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Safety for a young baby

How to keep your baby safe in the early months


Posted: 28 November 2008
by ThinkBaby

When you first hold your baby you'll probably be amazed at how real and yet how fragile he is. This little person is now entirely dependent on you and the care you take to keep him safe: You can't prepare for and avoid all accidents and learning not to obsess over safety is part of the journey of parenthood, but there is plenty you can and should do to guard against common accidents.

While feeding

  • Don’t drink hot drinks when you’re breastfeeding, if you don’t want a cold drink then try something warm
  • When bottle feeding hold the bottle at all times and control the angle to moderate the flow to suit your baby
  • If baby is with you at the table watch out for what is within his grasp

Avoid tumbles

  • Your baby can quickly wriggle or roll off furniture and you won’t know when exactly his first roll will be, so don’t turn your back for even a moment if you’ve laid him on a bed, sofa or chair. The only safe surface to leave your baby on if you turn away is the floor.
  • If you change your baby on a changing surface that’s not on the floor then keep one hand on your baby at all times

Sleep-time

  • Use a flat, firm mattress for your baby to sleep on
  • Put your baby to sleep on his back with his feet against the bottom of the bed
  • Make sure your baby is neither too hot nor too cold – overheating is most common at night – check his temperature by placing your hand on his chest rather than checking his hands or feet
  • Only use natural fibres for your baby’s bedding, layer bedding so you can easily take layers off or on and use flat, fitted sheets underneath
  • Don’t use a pillow in the cot
  • Avoid cot bumpers when your baby is still young and keep soft toys out of the cot
  • Keep the cot away from anything overhead that could fall or be pulled into it
  • Never take your baby into bed with you if you’ve taken drugs or alcohol or if you are a heavy sleeper

In the bathroom

  • Take especial care handling your baby when he’s wet: he’ll be slippy and will probably wriggle
  • Babies can drown in just an inch of water, so never leave him alone in the bath or bathroom
  • Be very careful with your baby near taps as they can get very hot. When drawing a bath start off with cold water and add hot later. You might want to consider turning down your thermostat to help prevent accidental scalding.
  • Use a non-slip mat in the bath and shower and on the bathroom floor

Travelling

  • It’s illegal and very unsafe to travel with a baby in a car without a baby seat. For newborns these are rear fitting and you’ll need to change seats as your baby grows. Make sure your baby is strapped in properly and the seat is secure before you set off.
  • Don’t put a baby seat on the front seat if your car is fitted with airbags
  • Use the child lock on your car
  • Don’t leave your baby alone in the car
  • On warm or very sunny days take care to keep the sun out of his eyes and prevent him overheating. Sunshades can be fitted to rear car windows but are illegal in the front seat

Outdoors

  • In hot or sunny weather screen your baby with a sunshade, loose clothing and a sun hat
  • If your baby will be exposed to the sun keep the exposure to a minimum and use a high-factor sunscreen
  • Make sure your baby is strapped in before carrying him in a chair or when he’s in his pushchair
  • Be alert as to what is within your baby’s reach

As your baby becomes mobile the dangers he faces will increase considerably as his natural curiosity leads him to explore, pull on things, climb and, where possible, put things in his mouth. Read what we have to say about child-proofing your home.


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SIDS - What it is and how you can reduce the risk

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