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Infant Safety in the Home

Sleeping safety

Babies spend a lot of time sleeping in their first year. Newborns, who may sleep 16 hours or more each day, need to be able to rest in a safe environment. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) affirms that the safest way for an infant to sleep is on her back. Infants who sleep on their stomachs or sides have a higher incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrom (SIDS).

Other hazards in the sleeping environment are pillows, heavy blankets and stuffed animals. These items can obstruct a baby's breathing and cause suffocation. When choosing a crib for a baby, parents need to ensure that the bed is up to safety standards as well. Cribs should have slats less than 2 3/8 inches apart, and parents should make sure the mattress fits snugly in the crib to avoid entrapment. Parents using used cribs should also check whether the crib may have been recalled at some point.

Water safety

Parents of infants should never leave their child unattended near any body of water. Infants are particularly susceptible to danger from drowning in bathtubs and buckets. Parents should always be within an arm's reach of an infant in the bathtub and vigilant about avoiding distractions, such as talking on the phone or accomplishing household tasks.

Mobile infants who start exploring the house or yard can drown in a bucket or container holding only an inch or two of water. All such containers should be stored out of the reach of children. Purchase locks to prevent infants from playing in, and possibly falling in, the toilet. Contact your local Red Cross for training in CPR and first aid. This ensures that should any incident occur in the home, you are equipped to respond in a way that will lead to positive results.

Stairway safety

Babies who are starting to crawl and explore their environment will often come in contact with stairs. Because infants do not know the danger of falling down the stairs, and will need to learn how to navigate them safely, install gates to prevent injuries. Install a gate at the top and bottom of every staircase in the house, using a hardware-mounted gate. Pressure-mounted gates can give way and cause a serious fall. The use of walkers for infants is strongly discouraged, because a baby could easily move the device to the stairs and fall.

Carseat safety

Remember that all infants must ride in a car seat, in the backseat of the car, facing backwards until they are 1 year old. Even if an infant has outgrown his infant car seat, he needs to sit rear-facing in a convertible seat until he reaches that milestone.

General babyproofing

Once an infant starts sitting independently, parents need to get to work babyproofing the house because she will be on the move soon. Crawl around in your house to see what possible hazards might attract your crawling infant. Electrical outlets are particularly intriguing to infants, so buy and install outlet covers. Keep an eye out for cords that hang down, which can be dangerous if a child pulls on them.

Place poisonous substances, such as cleaning supplies and medications, in a locked cabinet, preferably up high and out of reach. Keep infants out of places such as basements or garages that typically have dangerous substances and objects. Furniture with sharp corners can cause injury to an infant, and heavy objects such as bookcases or tall dressers could topple on the child if climbed on. Anchor these objects—along with stoves and refrigerators—to the wall so they cannot be tipped.

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