No parent is perfect, and accidents can happen. Close calls with hot coffee mugs or loose change are inevitably going to scare the life out of us—but there's a lot we can do to help prevent them.
When our little ones start getting on the move, it's the right time to do a full check of baby safety at home to keep everyone safe. So get down on the ground—on your little one's level—and see what looks fun and adventurous. Make sure it's their play mat or blocks and not your phone charger or random paper clips on the ground.
We've rounded up 25 important safety reminders—from keeping your child's crib safe to teething tips, and everything in between.
Room, crib, and sleep safety tips
1. Electronics with cords (i.e. monitor, sound machine, etc.)
- Never place the monitor or sleep machine on the edge or inside the bed.
- Always make sure cords are at least three feet away from the crib.
- Similarly, make sure all cords from blinds and shades are tied up and out of reach.
- Pillows, blankets, quilts, wedges, bumpers should not be in your infant's crib according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Most experts agree that a blanket and pillow poses little risk to healthy children over 12 months.
- Your child's mattress should be firm.
3. Toys and stuffed animals
- Keep these items out of baby's crib. You may introduce safe stuffed animals in the crib after six months according to Dr. Karen Sadler, a Boston-based pediatrician.
4. Sleep positions
- Always place your baby down on his or her back for their sleep sessions to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Once they are able to roll over they can switch sleep positions on their own, and you can leave them how they position themselves.
5. Crib specifics
- Make sure your crib is current, up-to-date, and meets all safety standards of the CPSC, Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association, and the ASTM International.
- To prevent your baby's head from getting caught, be sure the slats are no more than 2-3/8 inches apart.
- Keep the mattress low if your baby is mobile.
- Never use lead-based paint on furniture.
6. Room temperature
- Keep your home/baby's room around 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. (The temperature will be a little warmer in the summer; 75-78 degrees.)
- When chillier weather arrives, if you are worried about warmth try out a sleep sack instead of a blanket.
House safety tips from The International Association for Child Safety
- Paper clips, push pins, pens/pencils, batteries, loose change, etc.—all random materials that could present a dangerous situation should be picked up and put in a safe area.
- Good rule of thumb, if something is small enough to fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is a choking hazard.
8. Furniture and stairs
- Make sure bookcases, bureaus—anything capable of tipping over onto your child—are securely fastened to the wall.
- Never put furniture, large toys (anything your child is able to climb) near bannisters, railings—anything that your child could climb up and over.
- Place corner protectors on sharp edges such as coffee tables.
- Install gates to block off stairs.
9. Bathroom items
- Never leave bathroom trash cans out; make sure they are secured in a locked cabinet. There could be razors, small choking hazards, old medicines, and other dangerous items.
- Get a toilet lock.
- Be sure medicine is securely put away.
- The dishwasher contains sharp utensils, and sometimes detergent pods. Detergent pods look like something yummy to eat to little ones and are extremely dangerous. Read more from Motherly's co-founder Jill on why these should be eliminated from your home.
11. Cleaning products
- Make sure you have a secure, hard-to-reach place to store your cleaning products and any toxic solutions.
- They should be locked up so that even if your little one was to find the spot, they couldn't access them.
- Same goes for any alcohol you may keep in the house.
12. Chargers and electronics
- To prevent strangulation or any electricity mishaps, make sure all chargers are unplugged when not in use, and out of reach of your children.
- Never allow electronics near water.
13. Pet foods, water bowls, kitty litter
- Be sure these items or put away when baby is around, or in a gated area to prevent any choking or drowning hazards.
- Our children are curious and once they're mobile they can easily get their hands on almost anything if not locked up and secure.
- Who needs tablecloths anyway? Yes, they are very chic, however, a little one on the go could easily reach and pull the tablecloth (along with whatever is on top of it) down.
Health and bathing safety tips
15. Fevers and medication
- Normal temp. -- between 97.5°F (36.4°C) and 99.5°F (37.5°C).
- Fever -- most pediatricians consider a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C) as a sign of a fever.
- "A fever is usually caused by infections from viruses (such as a cold or the flu) or bacteria (such as strep throat or some ear infections). The fever itself is not the disease, only a sign that the body's defenses are trying to fight an infection."
