Preparing for baby’s arrival

Baby proof your vehicle and your house before bringing the new arrival home

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis discusses how to keep your baby safe – even before he or she arrives.

It’s never too early to consider your child’s safety. Injuries are rarely accidents, in the sense that most injuries are preventable. Make your environment safer by removing the opportunities for injuries to occur – ahead of time. The following includes the most common safety concerns, and the things you can do to help your child avoid injuries.

Infant car seats

Professionally install an officially approved, properly sized infant car seat of modern design. Stories of parents having a car accident on the way home with their newborn are not unheard of. If someone slams on the brakes of the car you’re riding in at just 30 km/h, a baby held in your arms weighing just 10 pounds will suddenly seem to weigh over 200 pounds. You won’t be able to hang on – which is why a professionally installed car seat should be waiting for your baby before his or her arrival.

A note of warning: The explosive impact from a deployed passenger side air bag can seriously injure a child, even if he or she is in an infant car seat. If the front passenger seat of your car is equipped with an air bag, place your infant’s car seat in the back seat – never in front – at least until passenger seat air bags are redesigned to safely accommodate infant car seats.

Fire prevention

After traffic-related injuries, residential fires are the next leading cause of injury-related deaths. Averting such tragedies starts with the installation of at least one smoke detector on each floor of your home.

Smoke detectors are highly effective life-saving devices, but only if they work properly. Use quality batteries and change them every six months. It’s one of the best investments of time and money you can make for your whole family. Also install and learn to operate fire extinguishers, and never smoke in bed.

Crib safety

When buying a crib, make sure that it’s of solid construction and has no places where a little head or limbs could be pinched or trapped – for instance between a mattress and its frame, or between crib bars.

To prevent suffocation, make sure that the mattress is firm (not soft), with holes that allow air to circulate. For the same reason, children younger than one year should never sleep with pillows or thick duvets and should not be placed on their stomach to sleep.

Diaper changing tables

Falls from a changing table are not uncommon even among very young babies, so tables should always be equipped with effective guard rails. Also, keep all the supplies you need within reach of the table so that you won’t have to leave the baby unattended, even for a few moments.

General home safety

The following are some general safety measures which will help keep your newborn safe for months, and even years ahead as she becomes increasingly mobile.

  • Install stair guards at the top and bottom of stairways to prevent falls until your child can walk well.
  • Install window guards that will stop a child from falling out, but can also be opened in case of fire.
  • It’s also a good idea to install child-resistant cupboard and drawer latches, and electrical outlet covers.
  • Store all sharp objects, poisonous substances and medications far from baby’s reach.
  • And last but not least, regularly get down on your hands and knees to gain a small child’s perspective. Look for and remove any potential hazards that may be within baby’s reach.