The desire to protect our young is there from the moment they are born. For mothers, it begins the moment we find out we are pregnant. We change what we eat, drink, and the medicines we take all to ensure the health and safety of our baby. Parents spend the whole pregnancy researching how to create a safe nursery, car seat safety, and proper diets. We spend their entire toddler years helicoptering over them to ensure that they aren’t in danger. Although our intentions are always to keep them safe, sometimes we do things that can actually worsen the situation and make it more dangerous for our children. So today, we are going to break down some of the common but dangerous mistakes parents make at each developmental stage.
Baby Safety – Newborns
Back to Sleep
Parents underestimate the importance of placing their child on their back to go to sleep. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a very real and tragic event that occurs in newborns. Losing a child to SIDS is a horrifying event for a parent, made worse by the fact that there is no known cause that can explain why a baby dies for no apparent reason. Placing your child to sleep on their back significantly reduces the chance of a fatal event.
Bumpers on Cribs
Many parents question me about the newest recommendations of removing bed bumpers from cribs. There is a valid concern that if bed bumpers are removed, there is an increased risk of babies suffering an injured limb.
Although we haven’t seen a huge increase in the number of crib injuries since the recommendation was released, the risk does exist. However, the minor bumps and bruises that may occur are injuries that are relatively easy to treat.
Unfortunately the suffocation or strangulation risk from the ties and cushions of bed bumpers are usually fatal. Breathable bed bumpers are a great way to help lessen the risk of limb injuries.
Baby Safety – Infants
Crush injuries can be very serious and possibly fatal. Make sure that all the furniture is anchored to the ground or wall. As infants start to explore and become more independent, they love to climb on furniture. It is important that you eliminate the possibility of the furniture piece falling onto them.
When picking organizational boxes for your nursery, make sure to use soft options. If your child grabs and pulls them down, there is less of a chance of them getting injured.
As our infants begin to explore new foods and develop new teeth, we can overestimate their ability to chew. It is imperative that you know and avoid the “fatal foods” and cut food appropriately.
In addition, never give a child a snack while traveling in a car, especially if the child is in a rear-facing car seat. Your inability to see your child combined with the distraction of driving is a deadly combination. Although a snack may be an appealing solution to a fussy infant, it can be a dangerous and even deadly mistake.
Avoid these foods with your infant or young toddler:
- Hot dogs
- Nuts and seeds
- Chunks of meat or cheese
- Whole grapes
- Hard or sticky candy
- Peanut butter
- Raw vegetables and apples
Baby Safety – Toddlers
Overestimating Your Child’s Ability to Swim
Growing up in Florida, we start giving our children swimming lessons very early on in life. I know a lot of families that have started as early as 6 months old.
However, the American Board of Pediatrics does not recommend formal swimming lessons for children under the age of 1 or water-survival skills programs for infants.
Although the infant water-survival skills make compelling videos for the internet, there is no scientific study that these classes are effective. Children are not able to learn to swim until the age of 3.
But does this mean your child should not have swim lessons until the age of 3?
Every child develops differently. If your child shows interest and is emotionally ready, then you should give them lessons. However, it is important to understand that no matter how well they swim, they can panic and forget their skills within seconds. Any swimming child that is under the age of 4 must be within arm’s reach of an adult at all times.
Positioning Your Infant’s Car Seat Facing Forward Early
The bones that protect the spine, the vertebrae, do not fuse until 3-to-6 years of age. This is why rear-facing car seats are so important. Rear-facing gives more support and protection to the underdeveloped vertebrae and spinal cord. A forward facing child has a greater chance of damage to the spinal cord when their head and neck whip forward and back in a crash.
The AAP now advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats as long as possible, until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. The new recommendations remove any age restrictions to allow for rear-facing as long as possible. In fact, some states have even created laws which require your child be a certain weight or age to use a forward-facing car seat.
*Please check your state or local laws to be sure you are complying!
Parenting is hard at any stage. Raising our little humans is always our top priority, so avoiding these top potentially deadly mistakes should also be a priority. Keep those babies safe through all the ages and stages of development!