- Digital multiuse thermometer (can be used rectally, orally, or axillary.)
- Temporal artery (used on the side of the forehead)
- Tympanic (used in the ear)
- "If your child is older than 6 months and has a fever, she probably does not need to be treated for the fever unless she is uncomfortable. Watch her; if she is drinking, eating, sleeping normally, and is able to play, you should wait to see if the fever improves by itself and do not need to treat."
- How to improve fever: keep the room cool, dress your child in light clothing, encourage him/her to drink fluids, don't let them overexert themselves, and check with your pediatrician before giving medicine.
- "Acetaminophen andibuprofen are safe and effective medicines if used as directed for improving your child's comfort, and they may also decrease the fever." (Do not give a child under 6 months ibuprofen. Never give your child Aspirin.)
- Call your pediatrician if your child is younger than 3 months (12 weeks) and has a temperature of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher, or the fever rises above 104°F (40°C) repeatedly for a child of any age. Read more about specific scenarios in which you should notify your pediatrician right away.
- Vaccines are safe; The United States' long-standing vaccine safety system ensures that vaccines are as safe as possible.
- Some side effects may occur, and most are very minor (soreness where the shot was given, fussiness, or a low-grade fever). These side effects typically only last a couple of days and are treatable.
- Vaccines can prevent infectious diseases and these disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children.
- Be sure your pediatrician understands the schedule you would like to follow for your child.
- Read more information on frequently asked questions about infant vaccines from the CDC.
17. Teething and medication
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following to help soothe a teething baby:
- Clean, wet washcloths
- Frozen bananas
- Refrigerated teething rings
- Topical over-the-counter teething gels can also be used
18. Snot removal
- Gently use a rubber suction bulb syringe, or our favorite booger buster, the Nose Frida to safely remove mucus so your child can breathe better.
19. Burns, cuts, injuries
- Do not ice or rub the burn.
- Cool first and second degree burns with cool running water. Cool third degree burns with wet, sterile dressings until you seek further help.
- After the burn has cooled, cover it loosely with a dry bandage or clean cloth.
- Do not put medical ointment on a burn.
20. Poison, choking
- If you are concerned about your baby's breathing, if they are unconscious, or convulsing/seizing always call 9-1-1 immediately.
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if your child has come in contact with poison and has mild or no symptoms, call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222.
- For specific tips on skin poison, eye poison, poisonous fumes, etc. please see more at the AAP.
- According to the Mayo Clinic, to dislodge something your child is choking on, "Hold your baby facedown on one of your forearms. The baby's head should be lower than his or her body. Then thump your baby firmly on the middle of the back using the heel of your other hand. The combination of gravity and the force from your hand will help dislodge the object that's blocking your baby's airway."
- Choking prevention: take a infant CPR class.
- Never, ever leave your baby unattended in or near the bath. Children can drown in less than an inch of water.
- Good tip: Put your cell phone away when you're bathing your children to prevent dangerous distractions
- 2 to 4 inches of water is sufficient.
- Make sure the water is lukewarm; test with your elbow before putting your baby in.
- Make sure the bathroom itself is warm enough so baby doesn't get chilly.
- Add a rubber mat to the tub to prevent slips.
- Set your water heater at 120 degrees F. It only takes three seconds to get third degree burns from water at 140 degrees F.
Car seat safety tips
- Find your local car seat technician or see if your local police or fire department installs car seats and make an appointment.
- Infants must ride in a rear facing seat until they are two years old.
- Car seat should never be placed in the front seat.
- There must be adequate space in the vehicle for the seat to be reclined at the proper angle according to the car seat manual. Newborns should normally be reclined somewhere between a 30 and 45-degree angle.
- Never put a rear-facing child in front of an air bag.
24. Buckling and chest clip
- Secure harness straps at or slightly below shoulder level in one of the lowest slots, snugly against the body. The chest clip should be secured at armpit level.
25. Temperature tips
- On warm days, be sure to check the metal parts of your child's car seat in order to prevent any burns.
- On cold days, be sure not to bundle your child up in snowsuits, jackets, or wrapping blankets around them before buckling them up. Buckle baby up first, and then cover with a blanket if desired.
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