Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond
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Your newborn: Nursery safety
Please take a few moments to review the following safety tips. Understanding what you can do for your baby's physical safety now can help prevent an accident later.
Plan ahead for your baby's safety. Most accidents happen during times of stress, fatigue or upset in the family routine. When you are tired and rushed, you may more easily overlook dangerous situations.
- Be sure your baby's crib is safe. Raise the side when you place your baby to sleep.
- Don't leave your baby alone in a room with pets or small children.
- Don't smoke or drink hot liquids while holding your baby.
The following are safety reminders to consider.
- Make sure the crib has no missing or broken hardware.
- Look for slats that are no more than 2 3/8 inches apart (the width of a soda can).
- Check to see that there are no corner posts more than one-sixteenth inch high above the top of the end panel.
- Make sure there are no cutout designs in the headboard or footboard.
- If the crib is new, look for a safety certification seal.
- Make sure the mattress is firm and tight-fitting.
- Make sure the locks and latches are secure and do not slip.
- If you refinish an old crib, remove all old paint first (it may contain lead). Repaint with a high-quality, lead-free paint.
Share the following tips with anyone who will be caring for your baby.
- Put your baby to sleep on his back (for the first year) to help prevent SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
- Remove all soft bedding from the crib, including bumper pads, pillows, sheepskins, stuffed animals and quilts.
- Do not put your baby to sleep wearing a bib, necklace, or other items that may cause choking.
- Do not let your baby sleep with rattles, squeeze toys or teethers.
- Do not let your baby sleep on a pillow, water bed, bunk bed or other surface that may cause suffocation.
- Remove mobiles or crib gyms when your baby is 5 months old or begins to push up on his hands and knees.
- Do not string baby gyms, mobiles, clothes, stuffed animals or other toys across the crib.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission provides safety alerts and guidelines on cribs, walkers, pacifiers and toys. For information, call 1-800-638-2772 or visit www.cpsc.gov.
A safe mesh-sided playpen can be a safe place for your baby to play. It is important to follow safety guidelines or else your baby can become trapped in the folded-down sides, or trapped in holes in the mesh.
- Make sure the mesh is less than one-quarter inch in size, smaller than the tiny buttons on baby's clothing.
- Make sure the mesh has no tears, holes or loose threads that could tangle your baby.
- Make sure the mesh is securely attached to the top rail and floorplate.
- Make sure the top rail cover does not have tears or holes.
- If staples are used in the playpen, make sure they are not missing, loose or exposed.
- Do not leave your baby alone in a playpen.
- Always make sure to securely lock the sides so it cannot collapse.
- Show anyone who will take care of your baby how to properly set up the playpen.
- Do not pack the playpen with toys or other objects your baby can climb on to get out of the playpen.
Back carriers are a convenient way to bring your baby while you shop, go for a walk, or do work around the house. Framed back carriers are made only for babies older than 4 or 5 months. When looking for a new back carrier, make sure:
- the carrier matches your baby's height and weight
- the carrier can support your baby's back
- the leg openings are small enough so your baby doesn't slip out
- the carrier has a padded covering over the metal frame near your baby's face
- the stitching is strong or large.
If you choose to use a pacifier, follow these guidelines.
- A pacifier has three parts: a nipple, guard or shield, and a handle or ring. Choose a pacifier that is made out of one piece, not three separate pieces.
- Make sure the guard or shield has air holes and is large enough so your baby cannot suck it into his mouth.
- Only use a pacifier that is made of non-toxic materials. The paint must contain less than 0.06 percent lead.
- Make sure the nipple does not have holes or tears.
- Never tie a string, cord, yarn or ribbon around your baby's neck to hold the pacifier. Your baby could easily become strangled.
- If you are breastfeeding, you should not use a pacifier until after the first 2 to 3 weeks or until nursing is well established.
Strollers and carriages
- Never leave a baby alone in a stroller, especially if the seat is in a flat "carriage" position. Even a young baby can slip through the leg opening, trap her head and die.
- Always securely strap the stroller's seatbelt, making sure the seatbelt fastens and unfastens easily.
- Never use pillows, blankets or quilts as a mattress.
- Always have the brakes in a locked position to prevent rolling when you are stopped.
- Keep your baby away from the stroller when setting it up so little fingers do not get caught.
- Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for setting up and using your stroller or carriage.
- Baby gates installed at the top and bottom of stairs or unsafe areas can prevent injury. Choose gates that have a straight top edge with a mesh screen, or an accordion-style with gaps no more than 1 1/2 inches wide.
- Securely install the gate in the doorway or stairway. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for installing and using the gates.
- Avoid gates that have large V-shaped or diamond shaped openings between the slats. A baby could get her head caught in an accordion-style gate. These kinds of gates may still be found at yard sales or thrift stores.
Baby walkers are dangerous. They can tip over, roll down stairs or put your baby in unsafe situations (such as near a stove or fireplace). Baby walkers can also slow your baby's walking development.
If you decide to use a baby walker, follow these safety precautions.
- Block off all staircases or unsafe areas (such as a garage, kitchen or work room).
- Keep your baby away from area rugs, uneven floors or anything that may cause the walker to tip over.
- Clear objects from tables, countertops or stove tops.
- Remove plastic labels and decals (including the company brand name) from the walker. These can be a choking hazard. (Do not remove permanent warning labels.)
- Always watch your baby carefully in the baby walker to prevent injury. Keep him away from fireplaces, radiators and space heaters.
- If you choose to use a changing table, use a wide, sturdy table.
- If you have a used changing table, check it over thoroughly for peeling paint, exposed nails, splinters, or a missing safety belt.
- Never leave your baby alone on a changing table.
- Keep one hand on your baby when changing the diaper.
Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, sixth edition, preg-ahc-90026, ISBN 1-931876-25-8
First published: 11/30/2006
Last updated: 08/22/2011
Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts