I must admit I am a completely neurotic mom when it comes to safety. If my girls are sick, I am actually pretty relaxed. A sick child usually takes a while to get to the point of hospitalization, and I am very well versed on every red flag for a sick child; but injuries happen in a fraction of a second. They are preventable, but in the real world no one can predict every move of a very unpredictable baby or toddler. There are moments when you will gasp or scream as you realize that your baby is in danger, and you can’t stop it. These moments happen to all of us, and we never forget them even when the outcome was just a few tears. The safety things I have listed below are the most common causes of serious injuries, causing hospitalizations or death, in crawling infants and toddlers. If your baby is crawling or even scooting across the room then you need to read this.
1- Put up baby gates at the top AND the bottom of any stairs. About 100,000 kids under 5 visit an Emergency Room in the U.S. each year after falling down stairs. More than a third of these are babies under a year old.
2- Crawl yourself! Everyday you should get down on the floor and make sure there are no hazards within his reach. Look for hidden items under the couch that he can (and will) stick in his mouth, or electric cords that he may pull (along with the lamp attached to it), or an outlet that is unprotected. If your baby were to swallow a button battery, magnets, or a push pin, he could be dead in a few hours. Remote controls, key fobs, calculators, hearing aids, thermometers, and holiday ornaments often have button batteries in them. Be sure to always keep these out of reach.
3- Drain any ditches, ponds or fountains that she could get into, or cover them with a heavy grate. If your baby is going to have access to a bathroom while you are out of the room or even showering, you should also consider a toilet lock. Over 100 children drown in the U.S. each year in bathtubs, buckets, toilets, spas, hot tubs and other containers of water.
4- Strap down large furniture, TVs and appliances that your crawler-soon-to-be-climber can pull onto himself. Every 3 seconds a child in the U.S. will have one of these items topple on them, and every 2 weeks one is killed. Even the most stable dresser becomes very unstable once your child figures out how to pull the drawers out and use them to climb to the top.
5- Make sure any medications, cleaning agents, or chemicals are placed in a cabinet out of your child’s reach and locked. I have cared for countless numbers of little ones who got hold of grandma’s pills and ended up on my pediatric unit or ICU to monitor or resuscitate. Little boys seem to be the most common offenders- something about that Y chromosome!
6- Remove any furniture that has sharp edges and cover any sharp corners like the hearth on a fireplace. Crawling will soon become cruising, and babies have very large heads that usually make contact with the floor before any of their limbs. A sharp corner can turn that little fall into a lot of tears, hours in the ER, stitches and a not-so-small bill from the hospital.
7- Don’t use a baby walker. These walkers can actually delay when a baby starts to walk and they are ridiculously dangerous. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has tried to have these banned for sale for over a decade now. Babies can move 3 feet in 1 second in a walker. They can fall down stairs (in a way that will almost guarantee a severe head or neck injury), flip on the edge of a carpet, and even reach hot stoves or table tops that would normally be out of reach.
8- Tie up any cords that may be in reach. Cords from things like window shades or baby monitors can entangle and strangle an infant or young child.
9- Be careful when placing your infant in a shopping cart. It is safest to wear your infant in a carrier if you are shopping. If you do put her in a cart be sure that you strap her in correctly, never step away from the cart, never let another child push or climb on the cart, and never use an infant carrier or car seat in a shopping cart. I can tell you first hand, a toppling shopping cart with your child in it is one of the most terrifying moments a parent can witness.
10- Your baby is no longer safe in his bassinet or bouncy seat once he can sit up on his own (or exceeds the weight limit). He may also be too big for his baby swing now. Most crawling infants are too big and too strong to safely remain in these momma-really-needs-a-shower gadgets.
11- Make sure he is always strapped properly in his high chair. There are almost 10,000 Emergency Room visits each year from high chair injuries.
12- Take an infant CPR class, and make sure anyone caring for your child is CPR certified too.
13- Keep the number for Poison Control on your fridge and telephone. 1-800-222-1222
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