As a New Yorker, my mission was to find the warmest yet coolest snowsuit for my 4-month-old son. My mother told me how cozy Cal would be bundled up in the car when the temperature was below freezing. This seemed logical, until a girlfriend shared how car seat baby safety regulations have changed. My mother hasn’t taken care of a baby in nearly 35 years. And while she did one helluva job raising me, according to recent studies on baby safety, she could have easily (and innocently) killed me. Now that Grandma is caring for my son while I work, I am working to empower myself in order to advise her in caring for Cal, as opposed to the other way around. And let’s just say, when it comes to baby safety regulations, times, they have-a changed!

Baby Safety—Sleep

It seems that every few years the recommended sleeping position for a baby changes. Today, babies sleep on their backs. Additional SIDS prevention guidelines include: • Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats, swings, etc. are not recommended for routine sleep • Baby should sleep in the same room as parents, but not co-sleep • Keep soft objects (pillows, blankets, bumper pads, toys) or loose bedding out of the crib • Do not use wedges or positioners • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime • Avoid covering the infant’s head or overheating • Do not use devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS Get additional information here.

Baby Safety—Playtime

Swings In May 2013 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously to approve mandatory safety standards to improve the safety of infant swings in newer products. Products manufactured in prior years may not possess these safety standards. Jumpers The number of recent recalls involving the breakage of clamps has raised serious safety concerns among experts. Additional concerns arise with potential physical developmental effects that can possibly lead to delayed motor skills. Mobile Walkers The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that the U.S. government place a ban on the manufacture and sale of baby walkers with wheels, deeming them unsafe. Additionally, according to the AAP, walkers can delay motor and mental development. Babysaucer The stationary “walker” tends to hold baby’s hips in an extended position and prevents the visual of seeing feet, which is needed when learning how to move. Tummy Time As a new parent the first item to learn is “back to sleep, tummy to play”. Tummy time helps strengthen muscles, improve motor skills, as well as helps prevent the development of flat head. Teething A few recommendations in managing teething pain include: • Massaging with a (clean) finger or simply let baby gnaw • A cold washcloth, spoon or teething ring. Refrigerate only, freezing may cause harm • A frozen bagel, banana, or carrot (for babies who are eating solids) And the don’ts: • Liquid-filled plastic teething rings. Aside from the potential phthalates/BPA presence, there is possible bacterium and concerns about ring leakage • Numbing gels are no longer approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in babies as the ingredient lidocaine may be harmful Hygiene Reports advocate for not bathing baby every day, especially a newborn, as daily bathing can dry baby’s delicate skin.

Baby Safety—Travel

Rear Facing Car Seats The AAP advises parents keep children in rear facing car seats until the age of 2 as research has shown that children under age 2 are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear facing. Winter Coats Experts warn that the usage of “fluff” in order to keep baby warm in a car seat is not safe due to compression making the straps too loose for baby’s body to be held safely in the event of a crash. Car Seat Toys Giving baby something to play with while in the car has the potential of becoming a dangerous projectile in a crash so it is recommended to avoid placing toys, mirrors, etc. in or around a car seat.

Baby Safety—Eating

The AAP advises that if baby is old enough to eat cereal (around 4-6 months) then they are old enough to eat from a spoon as incidents of gagging or inhaling the mixture are increased if baby is not developmentally ready. Exposure to solid foods before baby is ready may put them at risk for developing food allergies, and some believe it increases the chances of “overfeeding”. I am by no means a medical professional. I believe we, as parents, have a responsibility to be informed on all subject matters relating to our children; however, we hold the rights to make what we feel are best decisions. For me, making those decisions are based on understanding the risks, weighing the benefits, and doing a thorough check in with that motherly instinct that resides within. Be empowered!