Did you know that September is officially Baby Safety Month? This little-known but important celebration seeks to educate parents and caregivers about the latest guidelines in baby safety standards, tackling new topics every year, from car rides to safe sleep to playtime and baby proofing.
Working together, our community can help take important strides to keep little ones safe and ensure we are following the latest recommendations from pediatric experts.
Here are some tips for new parents and caregivers to keep babies safe:
While secondhand baby gear from Facebook marketplace at a bargain or a free gently used car seat from a friend may seem like a great idea, occasionally older products (and even some newer ones) may have been recalled due to safety issues.
The best way to check if your baby product is safe is to visit recalls.gov, a collection of six federal agencies that have joined together to create a "one stop shop" for all U.S. government issued recalls. It's especially important to check your baby's sleeping products, such as cribs, bassinets, cradles, play yards, etc., as a safe sleep environment is critical for preventing suffocation or SIDS.
For example, on June 29, 2023, the wood and cloth Canvas Baby Hammock Swing made by CaTeam was recalled under the Safe Sleep for Babies Act due to being a suffocation hazard.
Most new parents can't wait to decorate the nursery! But before bringing baby home, it's important to ensure the home environment is safe and secure. Seemingly innocent furniture or fixtures can be real hazards to little ones.
For example, tip-overs from unsecured dressers, televisions and other large furniture are the leading causes of injury to children, according to the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association website. Loose area rugs or unsecured carpets can trip both toddlers and caregivers holding infants and should be securely taped to the floor. Likewise, cords from window blinds, home gym equipment or even baby monitors can pose strangulation hazards and should be tied up well out of reach.
Burns are another safety concern. When cooking, JPMA recommends turning hot pot handles inward instead of having them stick out from the stove where little hands might reach for them. And of course, you want to make sure you have a working smoke detector and install a temperature guard on the thermostat for your hot water heater.
While most parents don't think twice about reaching for the TV remote, the small, flat batteries found in various electronic devices from flashlights to flameless candles are easily swallowed by curious little crawlers and can cause serious harm if ingested.
Loose change that winds up lodged within the couch cushions is another common culprit and should be placed in a designated money jar high upon a shelf. Similarly, any small magnets from toys or electronics that are swallowed by a child can attract each other and inflict significant internal organ damage, so it's vital to keep all these swallowing hazards well out of reach.
Another seemingly innocent potential hazard lives under the kitchen sink. According to the JPMA website, "It is estimated that thousands of children have been exposed to and injured by laundry and dishwasher detergent packets. Easily mistaken by children as candy, these packets pose a risk to the eyes and, if ingested, to their lives. It is important to keep these items out of reach of children."
One strategy is to get down on your hands and knees and crawl around your house, car or other environments where crawling babies may venture. From this viewpoint, you can see what your baby sees and catch any potential hazards.
All these dangers can be easily avoided; as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! To become a "baby safe ambassador" and receive more great safety tips, baby safety checklists, videos and other resources, please visit JPMA's website at: jpma.org