In honor of Baby Safety Month, Hughes & Coleman Lawyers have dedicated our blogs to the topic of keeping babies safe.Thus far, we’ve covered how to keep infants and small children safe from products that could harm them, provided general safety tips, and focused on steps parents can take prior to birth to ensure a safe delivery.
The real work, however, begins as soon as the newborn baby comes home. At first, babies are at the mercy of parents for everything – from safe sleeping arrangements to food. Later, as they grow, it’s a race to keep them from putting themselves in danger. So, in our final blog of the month, we’ll be focusing on keeping babies safe at home.
Strap In for Safety
Baby Safety Month is sponsored annually by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). For nearly thirty years, the month-long event has increased consumer awareness of safety issues and use of safe baby products.
JPMA is a not-for-profit association of around 250 manufacturers that make up 95-percent of the prenatal to preschool products in the U.S. Market. JPMA has highlighted the 2017 Baby Safety Month for strap safety. To view their tips visit their website or visit our September 8th blog on the topic that shared some of their tips and others.
Babyproof a Home
The first known use of the word “babyproof” was in 1881, says Merriam-Webster Dictionary. It’s meaning is readily apparent. It’s something that is baby proof, or “made safe for infants and young children by the elimination or reduction of potential hazards.” But, with parents surviving quite well in their own home without serious injury, it can be difficult for new parents to determine what might pose a hazard to a baby.
The Centers for Disease and Prevention report that for children less than 1 year of age, two-thirds of injury deaths were due to suffocation. Drowning was the leading cause of death and children under 1 had the highest rates of nonfatal falls and poisonings.
“When a baby becomes part of your family, it is time to make sure that your home is a safe place,” said the CDP in a press release. “Look around your home for things that could be dangerous to your baby. As a parent, it is your job to ensure that you create a safe home for your baby.” Nationwide Children’s Hospital also cautioned parents to get to work baby proofing a home. “We all want happy and healthy children. That takes thought and effort every day. When a new baby comes into the home, parents need to protect their infant from harm,” said Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
When to Start
With a newborn in the house, it can seem like a long time before they’ll be crawling around getting into everything.
“Babies become mobile practically overnight, and it’s easier to prepare now than when you’re sleep-deprived later,” warns Parents Magazine. Parents Magazine is a monthly magazine that features scientific information on child development for parents. It has a circulation of over 2 million. They advise doing a room-by-room examination of the whole house, thinking about every possible scenario.
“It may only take you several hours total, and getting it out of the way will give you peace of mind, even though you’ll need to update your efforts as your child grows,” they said.
Get Down On The Baby’s Level
Objects like cleaning supplies, kitchen utensils, and furniture can quickly become a life-threatening object.
“Making a house baby-safe means ensuring that whatever he might try to open, pull on, or play with won’t hurt him,” Parents Magazine said. “The best way to see all the sharp corners and small objects that can potentially harm your baby is to get down on your hands and knees in each room.”
They advise looking around at everyday objects that might become fall hazards to babies as they start learning to walk, as they will be pulling themselves up by using furniture in the house. Objects like TVs can tip off of a unit or the entertainment center if it isn’t secured to the wall. Wires can also be a hazard.
Common Babyproofing Steps
Making a home safe can include the following:
- Install safety gates
- Establish routines near potentially dangerous items (such as only putting detergent in the dishwasher immediately before running it and putting all knives and forks downward in the utensil basket.)
- Place babies on their backs on a firm mattress and avoid using pillows, thick bumpers or soft mattresses that can cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or suffocation.
- Set your hot-water heater below 120 Fahrenheit so the baby isn’t burned at bath time.
- Place any choking hazards (including fridge magnets) high
- Install latches for cabinets and drawers
- Add cushioned corner guards to tables and other sharp-cornered surfaces
- Cover electrical outlets
Source: Parents Magazine
Be Aware of Commonly Missed Dangers
All the checklists in the world can’t protect children from accidents. However, one of the biggest things parents can do to keep their babies safe is to be aware of potential daily dangers.
Neighbor’s Swimming Pool
Multiple reports show that babies can drown quickly and quietly in just a few inches of water. Parents should be always attentive to the dangers of a swimming pool.
“Because drowning happens quickly and quietly, adults watching kids in or near water should avoid distracting activities like playing cards, reading books, talking on the phone, and using alcohol or drugs,” warns the CDC.
Infant drownings can also happen in a small tub where Parents Magazine says “more than half of all infant drowns occur.” Bath seats and rings are often involved in bathtub drownings, as they can give a false sense of security to parents and are known to tip over with the baby inside it.
“Never leave your child alone in or near any kind of water. Don’t answer the door or the phone or attend to other children without taking your baby with you or draining the tub,” Parents Magazine said.
The Family Pet
“Don’t leave your baby alone in a room with a dog, cat, or any pet,” warns Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Even if your pet seems gentle, it could think your baby is a threat and could harm him.”
Parents Magazine says that 100,000 children under the age of 10 are treated in emergency rooms yearly for dog-bite.
“The majority of attacks happen in familiar places by a dog that belongs to the victim’s family or friend,” they said.
If Accidents Happen
Despite the best of intentions, accidents can happen. Unfortunately, some accidents can have lasting or permanent effects – especially to babies with their developing bones and muscles.
Day Care Centers, swimming pools owned by neighbors, and even the property of other people can be safe environments for babies. They can also be dangerous if neglect is involved.
If a baby is injured, getting immediate medical care for the child is the most important thing. Afterward, present a claim with an insurance carrier and consult with a Personal Injury Lawyer like those at Hughes and Coleman to examine the case.
Steps to Prepare Your Home for a Baby
There are countless steps to creating the best, safest environment for your new arrival. For further reading, check out these links: