Safety issues change and increase significantly as newborns grow into toddlers. It is important to consider your child’s physical and mental development when evaluating current and future hazards.
Although close supervision is important, it is not realistic to think that you can watch your child’s every move. In addition, constantly hovering over your child can limit his or her experiences and confidence. Balancing supervision with safety precautions will help prevent accidents and injuries, as well as allow your child to explore and discover.
Taking the time to research and adopt safe habits can help to prevent common accidents and injuries that can occur around the house.
Use safe baby products
In the United States, safety standards for children’s equipment, furniture, clothing, and other items are set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Although most new items you purchase will likely meet these standards, older and used items may not.
Check that all the products your baby uses meet current standards. The following list provides safety information for items frequently used by children up to age two:
• Cribs should meet all current safety standards, such as having less than 2.4in. of space between slats. Lower the mattress and remove mobiles, large stuffed toys, and bumpers from the crib as your baby grows.
• Baby walkers should not be used, according to recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). If you decide to allow your child to use a walker, the AAP recommends using only those labeled “ASTM F977-96,” which ensures that they meet international safety standards.1
• Playpens should have spaces in the mesh material that do not exceed 0.25in. across; wooden slats should measure less than 2.4in. apart.1 Be careful about the toys you put in the playpen. As your children grow, they can get tangled in mobiles or may use larger toys as steps to boost them out of the enclosure.
• High-chairs should have a wide, stable base. Do not use booster seats that attach to the table. Always take time to make sure the high chair is locked in the upright position before use. Use the safety straps, and supervise your child at all times while he or she is in the high chair.
• Changing tables should have a railing on all sides that is 2in. high. A slightly indented changing surface is also recommended. Always use the safety strap and keep one hand on your child. Have diapers and other items handy, but keep them out of your child’s reach.
For more information about equipment standards from the CPSC, see the Other Places to Get Help section of this topic.
Safe sleeping and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Sudden infant death syndrom is one of the most common causes of death for babies between the ages of 1 and 12 months. Most babies who die of SIDS are between 2 and 4 months old. Although SIDS cannot be predicted, placing your baby on his or her back while sleeping can help prevent this tragedy.
You can prevent many falling accidents by using common sense and appropriate equipment that meets all safety standards. Recognize new hazards that your baby will encounter as he or she learns to scoot, crawl, and walk.
• As soon as your baby can walk, lock doors to all dangerous areas.
• Use sliding gates at both ends of stairs. Do not use accordion-style gates, because a child’s head could get caught. Look for a gate with openings no bigger than 2.4in..
• Install window guards.
• Do not allow children to climb on high furniture.
• Be careful when using equipment. Always use the safety straps, and keep a close eye on your child.
Help prevent your child from choking by offering the right kinds of foods and keeping an eye out for choking hazards.
• Learn to recognize the signs of choking so you can react quickly. For example, a child who is choking cannot speak, cry, breathe, or cough.
• Know how to select and prepare foods. For example, choose soft foods that can be cut up into small pieces, such as cooked carrots. Avoid round, firm foods such as hot dogs, grapes, nuts, and raisins.
• Establish certain areas for eating, such as the kitchen table or dining room. Teach your child to sit down while he or she is eating and to chew carefully; do not force a child to eat when he or she is not hungry. These practices will also help your child to develop lifelong healthy eating habits.
• Be aware that young children can choke on small objects. Generally, objects smaller than 1.3in. in diameter and 2.3in. long are choking hazards. Examples include coins, buttons, and bottle caps. Keep these items out of your child’s reach.
• Do not allow your child to eat while he or she is walking, running, playing, or riding in a car.
• Never leave rubber bands or deflated balloons around the house where children can reach them.
• Do not allow young children to chew gum or eat hard candy.
To prevent poisoning, identify household cleaners and other chemicals, plants, medicines, makeup, perfumes, and any other products that can harm a child who eats or inhales them. It is critical to properly store these items out of reach of young children. If you have a possible poisoning emergency, call AMC immediately at (38-044) 490-7600 or Kyiv’s Emergency number: 03.
Lead poisoning is another cause for concern in young children who may chew on contaminated paint flakes, painted objects, or toys. House paint is no longer made with lead, but older homes may still have it on walls and other surfaces. Have your home tested if you are unsure whether lead-based paint was used. In 2007, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found high lead content in many children’s toys and jewelry made in other countries.
Burns are caused by heat, electricity, chemicals, radiation, or friction. Protect your child from burn injuries by identifying dangers in your home and taking measures to remove or block your child’s access to them.
• Heat burns can be prevented by keeping your child away from fire, steam, hot water, and other hot liquids and objects. Do not heat bottled formula or breast milk in the microwave, because hot spots in the liquid can burn a baby’s mouth and throat. Consider buying flame-resistant pajamas for your child.
• Electrical burns can be prevented by keeping electrical cords out of your child’s reach and using safety covers on all electrical outlets. During electrical storms, keep your child indoors and away from windows.
• Chemical burns can be prevented by keeping all chemicals out of children’s reach. Acid, such as from batteries, and alkaline products, such as drain cleaners, are especially dangerous.
• Sun burns can permanently damage a child’s skin. Children younger than 6 months should stay out of the sun entirely. Keep young children out of the sun, or have them use sun-protection measures while they are outdoors.
• Friction burns are usually minor injuries. Rough play or falls may cause these burns in babies or young children.
• Enjoy fireworks from a distance. Almost half of those injured from fireworks are children 14 years of age and younger.3 Children can also get burns from using and being around firecrackers and sparklers. Sparklers have been shown to be most dangerous for children under 5 years of age.3
Drowning is second only to automobile accidents as a leading cause of death in children younger than 5 years. Never leave your child alone near water. Also, follow drowning prevention recommendations from the National Safety Council, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
• Supervise all baths. Always stay within an arm’s reach of your child, and never leave your child alone in the tub-even with an older sibling.
• Control access to water in your home. Keep large bodies of water, such as a pond or a pool, fenced. Empty all buckets and coolers when they are not in use. Keep toilet lids down, and secure them with safety latches.
• Keep pool areas safe. When visiting public or private pools, keep your child within arm’s reach. If you have your own pool, make sure to follow all your local safety codes. These usually are available from your city’s planning department.
• Keep children away from irrigation canals. Do not let your child play in or near irrigation canals.
In addition to these precautions, learn first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). It can make the difference between life and death.