18
Jun

Choosing Safe Baby Products: Strollers

Strollers come in a variety of sizes and styles. When you’re searching for that perfect stroller that’s light and portable, keep safety in mind, too.

What to look for:

  • Check for a stroller that was made for your child’s age, height, and weight. Newborns need to be able to lie almost flat in strollers, since they can’t hold up their heads.
  • Examine the stroller for reliable restraining belts. The safest design is a 5-point harness: shoulder straps, a strap between the legs, and waist belts that connect together.
  • If the stroller has a handrest (grab bar) at the front of the seat, make sure the opening between the grab bar and the seat can be closed when the stroller is used in the reclined position.
  • The best brakes lock back wheels by engaging mechanisms in the wheels themselves rather than relying on pressure on the tires. Some strollers have brakes for one wheel, others have brakes for two wheels. Whatever brakes the stroller has, check for ones that are easy to use.
  • An additional safety latch will keep the stroller open if the main mechanism fails.
  • The stroller should be free from parts that can pinch a child’s fingers or pose a choking hazard.
  • Check out the stroller for stability. The wheel base should be wide and the seat should be low in the frame. The stroller should resist tipping backward when you press lightly down on the handles.
  • If there is a basket for carrying packages, it should be low on the back of the stroller and in front of the rear wheels.
  • The leg openings should be small enough to prevent an infant from slipping through.
  • You should be able to steer the stroller in a straight line when pushing with one hand.
  • The handlebars should be at your waist level or slightly lower.
  • If you want a stroller designed to hold more than one child, be aware that tandem models (where the children sit one behind the other) are generally easier to steer than the kind where the children sit side by side. In addition, the tandem models are generally more stable and fold more compactly. If you choose one where the children will sit side by side, make sure the stroller has only one footrest. If there are two separate foot rests, a child’s foot could get stuck between them.

SAFETY NOTES:

  • Never leave a child unattended in a stroller, especially when asleep.
  • Avoid using a pillow or blanket as a mattress in a stroller. If newborns have too much room in the stroller, you may place tightly rolled baby blankets around them to help keep them still.
  • Always put on the brakes when the stroller is not moving.
  • Never hang purses or diaper bags on the handles of a stroller. A baby could get tangled in the straps and be strangled, or the weight of the bags could cause the stroller to tip over backwards.
  • To avoid trapping your baby’s head, close the opening between the grab bar and the seat when using the stroller in the reclined position.
  • Fold and unfold the stroller away from children to avoid pinching your child’s fingers.
  • If you buy a new stroller, register it with the manufacturer so they can contact you if there is a safety problem later.
18
Jun

Choosing Safe Baby Products: Cribs

Whether you choose a new crib or a hand-me-down, check it carefully to make sure that your baby’s sleep space is safe.

What to look for:

  • Fixed side rails: Side rails should be fixed, not adjustable. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned the sale of adjustable side rails for safety reasons. Do not buy or accept a used crib with an adjustable side rail.
  • Proper slat distance: The distance between slats must be no more than 2-3/8 inches (6 centimeters) to protect infants from falling out and toddlers from trapping their heads between the slats.
  • Get the firmest mattress you can find. Don’t rely on manufacturers’ labels — test it yourself by pushing firmly on the center and all sides of the mattress. Make sure the mattress holds firm and springs back in place quickly. This is extremely important because soft mattresses may play a role in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Be sure that the mattress fits snugly in the crib. This keeps a baby from slipping in between the mattress and the crib sides. Make sure to remove any plastic mattress packaging before use. If you use a mattress pad, buy one that fits tightly.
  • Corner posts: If the crib has corner posts, they must be either flush with the top of the headboard and footboard or very tall — over 16 inches (41 centimeters). Anything in between is a potential strangulation hazard.
  • If you are getting a used crib, check it with extra care:
    • Avoid cribs older than 10 years old: They may not meet the most recent safety standards. There may be too much space between slats or elaborate cut-outs in the headboard and footboard that can trap a baby’s head. A crib made before 1978 may have a finish that contains lead, so a crib that has been in the family for generations may not be the best one to use!
    • Check the condition of the crib: Check that the crib has all of its hardware and that all parts and slats are in good condition. Only use manufacturer-provided parts if any repairs are needed. Make sure you have a manual to assemble it properly.

SAFETY NOTES:

  • Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep.
  • Make sure the crib has not been recalled by the manufacturer.
  • Check all screws and hardware regularly and tighten them if necessary.
  • A bare bed is best. Never place bumper pads, soft bedding, or soft toys (blankets, fluffy comforters, pillows, plush toys) in your baby’s crib. Any of these items could cause your baby to suffocate.
  • Remove mobiles when your baby starts to push to his or her hands and knees or when your baby turns 5 months old, whichever comes first.
  • Do not place a crib near a window or drapes. Your baby could fall or become entangled in window blind and drape cords.
  • Remove bibs and necklaces from your baby’s neck before putting your baby in the crib.
  • Do not hang toys by strings.
18
Jun

Choosing Safe Baby Products: Changing Tables

Generally, you can choose from three kinds of changing tables:

  1. wooden ones with guardrails
  2. fold-up models
  3. hinged chest adapters

Hinged chest adapters are not recommended — dressers with these adapters have toppled over when a baby’s weight was placed close to the outer edge.

Babies can get hurt if they fall off changing tables, so they should always be watched closely.

What to look for:

  • Wooden changing tables with rails are usually the least likely to sway or tip over when a baby pulls on them from the floor.
  • Fold-up models should be checked for sturdiness: When the table is open, give it a good shake.
  • A wire changing table should have a wide base so that a baby can’t pull it over on top of himself or herself from the floor.
  • The table should have shelves or compartments for storing everything you’ll need. This prevents you from taking your eyes off your baby while you look for that hard-to-find item. You should keep supplies within your reach, but out of the baby’s reach, since many diaper supplies are dangerous for babies.
  • A flat changing surface should be surrounded on all four sides by a guardrail, which should be at least 2 inches (5 centimeters) in height. The surface should be lower in the middle than on the sides, which helps keep the baby from rolling from side to side.

SAFETY NOTES:

  • Use the safety belt every time you change your baby.
  • Never leave your infant unattended even if you think he or she is secure.
  • Stop using your changing table when your baby reaches the age or weight limit recommended by the manufacturer, which is typically age 2, or 30 pounds (13,607 grams).
18
Jun

Choosing Safe Baby Products: Carriers

Babies love and need close contact, and infant carriers are ideal for nestling them against their parents. Most injuries that occur with these carriers result from falls. Two types of carriers are available: one is pouch-like, and the other has a frame.

What to look for:

  • The carrier should have straps that prevent your baby from falling or crawling out. Look for firm, padded head support. Try to match your baby’s size and weight and make sure there is enough depth to support the back and that the leg openings are small enough to prevent your baby from slipping out.
  • Check for ease of use. Some of the soft ones are difficult to put on because of numerous straps.
  • A framed carrier should have a kickstand that locks in the open position. The folding mechanism should be free of pinch points that could catch your baby’s fingers. Look for padding on the metal frame around the infant’s face.
  • Try the pack on for comfort, both with the baby in it and without.
  • Ideally, the fabric should be durable with strong stitching or large heavy fasteners to prevent slippage.
  • Pockets or zippered compartments are handy for storing frequently needed items.

SAFETY NOTES:

  • Never use a framed carrier before your infant is 4 to 5 months old, and don’t use it as an infant seat. It can tip over without warning.
  • Use restraining straps at all times if your carrier has them.
  • If you need to lean over, bend from the knees rather than the waist to prevent the baby from falling out of the carrier.
  • Check the carrier periodically to look for loose fasteners or ripped seams.
18
Jun

Choosing Safe Baby Products: Bathtubs

Baby bathtubs give parents a controlled environment for cleaning a wet, slippery baby. The angle of the tub helps free a parent’s hands for washing.

Things to keep in mind when choosing an infant bathtub:

  • The bathtub should have slip-resistant backing to keep it from moving.
  • A tub made of thick plastic will stay firm in the center, even under the weight of the water.
  • Beware of foam cushions; your baby could tear off pieces and swallow them.
  • Avoid bath rings, baby flotation devices, and bath seats. If these tip over, the baby could drown.
  • Do not choose a tub with rough edges, which can scratch your baby.
  • An infant-to-toddler tub will last longer as it can be adjusted when your baby grows.
  • Some bathtubs have plastic slots or indentations that can hold soap, shampoo, and other cleaning supplies.
  • A plug at the bottom of the tub makes draining the water easy.

SAFETY NOTES:

  • Always keep one hand on your baby while he or she is in water.
  • Only adults or experienced babysitters should give babies baths. Baths can be dangerous for babies, because babies can drown in as little as an inch of water.
  • Always touch the water to check the temperature before putting your baby in the bathtub. Water that is too hot can burn babies.
  • Gather all of your baby’s bathing supplies ahead of time, including shampoo, soap, washcloth, towel, clean clothes, and a clean diaper/wipes.
  • Always take your baby with you if you have to answer the door or the telephone or if you’re needed elsewhere in the house.
  • Always empty the bathtub and turn it upside down when it is not being used.
18
Jun

Choking

When a child is choking, it means that an object — usually food or a toy — is stuck in the trachea (the airway), keeping air from flowing normally into or out of the lungs, so the child can’t breathe properly.

The trachea is usually protected by a small flap of cartilage called the epiglottis . The trachea and the esophagus  share an opening at the back of the throat, and the epiglottis acts like a lid, snapping shut over the trachea each time a person swallows. It allows food to pass down the esophagus and prevents it from going down the trachea.

But every once in a while, the epiglottis doesn’t close fast enough and an object can slip into the trachea. This is what happens when something goes “down the wrong pipe.”

Most of the time, the food or object only partially blocks the trachea, is coughed up, and breathing returns to normal quickly. Kids who seem to be choking and coughing but still can breathe and talk usually recover without help. It can be uncomfortable and upsetting for them, but they’re generally fine after a few seconds.

Choking Can Be an Emergency

Sometimes, an object can get into the trachea and completely block the airway. If airflow into and out of the lungs is blocked and the brain is deprived of oxygen, choking can become a life-threatening emergency.

A child may be choking and need help right away if he or she:

  • WhatToDo_button.gifis unable to breathe
  • is gasping or wheezing
  • can’t talk, cry, or make noise
  • turns blue
  • grabs at his or her throat or waves arms
  • appears panicked
  • becomes limp or unconscious

In those cases, immediately start abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver), the standard rescue procedure for choking, if you’ve been trained to do so.

Abdominal Thrusts (The Heimlich Maneuver)

If you have kids, it’s important to get trained in both cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the technique of abdominal thrusts (the Heimlich maneuver). Even if you don’t have kids, knowing how to perform these first-aid procedures will let you help if you’re ever in a situation where someone is choking.

The idea of abdominal thrusts is that a sudden burst of air forced upward through the trachea from the diaphragm will dislodge a foreign object and send it flying up into (or even out of) the mouth.

Though the technique is pretty simple, abdominal thrusts must be done with caution, especially on young children. They are safest when done by someone trained to do them. If done the wrong way, the choking person — especially a baby or child — could be hurt. There’s a special version of abdominal thrusts just for infants that is designed to lower the risk of injury to their small bodies.

The technique of abdominal thrusts and CPR are usually taught as part of basic first-aid courses, which are offered by YMCAs, hospitals, and local chapters of the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Red Cross.

What to Do

Call 911 for any critical choking situation.

Here are several possible situations you might face and tips on how to handle them:

  • If a child is choking and coughing but can breathe and talk, this means the airway is not completely blocked. It’s best to do nothing but watch the child carefully and make sure he or she recovers completely. The child will likely be fine after a good coughing spell. Don’t reach into the mouth to grab the object or even pat the child on the back. Either of these steps could push the object farther down the airway and make the situation worse. Stay with the child and remain calm until the episode passes.
  • If a child is conscious but can’t breathe, talk, or make noise, or is turning blue, the situation calls for abdominal thrusts. Call 911 or tell someone nearby to call 911 immediately. Begin the thrusts if you’ve been trained to do so. If you haven’t been trained, and no one else is available who has been, wait until help arrives.
  • If the child was choking and is now unconscious and no longer breathing, shout for help and call 911, or tell someone nearby to call 911 immediately. Then proceed immediately to CPR, if you’ve been trained in it. If you have not been trained, and no one else is available who has been, wait until help arrives.

When to Call the Doctor or Go to the ER

Take your child for emergency medical care after any major choking episode.

