As a new parent, there can be a lot to juggle. Bringing a child into your family is a beautiful and expansive experience. However, it also changes the dynamic of your day-to-day life. On top of healing from labor and delivery, new moms and dads can struggle with postpartum anxiety and depression.
With emotions running high, sleepless nights, and balancing life with the regimented schedule of a new baby, it can be easy for some common baby safety tips to slip your mind. Whether you’ve read all the baby books or are less familiar with common baby safety, these 10 tips will definitely ease your mind and help keep your baby safe and healthy.
10 Limit Babies’ Sun Exposure
A family vacation, beach day, or pool party with your new baby can sound like an amazing way to create new memories with your family. However, infants have very sensitive skin and should be kept out of direct sunlight if they are under six months old.
According to NHS, babies’ skin contains very little melanin, which is the pigment that gives skin color. Melanin provides some protection from the sun but is not enough for infants. The sun is most intense between 10 am and 4 pm and so it’s good to avoid direct sun exposure at these times and find a spot in the shade.
9 Check The Car Seat
According to Safe Kids, the backseat is the safest place for children under the age of 13 to ride. Some new parents may make the mistake of installing their infant’s rear-facing car seat in the front passenger seat. However, it is much safer for babies to ride in the back of a vehicle because, in the case of a collision, they are less likely to be thrown into the car’s dashboard or windshield.
Ensuring that the car seat is installed correctly and securely is something that many new parents know to prioritize. Unfortunately, the process of installation can be overwhelming and intimidating.
Many new parents believe they followed the directions in the user manual, only to discover that a certain strap or clip wasn’t right. Luckily, there are educational classes that can be taken and local services to ensure proper installation.
8 Leave The Crib Empty
Having pillows, blankets, toys, or stuffed animals in the crib with your new baby may be tempting for new parents. While it can look cute to see your little one next to their fluffy friends or covered in their personal baby blanket, experts agree that an empty crib is advised because those other items can pose a suffocation risk to your new baby.
According to Parents, blankets, pillows, loose sheets, and stuffed animals are all suffocation hazards for babies under one year old. Dressing your baby in layers, sleep sacks, or wearable blankets while placing them in a bare crib is the safest way for infants to sleep.
7 Introduce Single-Ingredient Foods
Introducing your baby to solid foods can be an exciting but also nerve-wracking experience. Every parent wants their child to be a good eater and consume the nutrients that their bodies require. However, there are many horror stories out there where babies have reactions to certain foods.
Instead of allowing that fear to consume you as a new parent, there are simple strategies that can be taken in order to introduce new foods to your baby in a safe and healthy way. According to Eat Right, doctors do not recommend starting your baby on solid foods before four months or after six months old.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also advise new parents to only introduce one single ingredient food to their baby at a time. Waiting three to five days between each new food will allow time to see if there is a reaction.
6 Avoid Carrying Baby With Hot Liquids
When babies reach three to five months old, they begin to wave their fists around and make attempts to grab at things. Therefore, it is advised to never carry your baby while you are also carrying hot liquids like coffee and tea or hot food.
While it may be tempting to try and juggle multiple items at once to reduce the number of trips up and down the stairs, it’s simply not worth risking your newborn baby getting burned. Even the outside of coffee mugs can store heat and burn your baby.
According to Healthy Children, if your baby does get burned, immediately put the burned area under cold water for a few minutes to provide relief and cool the burn-off. Then, wrap that area of skin loosely with a bandage or cloth and call your doctor.
5 Baby Wearing Risks
There is nothing cuter than seeing an adorable baby strapped to a new parent. It’s also clear how convenient baby-wearing can be for new parents since it allows them to use both of their hands to accomplish tasks.
However, there are some safety guidelines to follow when it comes to using a sling or baby carrier. First, it should not be used on pre-term babies or those with low birth weights as it poses a higher risk of suffocation. It is also important to ensure that the sling is secure. If it is too tight, it can obstruct your baby’s airways and if it’s too loose, they might fall out.
A good hip position for your baby is also imperative since babies have loose joints and ligaments. They could be at risk of hip dysplasia if the baby carrier isn’t supporting their thighs. Very Well Family explains that the infant’s legs should be in an M position, with their legs higher than their butt.
4 Wrapping The Swaddle Too Tight
If you’ve watched videos of doctors or professionals wrapping newborn babies in swaddles, you can see that they are pretty snug. Snug swaddles provide a sense of security for your baby and mimic the comfort and warmth of the womb.
However, if a swaddle is too tight, it can pose a suffocation risk. Swaddles that are too tight can also prevent your baby from straightening or bending their legs, which can hurt their hips and joints.
According to Breathable Baby, parents should be able to place two to three fingers between the baby’s chest and the swaddle. If they can’t, it’s too tight. If they can do more, it’s too loose.
3 Baby Proof Your Travel
Traveling with a newborn can be an overwhelming and exhausting experience. Simply remembering to pack a mini nursery in your baby bags can be a daunting task. Let alone managing the logistics of a long car ride or flying on a plane with your newborn.
While it’s easy to focus on the basic baby travel necessities like clothes, diapers, and a portable crib, it can be easy for new parents to overlook the possible risks of where they are staying.
Remembering to bring cleaning wipes for the hotel room, a blanket for your baby to play on the floor, outlet covers, and a toilet lid latch are some great ways to babyproof your hotel room.
2 Storing Breast milk After Expressing
Breastfeeding and pumping can feel like a full-time job for a new mom. There can be frustration around getting your baby to latch, possible struggles with mastitis, and juggling the logistics of pumping your breast milk.
With how tired and exhausted parents can be during the early newborn days, it can be easy for certain safety tips to be overlooked. For example, many tired new moms may pump their breast milk and set it on the counter, then get distracted and lose track of time.
According to the CDC, breast milk can only sit out at room temperature for four hours. It’s extremely important that pumped milk that was forgotten about, misplaced, or overlooked for longer than four hours be dumped. As tempting as it may be to keep that liquid gold, it’s not worth making your baby sick.
1 No More Weighted Blankets Or Hats
The new infant safe sleep guide has updated its recommendations in order to reduce sleep-related infant deaths. The new guidelines recommend against any sort of weighted blankets, swaddles, sleep sacks, or hats for sleeping babies.
They also warn against placing hats on infants indoors unless it is the first few hours of life or your baby is in the NICU. The recommendation states:
“Given the questionable benefit of hat use for the prevention of hypothermia and the risk of overheating, it is advised not to place hats on infants when indoors.”
Sources: The Denver Channel, CDC, The Points Guy, Breathable Baby, Stanford Children, Very Well Family, Healthy Children, Eat Right, Parents, Safe Kids, NHS