries by taking general safety measures around your home. Think ahead about what potentially dangerous situations will attract your child. Supervise your child, but keep in mind that constant hovering over children can limit their experiences and confidence. Balancing supervision with safety precautions will help prevent accidents and injuries, as well as allow children to explore.

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The following are common accidents and injuries that can occur around the house and some suggestions on how to prevent them.

Baby products

In the United States, safety standards for children's equipment, furniture, clothing, and other items are set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Although most new items you buy will likely meet these standards, older and used items may not. Equipment that has been used before, such as a baby carrier, may not be safe. These items may have wear and tear that affects how they function. The CPSC may also have recalled some items because of reported hazards.

Check that all the products your baby uses meet current standards. The following list provides safety information for items frequently used by children up to age 2:1

  • Cribs should meet all current safety standards, such as having less than 2.4 in. (60 mm) of space between slats. Don't use sleep positioners or bumper pads.
  • Baby walkers should not be used, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children can fall down stairs and get hurt. An activity center is a better choice.
  • Playpens should have spaces in the mesh material that do not exceed 0.25 in. (0.6 cm) across. Wooden slats should measure less than 2.4 in. (60 mm) apart. Be careful about the toys you put in the playpen. As your children grow, they can get tangled in mobiles or may use larger toys as steps to boost them out of the enclosure.
  • High chairs should have a wide, stable base. Always take time to make sure the high chair is locked in the upright position before use. If you need to use a seat that hooks onto a table, make sure it locks onto the table. And make sure your baby can't push against the table support. Use the safety straps, and supervise your child at all times while he or she is in the high chair.
  • Changing tables should have a railing on all sides that is 2 in. (5.1 cm) high. A slightly indented changing surface is also recommended. Always use the safety strap, and keep one hand on your child. Have diapers and other items handy, but keep them out of your child's reach.

To help you keep track of important safety features, see the topic Nursery Equipment Safety Checklist.

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