Tib’s Tips: Safety First
As a new or expectant parent, you may have already realized that there is a lot of information and parenting advice readily available to you. There is so much information, in fact, that you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. When my first granddaughter arrived on the scene, I couldn’t believe how much information and products were available for new moms today. I asked my daughter, who is a master of social media, electronic gadgets, apps, and Internet searches, how in the world did she sort through it all. She said, “But mom, the search is half the fun!” Even so, narrowing the focus initially to three big but basic areas, like sleep, bath, and car, might get your cyber search off to a successful launch.
Since Rome wasn’t built in a day, you’ll most likely select baby gear, like cribs, car seats, high chairs, and infant tubs, one piece at a time, and as you prepare your home and car for your new little bundle of joy, you might find it easiest to focus on one area at a time. Start by thinking through a safe sleep environment for your baby, bath safety, and car seat safety. Then, you’ll be ready for your baby’s arrival and you’ll be able to keep him or her safe through each age and stage!
Crib and sleep safety standards have changed considerably in recent years. Here are some highlights of the latest safety standards.
Avoid using a drop side crib. The manufacture and sale of drop-side cribs is prohibited as of June 28, 2011. When choosing a crib in preparation for your new baby, whether you opt to accept a hand-me-down, purchase a resale crib, or buy a new model, make sure that your baby’s crib meets the newest safety standards. Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Crib Information Center for the latest standards.
Inspect your child’s crib. Check to make sure that the crib is secure with no peeling paint, exposed hardware, or splinters before you tuck your baby in for the first time. Continue to check your child’s crib regularly, especially when he or she starts teething since both my kids found crib railings to be tasty teethers.
Keep the crib free of other objects. Speaking of tucking your baby in, save the tucking-in with sheets, cozy blankets, and cuddly stuffed animals for your older child. The most that your infant needs is a sleeper to keep him or her cozy for naps and nighttime. Even those sweet, stuffed animals, extra blankets, and coordinating crib bumpers present suffocation risks, so when in doubt, leave it out!
I don’t think there is anything like that freshly cleaned baby smell. Make sure that your baby stays safe during bath time by keeping a few tips in mind.
Never leave your baby unattended in the tub. Even if there are only a few inches of water filling the tub and you feel tugged to step away for a brief second, it is much better to play it safe. Nothing drawing your attention away, even for a second, is worth the risk. Be sure to also drain the tub whenever it is not in use. Of all the tragedies that tug at my heart when working with young parents, the loss of a child to drowning in bath water is particularly heartbreaking because it is almost always unintentional and so preventable.
Test the water temperature before placing your baby in the water. Each time you give your baby a bath, you need to make sure that the water temperature is no higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You can either purchase a bath water thermometer or use your elbow to make sure that the water is lukewarm and comfortable for your baby.
Keep electrical appliances unplugged or away from the tub. Eliminate the risk of any accidental shock by making sure that appliances, like curling irons, hairdryers, or hair straighteners, are unplugged or completely out of reach of your baby’s busy little hands.
Never leave your child alone in a car. To keep your child safe while running errands or taking a trip, remember to never leave him or her unattended in the car—especially during the warm summer months.
Always follow the car seat safety requirements. Infants and toddlers should ride in the backseat in either an infant or convertible car seat, rear-facing, until the age of two. Toddlers over the age of two and preschoolers should remain in the backseat in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they outgrow the height or weight recommendations for your car seat.
I know that this is a lot to keep straight and it probably only answers a handful of the questions you have. But remember that good parenting is part instinct and part knowing when to reach out for support. The New Parent Support Program on your local installation can help you work through any of your baby questions or concerns, regardless of whether this is your first or third baby! To locate the NPSP on your installation, you can call your installation operator. You can also find contact information by visiting MilitaryINSTALLATIONS. Just select “New Parent Support Program” in the “Looking for a specific program or service” box.
Best of luck, health, and happiness to you and your family during your parenting adventures!
Mary Campise, LICSW, is a senior program analyst with the Family Advocacy and New Parent Support Program, Office of Family Programs/Children and Youth, Military Community & Family Policy, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. She shares responsibility of the policy oversight for prevention and intervention programs addressing child abuse and neglect and domestic abuse in military families. She has worked with military families for nineteen years and has been a military spouse for twenty-five years.