Baby-Proof Habits

In addition to baby-proofing your house, you should baby-proof yourself and other family members. Take a look at your habits. Do you do anything automatically that could spell trouble for your baby? What about your spouse, other children, parents, friends, and anyone else that is in your home on a regular basis? Replacing a dangerous habit with a safe practice could avoid a possible life-threatening tragedy.

The following are just a few of the habits that you can correct (or never establish in the first place) to make your child’s life safer:

  • Do not allow smoking in the house. Children exposed to smoke in their homes have more colds and upper respiratory infections, and miss more school than those in nonsmoking households.
  • Do not drink or pass hot beverages while your child is nearby or on your lap.
  • Do not leave your baby in a drop-side playpen with the side lowered. He can roll into the space between the pad and the loose mesh side, and possibly suffocate. The best kind of playpen has a firm lower edge in which an infant cannot be entrapped.
  • Never leave your baby or small child alone in the tub.
  • Never leave your baby alone on the changing table or on any other high surface.
  • Do not leave your infant unattended in a bassinet if you have other small children. They could try to pick up the baby or rock the cradle.
  • Avoid the use of walkers. They can result in serious injuries.
  • Never drape clothes or blankets over the side of the crib because they can fall or be pulled over the baby’s head.
  • Do not use a cord to tie rattles or pacifiers to your baby’s clothes or to tie a pacifier around his neck.
  • Purchase pacifiers that cannot possibly come apart. Solid, one-piece molded plastic ones are the safest. Check them periodically for deterioration. Never use the top and nipple from a baby bottle as a pacifier.
  • Bathtub Safety Do not assume that your child is safe in an infant bathtub seat. A number of children have drowned when left alone in one. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the seats are safe when used properly. However, if children are left alone in the seats, they can "tip the seats over, slide into the water through the leg openings and climb out of the seats into the water, posing the risk of drowning."
  • Never give balloons to a baby or small child. An uninflated balloon or pieces from a popped balloon could get stuck in his throat and choke him.
  • When you are cooking, turn the handles of your pots and pans toward the back of the stove.
  • Do not take medication or vitamins in front of your child.
  • Remove your pet’s food dishes from the floor when he has finished eating.
  • When you have visitors or overnight guests, make sure that their purses and suitcases are locked or out of the reach of curious hands.

In addition to baby-proofing your house and yourself, you should also teach your child as soon as possible what is dangerous and what is not. For example, teach him early on what “hot” means.

Make a list of emergency telephone numbers and keep it near the phone or even taped to it. Include your local Poison Control Center, rescue unit, fire department, and police department. Do not forget your pediatrician. Teach your children about 911 and when to call it.

Finally, buy a bottle of syrup of ipecac to induce your child to vomit if he swallows something poisonous. However, use it only on instruction from your doctor or local Poison Control Center. Not everything should be brought back up again.

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