Also seek emergency medical care for a child if:

  • there is a lasting cough, drooling, gagging, wheezing, difficulty swallowing, or difficulty breathing
  • the child turned blue, became limp, or was unconscious during the episode, even if he or she seemed to recover
  • you think the child has swallowed an object, such as a toy or battery

If your child had an episode that seemed like choking but fully recovered after a coughing spell, there is no need to seek immediate medical care but you should call your doctor.

Preventing Choking

All kids are at risk for choking, but those younger than 3 are especially vulnerable. Young children tend to put things in their mouths, have smaller airways that are easily blocked, and don’t have a lot of experience chewing so often swallow things whole.

You can help minimize the risks of choking:

  • Avoid foods that pose choking risks (like hot dogs, grapes, raw carrots, nuts, raisins, hard or gummy candy, spoonfuls of peanut butter, chunks of meat or cheese, and popcorn), which are a similar size and shape as a child’s airway.
  • At mealtime, be sure to serve a child’s food in small, manageable bites. That means cutting whole grapes into quarters, cutting hot dogs lengthwise and into pieces (and remove the tough skin), and cooking vegetables rather than serving them raw. Teach kids to sit down for all meals and snacks and not to talk or laugh with food in their mouths.
  • Toys and household items also can be choking hazards — beware of deflated balloons, coins, beads, small toy parts, and batteries. Get down on the floor often to check for objects that kids who are learning to walk or crawl could put in their mouths and choke on. You’d be surprised by the things that routinely fall off counters or out of pockets and end up under furniture, behind curtains, etc.
  • Choose safe, age-appropriate toys. Always follow the manufacturer’s age recommendations — some toys have small parts that can cause choking. To determine if a toy is too small, see if it passes easily through an empty cardboard toilet paper tube. If it does, it’s too small. Any object smaller than the size of a golf ball has the potential to enter the mouth and block the airway.

Take the time now to become prepared. CPR and first-aid courses are a must for parents, other caregivers, and babysitters. To find one in your area, contact your local American Red Cross, YMCA, or American Heart Association chapter, or check with hospitals and health departments in your community.

18
Jun

Childproofing and Preventing Household Accidents

When was the last time you crawled around your home on your hands and knees? As strange as it sounds, give it a go. Kids explore their everyday environments, so it’s crucial to check things out from their perspective to make sure your home is safe.

And though we often think of babies and toddlers when we hear the words “babyproofing” or “childproofing,” unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 years old and under, with more than a third of these injuries happening at home.

Safety Tips

Household injuries are one of the top reasons kids under age 3 visit the ER, and nearly 70% of the children who die from unintentional injuries at home are 4 years old and under. Young kids have the highest risk of being injured at home because that’s where they spend most of their time.

Supervision is the best way to prevent injuries, in the home and out, but even the most watchful parents can’t keep kids completely out of harm’s way every second of the day.

Here are some simple ways to help prevent injuries in your own home.

Accidents That Can Happen at Home

The common causes of home-injury deaths are fire and burns, suffocation, drowning, choking, falls, poisoning, and firearms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most home accidents happen where there’s:

  • water: in the bathroom, kitchen, swimming pools, or hot tubs
  • heat or flames: in the kitchen or at a barbecue grill
  • toxic substances: under the kitchen sink, in the medicine cabinet, in the garage or garden shed, or even in a purse or other place where medications are stored
  • potential for a fall: on stairs, slippery floors, from high windows, or from tipping furniture

You can take precautions to make these places safer, but the most important thing to remember is to watch young kids at all times. Even if your home is childproofed, it only takes an instant for babies and toddlers to fall, run over to a hot stove, or put the wrong thing in their mouths. Your watchfulness is your child’s best defense.

However, accidents will still happen, so it’s important to be prepared. If you’re expecting a baby or have kids, it’s wise to:

  1. Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the age-appropriate Heimlich maneuver.
  2. Keep the following near the phone (for yourself and caregivers):
    • poison-control number: 1-800-222-1222
    • doctor’s number
    • parents’ work and cell phone numbers
    • neighbor’s or nearby relative’s number (if you need someone to watch other kids in case of an emergency)
  3. Make a first-aid kit and keep emergency instructions inside.
  4. Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

 

