A safe environment in which your baby can move and play freely promotes physical development. By staying one step ahead of her with preventive measures, you can minimize potential dangers.
Accidents are the top health hazard that children face today. One of the main challenges of parenting is finding a balance between keeping your child safe and allowing her to explore her abilities. In her first three years, she has three major shifts in her physical development—shifts to crawling, walking, and climbing—which call for three major shifts in childproofing her environment. While adult supervision is the most effective way to prevent accidents, you can provide your baby freedom of movement by making her surroundings safe.
- In the crib—Make sure your baby’s crib bars are no more than 2 3⁄8 inches apart. The mattress must be firm, and it must fit snugly in the crib with a tight-fitting mattress pad and sheet. Do not put comforters, pillows, bumper pads, or toys in the crib with your baby. A sleep bag or a lightweight swaddling blanket is best. Place your baby on her back in the crib.
- In the bath—Check bathwater to make sure it is not too hot or too cold. Use a rubber mat or seat to prevent slipping. Put a cover over the spout. Never leave your baby alone in the tub.
- In the kitchen and at mealtimes—Choking while eating is the biggest safety hazard for babies. Make sure to offer appropriate foods in bite-size pieces.
- At play—Choose toys that are age appropriate and made of safe materials. Babies put everything in their mouths, so make sure your baby’s toys are large enough that they do not pose a choking hazard. Also, check toys for pointy parts that could harm your baby.
- On the go—Install and use your car seat. Never leave your baby unattended in a car. In hot weather, make sure she stays hydrated, protected from the sun, and cool enough.
- In case of emergency—Post a list of emergency numbers on your refrigerator door, on your computer desktop, and on your cell phone. Include the numbers of your baby’s doctor, a local ambulance service, the nearest hospital emergency room, the poison control center, and the fire and police departments. If an accident happens, you will be prepared and save valuable time.