Regardless of your approach to parenting, one thing we can all agree on is the importance of child safety. News of recalls and child injuries continue to occur, however. When using any of the following equipment, take a look to make sure your child is in safe keeping.
Driving with your baby or child on board shouldn’t be more stressful than it already is! Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reports that car accidents are one of the leading causes of death for young children. A secure car seat offers your kids the best protection in the event of an accident. So, it’s essential you have the right equipment and that you are using it correctly. Avoid buying a second-hand car seat because you can’t be sure it hasn’t been in an accident. Both of these factors are critical to your child’s safety in the event of a crash. Also, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation as well as the product’s height and weight limits.
These are the four main types of car seats and how to use them:
- REAR-FACING – Babies and toddlers should face the rear as long as possible until they outgrow the height or weight limits specified on the car seat
- FORWARD-FACING – Once children outgrow a rear-facing seat, they should stay in a forward-facing seat until they exceed the height or weight limit stated on it
- BOOSTER – Older children who can use a seat belt, but need to sit higher for the seatbelt to fit correctly should use a booster car seat
- SEAT BELT – Once kids are tall enough to sit on a passenger seat (with the seat belt in a safe position), a car seat is no longer required.
With any of these seats, check that the clips or seat belt are in the right place every time:
- Clips should be clasped at the armpit level
- Seat belts should lie across your child’s lap with the top across the chest and shoulder (not across the neck or face)
- If you would like to have your installed car seat inspected for accuracy, check here by zip code
SOURCE: Graphic from nhtsa.gov
Cribs and Child Safety
Babies spend a great deal of their time sleeping — make sure they are safe! Thanks to the new Safe Sleep for Babies Act — which took effect June 23, 2022 — inclined sleepers and crib bumper pads are no longer being sold in the U.S. for safety reasons. In addition, any baby product marketed for sleep MUST follow the same federal safety standards as traditional cribs.
The most important thing you can do is to provide a safe sleep environment. Follow these American Academy of Pediatric (AAP) recommendations for the first year of life to keep your baby safe:
- Place Baby on her back for every sleep session, including naps
- Baby should always sleep on a firm, flat sleep surface
- Use a crib, bassinet or pack-and-play in your room for at least the first six months
- Make sure your baby’s sleep product meets current federal safety standards
- Never let a baby sleep on an adult bed, a couch/chair or a surface that raises his head. One exception is when baby falls asleep in the car. But it is important to take him out of the car seat as soon as you arrive at your destination.
- Keep soft objects away from baby’s sleep area — no blankets, pillows, bumpers, soft toys, mattress toppers, fur-like materials, etc.
- Offer a pacifier while baby is falling asleep
- Dress baby in layers for warmth (instead of using blankets) but watch for overheating —keep hats off for sleep and dress Baby in only one more layer than you would need
- Wearable blankets or sleep sacks are a helpful top layer but avoid products that restrict your baby’s movement. Weighted sleep sacks or anything that puts weight on the chest is not safe.
- Stop swaddling for sleep once your baby shows signs that she is ready to roll from back to tummy, typically before 3 – 4 months old
Crib safety tips come from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):
- Use a firm, tight-fitting mattress so Baby cannot get trapped between the mattress and the crib
- Make sure there are no missing, loose, broken or improperly installed screws, brackets or other hardware on your crib or mattress support
- Be certain that there are no more than two-and-three-eighths inches (about the width of a soda can) between crib slats so a baby’s body cannot fit through the slats
- No corner posts over 1/16th inch high so Baby’s clothing cannot catch
Child Safety and Changing Tables
As your baby grows and is able to roll around, sit up, stand or play around, it’s more challenging to change his diaper. A safe changing table is essential to keep your baby secure and tp help reduce the risk of falls. The table should have a guardrail at least two inches high around it, and the changing pad should have raised sides to prevent easy rolling. Use the strap with a buckle to keep your baby secure, but don’t rely on it solely. Also, keep all diaper supplies within reach, so you never have to leave your baby’s side. Like any equipment, make sure the changing table is put together correctly and be aware of the manufacturer’s recommended weight limits.
Swings & Rockers
More than two million infant swings and rockers were recalled in August of this year because of strangulation after a baby died and another was rescued from entanglement.
Here’s what you should know about swing safety, according to the AAP:
- Do not let your baby sleep in an infant swing; if she falls asleep, transfer her to a firm, flat sleep surface.
- If your baby is under 4 months old, have him sit in the most reclined position on the swing; this decreases the chance of them falling forward and possibly suffocating.
- Make sure your baby swing can’t tip over easily; make sure it can’t fold up easily either.
- Baby seats that can be used at a 50 degree angle or more should also have shoulder straps to keep your baby in place; always use the provided shoulder straps on the baby swing, and make sure you are using them correctly.
- Do not use baby toy mobiles that your baby can pull off.
- Consult the weight limits on your baby swing and don’t put your baby in the swing if he is too heavy.
- Check to make sure the cradle of the swing stays mostly flat while the swing is in motion and while it is still.
Further, the CPSC advises parents not to let infants fall asleep in baby rockers since there have been 13 reported deaths associated with reclining devices. The reclining position can put a baby at suffocation risk and goes against guidelines set forth by the AAP, which specifies that infants should sleep on their backs in an empty crib or bassinet. For tips on using infant swings, go here.
Baby rockers are marketed as comfy, but they are not the safest place for a baby to sleep. If you do use a rocker, be sure to:
- Always put the rocker on the floor, no other surface
- Supervise Baby at all times
- Strap your baby in
- Don’t move the rocker when your baby is in it
- Be aware of the product’s weight limits
- Know where your rocker came from and be sure the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association certification is on the product
Again, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s stated weight limit and to use your strollers according to their directions. Use only jogging-style strollers for running or faster activity. Also, make sure your stroller is set up correctly, and re-tighten bolts and other parts occasionally as well. Check tire alignment and inflation levels regularly, if applicable.
If using a car seat with the stroller, only use car seats that are made to go with your specific stroller. Then make sure the seats are correctly installed and securely clicked before using. Never leave your child unattended in a stroller, and always buckle her correctly. Allow only one child per seat and make sure she’s sitting down at all times (unless the stroller has an area designed specifically for standing). When not in motion, use the stroller locks to prevent it from rolling away. Many strollers, particularly jogging strollers, have a wrist strap you should wear in case the stroller does start to move for any reason.
It isn’t possible to eliminate all potential risks to little ones. So the best way to keep children safe is for you to be present and aware when equipment is in use. Be sure to check regularly for product recalls. New purchases should come with postcard forms to send back to the company for alerts of any recalls with the product. Also, periodically check equipment to make sure it’s in good shape, and don’t leave young children unsupervised.