Writer / Dr. Nicole Steber, Riley Hospital for Children Pediatric Hospitalist at IU Health West Hospital
September is National Baby Safety Month. During a baby’s first year, they develop many skills such as how to focus their vision and explore their environment. It’s important to understand how to keep your baby safe.
Take care of your health.
One of the best things we can do for our children is take good care of ourselves. Postpartum anxiety and depression are very common. Talk with your doctor if you are feeling down, stressed or having scary thoughts. It’s normal for babies to cry up to three hours per day, and they are often more awake and fussier at night. It’s important to know that it’s OK to lay them down on their back in their crib and take a break nearby. Don’t hesitate to ask for help whenever possible.
Protect your baby from secondhand smoke.
Infants and young children are extremely vulnerable to the poisons in secondhand smoke. Protect your baby from secondhand smoke by not letting anyone smoke near baby. Make sure your home, car and day care are smoke-free. Anyone who smokes should change clothes before holding baby.
Know your ABCs.
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly encourages safe sleep to decrease the chance of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and suffocation. The ABCs of safe sleep are: Alone on their Back in a Crib (or bassinet). Make sure there are no toys, stuffed animals, pillows or loose blankets in the crib. Be very careful not to fall asleep with your baby, especially near cushions, pillows or blankets.
Optimize nutrition and avoid choking hazards.
For the first four to six months, babies should only have breastmilk and/or formula. Drinking water or other fluids can lead to abnormal electrolyte levels and possibly seizures. After four to six months, it’s OK for babies to have soft table foods like avocados, cooked carrots, bananas and pureed baby foods.
Babies explore their environment with all senses, including putting anything they can reach in their mouth. Make sure any small toys or objects such as pills, magnets or batteries are stored away securely. It’s important to always follow the age recommendation listed on your child’s toys. You may ask a toy store near you which toys are suitable for your child.
Stay up to date with vaccinations.
Routine vaccinations are crucial for your child’s health and safety. Delaying your child’s vaccines leaves them vulnerable to diseases and can cause serious complications. Talk with your child’s pediatrician to make sure their vaccinations are up to date. It’s also important to make sure everyone around your baby is vaccinated.