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Top 10 Infant Safety Issues
in Your Home

As your baby grows, issues of infant safety become more and more relevant.

These simple baby safety guidelines will help educate you on what you should know about keeping your baby safe at home.

The adjustment from immobile to mobile can be shocking. One day your baby seems helpless and harmless, content to stare at the ceiling all day. The next he's exploring the plants and emptying the pantry.

Some foresight and good planning can make that adjustment from immobile to mobile relatively easy.

For some babies, that switch to being mobile happens early. Your baby will develop those skills at his own pace (although you can know when to expect them).

More than 2000 children die every year due to home-related injuries. Most of these are babies under a year old.

Here are the top infant safety issues you should be aware of. They are not listed in a particular order, since any baby safety issue is just as important as the others.

For a more in-depth room-by-room analysis of your home, use this checklist.

Infant Safety Issue #1: Stairs

Get some gates! As your baby grows, he will see those stairs as an irresistible mountain he must climb. Install a good-quality gate at the top and bottom to avoid falling accidents. Always make sure you are close at home when your baby learns to climb the stairs.

If you have a Walker in your home, you must have gates. In 2004 more than 3,900 kids under 4 were treated in the ER for injuries related to baby-walkers. 80% of those children were being supervised. This number is so alarming that the government has recalled many walkers.

Infant Safety Issue #2: Suffocation Hazards

In the 4 years that I've been writing up the recalls for this site, there are a few things as sad as having to report the death of a baby due to suffocation. Sometimes it's because of a recalled crib. Sometimes it's because of a mis-used sling. Whatever the reason, the preventability of the death breaks my heart.

Learn how to use slings properly (watch this Consumer Safety video). Check that your crib has not been recalled. And double, no TRIPLE check that your baby's room is safe.

Safety Issue #3: Choking Hazards

Keep the toys of older children away and out of reach. Magnets are especially dangerous, since they can attract each other inside your baby's tummy, causing perforations, blockages, and even death. Several older kids toys have been recalled due to loose magnets.

If your baby is eating solids, make sure they are no larger than a dime. Babies under 10 months should be given pureed food only. Keep foods soft and mushy until your baby's back teeth are in and available for chewing (around 2 years).

Infant Safety Issue #4: Open Water

Nearly 30 children (mostly infants) die every year from drowning in buckets. Any tall container (like a toling) with water inside is dangerous. Your baby will lean over to explore, fall in, and not be able to pull himself out. Use cleaning buckets and chemicals only when your baby is nappy or being supervised by someone else. Keep a toling lock on the lid to avoid explorations and accidents.

Bath seats do not make your baby safer. The suction cups on the bottom can come off, letting him get trapped UNESCO in the seat. In many cases, the seat made the parent too comfortable, and the baby was unattended for a moment.

An instant is all thats needed for life to change dramatically. Never lower your guard when water is around (indoors or out).

Infant Safety Issue #5: Fires and Burns

Many young children are severely burned by accidentally turning on the hot water in the bathtub. Set your water heater to 120 degrees, or purchase an anti-scald device that will shut the water off if it rises above 120 degrees F.

Don't carry your infant and a hot drink at the same time (unless using a travel mug). A wiggling baby is almost sure to spill that coffee, and her skin is much more sensitive to temperature than yours.

Always have working fire alarms (test monthly) in your home, along with extirpate. Consider and discuss your fire routes to exit the home in case of a fire. Interconnecting the alarms is always a good idea, that way if the one in the basement goes off, the one outside your room will let you know.

infant safety 2
{Photo by Tommy Otago}

Safety Issue #6: Recalled Items

Thousands of products are recalled every year. Strollers, car seats, baby carriers, medicines, playpens, cribs... these are just a handful of the items that have been pulled off the market due to safety issues.

New or old, make sure you are not using recalled baby products that could harm your infant.

Infant Safety Issue #7: Tip-Overs

There were 31 deaths in 2006 (and 3,000 injuries) from furniture tipping over and crushing young children. Furniture, TVs, ovens, bookcases, dressers, etc.

Avoid this by not placing items on top of climbable furniture that will be tempting for your baby to reach. If a bookcase or dresser seems unsteady, use anchors to hold them to the wall.

Safety Issue #8: Windows and Coverings

An average of 12 children die every year from window cords. If your blinds have long cords, either attach them firmly to the base of the window, or purchase a blind winder. A blind winder will be easy for you to reach, but a near impossibility for your infant. Keep cribs or playpens away from dangling items of any kind.

There are 9 deaths and 3,700 injuries to children every year due to window falls. If you have lower windows, don't rely on window screens to keep your baby safe. They are flimsy and easily pushed out. You can purchase window guards, or keep the windows closed enough to avoid falling through.

Infant Safety Issue #9: Houseplants

Balance your home's inner beauty with smart placement and consideration of houseplants. Did you know that some of the most common houseplants are poisonous?

Dangling leaves are a magnet for exploring fingers. One good tug, and the whole pot could come crashing down, seriously hurting him. The dirt and decorative stones can easily cause choking or sickness in your baby if swallowed. Try to tuck the plants into corners your baby cannot wander.

Infant Safety Issue #10: Electricity

Save yourself a heartache by installing covers on your outlets and extension cords. Also, all outlets in the kitchen and bathrooms (or anywhere near water) should be installed with interrupters that will cut the flow of electricity immediately if they get wet.

Never leave cords of curling irons or kitchen appliances dangling over the counter edges. Pudgy little fingers will grasp and pull at them.

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I remember when I saw Lauren take that first army-crawl of an inch. The world shifted. I knew that nothing was ever going to be the same.

This is just the bare-bones version of the casual dangers lurking in your home. Go deeper by considering this more detailed room-by-room checklist.

Infant safety is a serious issue that should be consciously thought out and carefully planned. Your little one is depending on your wisdom and strength to help guide her safely into the years beyond. Take the time to set up your home as a haven where she can grow and explore as safely as possible.

Other Infant Safety Articles in the EiR

If you're looking for information on the important topic of safety, I strongly encourage these three books:

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