Before you bring your newborn home, there are a number of precautions you should take to ensure that every room provides a safe environment for baby.
An important first step is to check the smoke alarms. If necessary, install new ones near where the baby sleeps. A good way to remember to change their batteries is to do so when the clocks change in the spring and fall, or on your baby's whole and half birthdays.
Also, consider investing in a carbon monoxide alarm, which warns you if dangerous levels of the deadly fumes are in your house. This is particularly important if you use liquid fuels or rely on the fireplace for heat. Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, and emergency phone numbers written on a sticker on every telephone.
In the bathroom, always test the water temperature in baby’s tub using a thermumeter or a tub toy that turns a bright colour if the water is too hot. A newborn’s bath shouldn’t be warmer than 85 degrees. While bathing her never turn away or leave your child alone for even a second, as babies and toddlers can drown in any amount of water. To avoid slips keep your eyes and at least one hand on baby at all times. Before taking her out of the bath, wrap her in a towel to reduce slipperiness.
Now that baby’s had her bath, she ready for bed. Do you know how to keep her safe while she sleeps? One of the most important things you can do for her is to put her to sleep on her back, which reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. If you’re breastfeeding and you don’t smoke, your baby is in the lowest risk group for SIDS.
New parents are often concerned about keeping baby warm, but too many layers of clothing and blankets can cause overheating, which is also associated with SIDS. If baby's in warm clothes, no blanket is needed. If baby's in thin pyjamas, a thin blanket tucked below her chest is fine. As for swaddling, it's comforting for many infants, but once she falls asleep, gently unwrap the receiving blanket or move it down below her chest. Another way to reduce SIDS risk is to keep the room at about 72 degrees.
Fluffy blankets or pillows are smothering hazards and should never be in your child's cot. Other threats: An outdated cot (one whose slats are more than 2 3/8 inches apart, which could collapse or catch baby); or a mattress that's too soft (another suffocation risk).
Also, avoid danger spots within reach of your baby. In a few months, your little athlete will be standing while holding the cot rails, and things like plants, artwork, lamps or even blinds (the string is a strangulation hazard) become dangerous. Don't hang the cot mobile too low—it should be 10 to 12 inches over the cot for a newborn—or put a cot mattress too high for your older child, as she could climb the rail and tumble out.
Check with your local fire department to see if you can get a 'baby finder' sticker for the window nearest to where baby sleeps. If you didn’t receive a baby monitor as a shower gift, look into purchasing one so you can keep tabs on your little one at all times.
As baby grows, safety gates become more important. Use only gates that are attached or are rigid; the folding kind or those with tension attachments are unsafe. They ensure that rooms that haven't been thoroughly baby-proofed stay off-limits. Gates can also be used to just make sure that baby stays in the same room as you.
If you have pets you want to keep away from your infant, it's better to use your safety gate to keep the pets out of the room than to raise baby off the floor and perch the infant seat on a counter. The safest place for a baby in a seat is always on the floor.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.