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Baby-proofing Tips: Take Steps to Prevent an Accident at Home

In Brief

  • Before bringing your new little bundle of joy home from the hospital, it’s important to make sure that your house is safe for the baby.
  • It’s important to get down to the baby’s level and look at things from a crawler’s point of view. This is the best way to see what things your child may be able to grab or put in their mouth.
  • According to the U.S. National Safety Council, mechanical suffocation and suffocation by ingested objects cause the most home fatalities to children 0-4 years of age.

Before bringing your new little bundle of joy home from the hospital, it’s important to make sure that your house is safe for the baby. Even though they are small, babies and small children can get into a lot of harmful things around the house that can cause serious injuries.

“We recommend, even as early as the baby’s first day home, that you take the appropriate measures to baby-proof the house,” says Richard Z. Kaplan, M.D., chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Delaware County Memorial Hospital. “Before the baby comes home, make sure there are smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors distributed around the home, including in the nursery.”

Before bringing home baby, parents should also make sure that there are no wall hangings near the baby’s crib and make sure that the distance between crib slats is less than 2/3’’. Also, make sure that the crib mattress fits snugly into the crib. Any gaps at the edges can be fatal for a baby if they happen to roll and get stuck. To avoid burns, set the water hearer thermostat at less than 120 degrees F.

As babies grow, so do their abilities to roll around, crawl and get into things around the house.

“Parents should never leave their baby alone on a changing table, bed, couch or any elevated surface,” Kaplan adds. “When the baby starts rolling, it’s a great time to introduce the playpen as a ‘safety’ pen.”

“It’s important to get down to the baby’s level and look at things from a crawler’s point of view,” says Christopher Stenberg, BHB, MBChB, FAAP, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. “This is the best way to see what things your child may be able to grab or put in their mouth.”

According to the U.S. National Safety Council, mechanical suffocation and suffocation by ingested objects cause the most accidental home fatalities to children 0-4 years of age. Parents should consider closing off certain rooms, putting up barriers to stop access, and putting special baby-proof locks on cabinets and drawers. Also, keep plastic bags up high so that little ones can’t access them.

“Parents should search room by room to make sure there aren’t any hazardous chemicals or materials that the baby can get into,” Stenberg says. “Place poisons, medicines and cleansers in a locked cabinet that is up high and out of reach. It’s important to have the poison control phone number posted by the telephone that you use in the house.” 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers the following tips for baby and child-proofing your home:

  • Use stair gates and window guards.
  • Remove furniture with sharp edges or use soft guards.
  • Consider using a wall anchor for the stove and large pieces of furniture, including televisions, that can tip over.
  • Use non-skid backing on rugs and make sure carpets are securely tacked down.
  • Remove breakables from low tables and shelves.
  • Tie cords of blinds, curtains and appliances up out of reach.
  • Do not carry hot liquids or food near your child and do not allow your child near stoves, heaters or other hot appliances (especially curling irons). When cooking, use the back burners and turn pot handles inward.
  • To prevent drowning, empty all water from bathtubs and pails, keep the door to the bathroom closed and never leave your child alone near any container of water.
  • If you must have a gun in the house, keep the gun and bullets separate from one another in a locked place.
  • Be cautious of certain dog breeds (Rottweilers, pit bulls, German shepards) that account for over 50 percent of fatal dog bites, and closely supervise children when in the presence of animals.

To find a Crozer-Keystone pediatrician who’s right for your child, call 1-800-CK-HEALTH (1-800-254-3258) or visit www.crozer.org.

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