Newborns can't move around much on their own, but that doesn't mean they're safe from dangers around the home. Knowing about these dangers can help you make your home a safer place for your newborn. It will also remind you to keep an eye on your newborn and the objects with which you let your little one come into contact.
Maybe you received a few congratulatory balloons in the hospital or have them floating around the house for older children to enjoy. Just because they're floating on the ceiling doesn't mean they're safe for baby. Balloons typically come with strings and a newborn enjoying tummy time or lying on a play mat on the floor could easily get tangled up in one of those strings. Should those balloons be made of latex and pop, the small pieces could accidentally land on baby and cause a choking hazard. Let your newborn look at the balloons, but make sure they're securely tied up away from baby.
You've probably gotten a load of new stuffed animals from your family and friends, but while baby may enjoy them, the newborn stage isn't the right time. Danielle Cortes DeVito, a paramedic and National Media Safety Consultant, reminds parents to keep stuffed animals out of a baby's crib because they can cause suffocation. Unless watching baby closely, parents should also keep stuff animals out of baby swings, bouncers, or any place where baby could end up with a stuffed animal covering his face for more than a few seconds. If baby does have some stuffed animals nearby, watch for buttons, ribbons, or other bits that could come off and become a choking hazard.
Swaddling a baby can help you get at least a little bit of sleep when you first bring your newborn home. The process of swaddling makes a baby feel a bit like she's back in the womb, but if done improperly it can cause problems. If you swaddle the baby too loosely, the blankets could end up contributing to SIDS, while swaddling a baby too tightly could cause overheating. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sliding your hand between the baby and the swaddle to see if it's tight enough. If it feels somewhat snug but with some give -- such as how your fingers would feel beneath a stretchy elastic waistband -- it's OK.
When you paint your newborn's room, be sure to choose a non-VOC paint as the volatile organic compounds -- VOCs -- found in many paints can cause respiratory tract irritation and visual problems in infants. While VOCs don't stay in the air for long, you'll want to be sure to properly air out your new baby's room before spending much time in there. If you have an older home, one built before 1978, you will also want to have your home tested for the presence of lead paint. Newborns can accidentally inhale lead paint dust or pick up tiny lead paint chips on toys or other baby items and that could end up causing developmental and behavioral problems later in life.
Drowning can occur quickly with a just a small amount of water, so never, ever leave baby alone around water -- even for a few moments. Bath time isn't the only dangerous time either. Any cups, bowls, or buckets of water place close to a newborn could become a drowning risk. The temperature of the water matters during bath time too. The Mayo Clinic recommends that bath water be around 100 degrees Fahrenheit You can purchase special rubber ducks or bath tub thermometers to make sure the water stays at the right temperature for baby.
You may know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends not using sunscreen on babies until they are at least 6 months old, but you may not realize that even a little bit of sun can cause major problems for your newborn. The Skin Cancer Foundation advises parents to keep newborns out of the sun entirely because they lack a lot of melanin in their skin to help protect them from the sun. While you may remember to keep baby covered up while outside, don't forget that sun can also come in through car windows too. While this won't cause sunburn, it will make baby hot, so invest in a car screen to keep your new baby comfy.
You baby proof your house, keep blind cords away from baby and stuffed animals out the crib, but you could still put your newborn's life in danger. You could slip and fall while holding your baby, causing head trauma. You could also fall asleep with your baby, neglecting to provide proper care and possibly causing suffocation. To keep your baby safe, you need to work on keeping yourself safe. Make sure your stairs and other pathways stay clear. Ask for help when you're too tired to think straight and always put baby to sleep in a crib, bassinet, or other approved sleeping spot. When you're more aware of what could happen, you have an easier time avoiding the dangers.