18
Jun

Bedrooms: Household Safety Checklist

Child’s Room/Bedroom

  • Does your baby’s changing table have a safety belt?
  • Are all painted cribs, bassinets, and high chairs made after 1978? (Prior to this, paint was lead based.)
  • Are crib slats less than 2-3/8 inches (6 centimeters) apart?
  • Are the crib’s headboard and footboard free of large cut-outs?
  • Is all of the hardware on the crib secure?
  • Is the crib mattress firm and flat? Does it fit snugly in the crib?
  • Is the crib free of a drop side?
  • Is the crib free of soft pillows, large stuffed animals, bumper pads, and soft bedding?
  • Have any strings or ribbons been clipped off hanging mobiles and crib toys?
  • Are window blind and curtain cords tied with clothespins or specially designed cord clips? Are they kept well out of reach and away from cribs?
  • Are dressers secured to walls with drawers closed?
  • Do the lids on toy chests or toy storage containers have a lid support to keep them from slamming shut? Are all toy chests non-locking?
  • Has a window guard been placed on any window that isn’t an emergency exit?
  • Are any night-lights in the room not touching any fabric like bedspreads or curtains?
  • Does your child wear flame-retardant sleepwear?
  • Is there a smoke alarm outside the bedroom?
  • Have you removed all drawstrings from your child’s clothing?

Adult’s Bedroom

  • Are all medication bottles, loose pills, coins, scissors, and any other small or sharp objects out of reach?
  • Are window blind and curtain cords tied with clothespins or specially designed cord clips?

If you own firearms:

  • Are they stored in a securely locked case out of kids’ reach? All firearms should be stored unloaded and in the un-cocked position.
  • Is ammunition stored in a separate place and in a securely locked container out of kids’ reach?
  • Are keys kept where kids can’t find them?
18
Jun

Bathroom, Laundry, and Garage: Household Safety Checklist

Bathroom

  • Is the thermostat on the hot water heater set below 120°F (49°C)?
  • Are razor blades, nail scissors, and other sharp tools stored in a locked cabinet?
  • Are childproof latches installed on all drawers and cabinets?
  • Do the outlets have ground fault circuit interrupters (which protect against electrocution if an electrical appliance gets wet)? (If you live in an older home that may not be “up to code,” have an electrician inspect your circuit breaker panel.)
  • Are toilets always left closed? Is there a toilet-lid lock on the toilet?
  • Are all hair dryers, curling irons, and electric razors unplugged when not in use?
  • Are there nonskid strips on the bottoms of bathtubs?
  • Are there nonslip pads under rugs to hold them securely to the floor?
  • Are all prescription and nonprescription medications, cosmetics, and cleaners stored in a locked cabinet? Are childproof caps on all medications?
  • Are bottles of mouthwash, perfumes, hair dyes, hair sprays, nail polishes, and nail polish removers stored in a locked cabinet?

Garage & Laundry Area

  • Are all tools and supplies used for gardening, automotive, and lawn care stored safely away from children?
  • Are all hazardous automotive, pool, and gardening products in a locked area?
  • Are recycling containers storing glass and metal out of reach? Are garbage cans covered?
  • Are all bleaches, detergents, and any other cleaning products out of reach?
  • Are laundry chutes locked with childproof locks?
18
Jun

Backyard and Pool: Household Safety Checklist

Outdoors/Backyard/Pool

  • Are all walkways and outdoor stairways well lit?
  • Are all walkways clear of toys, objects, or anything blocking a clear path?
  • Are all sidewalks and outdoor stairways clear of concrete cracks or missing pieces?
  • Are all garbage cans securely covered?
  • Are all swing sets parts free from rust, splinters, and sharp edges?
  • Are all parts on swing sets or other outdoor equipment securely fastened?
  • Is the surface beneath the swing set soft enough (cushioned with material such as sand, mulch, wood chips, or approved rubber surfacing mats) to absorb the shock of a fall?
  • Are all outdoor toys put away in a secure, dry place when not in use?
  • Is there climb-proof fencing at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) high on all sides of the pool? Does the fence have a self-closing gate with a childproof lock?
  • Have all ladders been removed from an above-ground pool when not in use?

Other Safety Issues

  • Have you removed any potentially poisonous houseplants?
  • Have you instituted a no-smoking rule in your home to protect kids from environmental tobacco smoke?
  • Have you considered possible health risks from — and if indicated, tested for — lead, radon, asbestos, mercury, mold, and carbon monoxide?
  • If there are guns in the home, have they been placed in a locked cabinet with the key hidden and the ammunition locked separately?
  • Do you always supervise your child around pets, especially dogs?