Your baby is finally here and the hospital has set you free. Your new family arrives home and you look down at this tiny, new person and think, “Wow. It’s my responsibility to protect this baby and keep him safe.” All of a sudden, you feel an overwhelming urge to find an instruction manual that gives you a step-by-step overview. While there are many books out there claiming to do just that, here are some important points to get you started on bringing up your child in the safest environment possible.
Back to Sleep. The best position to place your baby in when he sleeps is on his back. This position has dramatically reduced the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant less than 1 year of age. Tummy time is great … when baby is awake. Make sure you always put your baby to sleep on her back.
Soothe, Don’t Shake. When your baby cries, it can only mean a few things: he’s hungry, needs a diaper change, doesn’t feel well, or needs to be soothed. Babies love to be held and you won’t spoil a newborn by holding him too much. However, shaking, even what you might think it’s gentle, can cause serious injury or death (also known as Shaken Baby Syndrome). Respond to your baby’s needs in a timely manner. If he needs some calming, sing a song, hold him close, or rock him in a chair. If you are having difficulty soothing your baby these ways, and you are finding that you feel angry or frustrated, seek support and help immediately.
Sleep Safely. Resist the urge to snuggle your new bundle in your bed. While it is seems both inviting and easy, it can be dangerous. Co-sleeping increases the risk of suffocation, entrapment and injury. The best place for baby is in a crib that meets the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. It might be convenient to keep baby in bed with you, but safety should come first. To make things convenient, you can always place your baby’s crib in your bedroom until she starts sleeping through the night.
Crib Safety. The latest crib safety standards include a crib with fixed sides. Cribs that have a drop side present the risk of strangulation and entrapment. Make sure your crib meets the current safety standards. The only item that should be in the crib with the baby is a firm mattress. Toys, baby monitors, and other items have no place in your newborn’s crib.
Ride in Safety. From the day you come home, your baby should be riding safely in a car seat. This seat should be installed rear-facing (and remain that way past her first birthday—either as long as possible or until she reaches the weight/height limit of a rear-facing seat). The seat should always be in the back. Want to check to make sure it’s right before the first ride? Look up the closest inspection site nearest you.
By following these few simple, but important, tips, you can rest assured that your baby will be safe in his new environment.
Do you have further questions about infant safety? Medical Center Arlington offers regular infant safety classes. Please call (817) 472-4787 to find out when the next class is scheduled or visit our online calendar of classes and events.
The Safe Nursery (The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission)
The New Crib Standard: Questions and Answers (CPSC.gov)
Back to Sleep Public Education Campaign (The National Institute of Child Health & Development)