Child safety is an important health issue. Babies depend on adult protection, particularly during the first six months. Here are some safety tips:
Birth to 6 months
1. Never leave your baby in the care of young children.
2. Never leave your baby alone on a bed or table. If you must turn away, keep one hand on your baby to prevent falls, or take the baby with you.
3. Before answering the phone or the door, put your baby in a crib or playpen, or take him (or her) with you.
4. When your baby is in a crib, always keep the side up and locked into place. Cribs made before September 1986 are dangerous. Don’t use a crib that doesn’t have a label.
5. Use a firm crib mattress. Its edges should fit tightly to the crib. Never put your baby on an adult water bed.
6. Always check that your baby’s bath water is not too hot. Set your water heater temperature at 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit). Never leave your baby alone in the bath.
7. Taste your baby’s solid food (introduced after six months of age) first to test the temperature. Food that has been prepared in a microwave should be stirred well because the heat is uneven and there may be hot spots. Don’t microwave frozen breast milk or formula; thaw these at room temperature.
8. Use only cold-air vaporizers.
9. Keep baby’s foods away from other cans and medicines.
10. Always carefully read the labels on all baby medicines.
11. Babies must travel in a car seat when they are riding in a vehicle – it’s the law. Use the appropriate car seat for your child’s age and make sure the car seat is installed properly. (Eighty per cent of car seats are not installed properly.)
12. Always support your baby’s head. Never shake your baby; this could cause serious injuries, and can even be fatal.
13. Select snug-fitting clothes or sleepwear and choose fire retardant fabrics.
14. Keep emergency telephone numbers in a convenient place where you can see them easily if they are needed.
6 to 12 months
1. Never use a baby walker. Baby walkers are dangerous, and they don’t help babies learn to walk; in fact, they can hinder or slow walking. Baby walkers are illegal in Canada – including through second-hand sales.
2. Keep your baby away from stairs. Install safety gates at the tops and bottoms of stairs. Using stairway gates which are anchored to the wall on either side of the gate, preventing your baby or toddler from pushing the gate loose and falling down the stairs. Choose a gate with care. Don’t use pressure gates for stairways; your child can push it over and fall down the stairs. Avoid accordion-style or plastic mesh safety gates with large holes; children can climb these gates by putting their feet in the holes.
3. Open doors cautiously, just in case your baby is behind them. Make sure your baby’s fingers are not in the way when you close a door.
4. Keep unsteady furniture out of your baby’s reach. It can be pulled over easily by a child.
5. Never leave your baby near a fire, oven door, electric iron, kettle or fan.
6. Never place your baby’s high-chair in a high-traffic area, or near a stove, electric appliances or plants.
7. Unplug electrical appliances when not in use and keep cords out of baby’s reach to prevent him from biting them or tripping over them.
8. Electric outlets your baby could reach should have outlet covers.
9. Never use ribbons, strings or necklaces around your baby’s neck or on a pacifier because of the possibility of suffocation.
10. Keep all small objects out of your baby’s reach, including buttons, coins, pins, jewellery, pens, pencils, etc. Your baby can easily choke on these items.
11. Check the size of all toys, especially rattles, to see if any of the parts can be swallowed. Allow your baby to play with age-appropriate toys only.
12. Avoid play areas with sharp-edged tables and furniture, or cover the corners of tables.
13. Avoid feeding your infant hard-to-swallow foods such as nuts, raw carrots, orange segments, candies, chips, gum, grapes, raisins and hot dogs. These foods can choke a young child.
Published in March 2007