The moment that little line turns blue on the stick, your whole world changes. And while most moms-to-be know about putting plugs in the electrical sockets and locks on the kitchen cabinets, have you gotten down on your belly and really looked at your home from baby level? Even the most responsible person can still miss a few things. Parenting isn't, after all, an exact science, and there are likely things that can harm your infant without you even realizing it.
1. Hot Water
Most people remember to turn down their water heater when they have a new baby (and if you haven't, go check it,) but don't forget about water in hoses and in baby pools. We know of at least one mom who scalded her baby on a summer day, causing third-degree burns over much of his body because she didn't realize that the water in the hose was well over the boiling point. Always run a hose or a faucet first, and check it yourself before putting baby in the water. It's also important to always feel a baby pool's temperature before placing him or her in it.
2. Car Seat Accidents
Car seats are often used as carriers, but many people don't realize the danger your baby is in by being carried around in the car seat or from you using the car seat in a shopping cart. Car seats have only one purpose - to be used to keep your child safe in the car. You should not be placing car seats in shopping carts.
According to Debra Holtzman, author of The Safe Baby, shopping carts can tip over easily, especially if there's a car seat mounted on them. "The cart has a narrow wheel base in relation to its height, so the center of gravity is affected when you put a child in it," she says. "When your child's car seat is on top of it, the center of gravity is affected even more, increasing the chances of tipping."
Most car seats are now designed to not fit on a shopping cart. Wear your baby in a wrap in stores - it's much safer and baby will be much happier. Babies are not luggage after all! Car seats are also not safe for baby to nap in. Babies who have been left unattended in car seats to sleep have been found dead with straps around their necks after they worked their way down in the seat. Or, because of the way they were positioned, they died from asphyxiation. Always leave an unattended baby to sleep on his back in a crib with no other bedding in the crib with him. Also, never put your baby in her car seat or on a table or counter. Just because babies are in their seats does not mean they are safe from a fall!
3. Heavy Items
One of the things many of us parents miss is thinking that babe is safe if items are above. According to the Culture of Safety, "falling shelves and bookcases are a common problem." We often think that TVs, big lamps or vases or other items are fine as long as they are high up. But it doesn't take much for a crawling baby to pull up on the furniture and tip it over. A bookshelf that's been in place for years could topple over on a baby who pulls up on it. A tablecloth or runner could pull down the lamp or bowl that's sitting on top of the dresser or table. Make sure that all tall furniture, especially if it has something like an old-school (i.e. heavy) TV or other objects on top, is anchored to the wall. If you live in earthquake prone areas, be sure that cabinets are secured as well. A good test is to see if you can rock a furniture item, even slightly, with a fairly firm pull. If you can move it with your hands, baby might be able to as well.
4. Shopping Cart Dangers
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 100,000 children under the age of five were injured in shopping carts between 2008 and 2012. Letting a child stand in a shopping cart can lead to a concussion or other injury should the child fall out or pull the cart over reaching for something. If a child is sitting in a cart, make sure she is using the buckle and sitting in a way appropriate for that cart. Even in the one or two seconds that you turn around to look at something on a shelf can be a second that leads to disaster.
5. Be Careful in the Kitchen!
We know of one mom whose son once made himself some noodles for lunch and turned around with them, only to smash into his younger brother who was walking into the kitchen. The younger boy suffered major burns (from the boiling broth) and spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital. This kind of accident, though, could happen with an adult too. If your little one is crawling around on the floor behind you while you are at the stove or sink, you could easily trip and burn yourself or your child with that pot full of hot water, so it's important to be mindful at all times in the kitchen.
6. Chemical Danger
We all know that cleaning supplies are bad for a babe to be around, but we often don't think about what they leave behind. Lingering cleaning chemicals left on the floor, toys, or other surfaces can cause danger to your babe. Babies suck on everything and put anything they can find in their mouth. Chemical cleaners will all find their way into your babe's body one way or another. Be sure to clean your carpets with steam only, use vinegar on surfaces, and spray your furniture with essential oils instead of chemicals. There are all sorts of natural cleaning alternatives investigate you can investigate. Remember, clean isn't always clean.
7. Fido and Fifi
Even the sweetest little dog can become a hazard if your little one isn't as friendly as he should be. Recognize first that it's not your pets fault. If a pet hasn't been around small children, they have no frame of reference for how a child acts. Recognize, too, that some dogs are predisposed to snap or even hunt when they hear a loud pitched noise, like a baby's cry. Such sounds can really set certain dogs into attack mode. Make sure to spend some time preparing your dog for the new arrival. And ALWAYS supervise your pet with your baby, even if you think all is well. It only takes one time for something bad to happen and for a lifetime of distrust of animals (or for your pet, humans) to occur. As baby grows, teach her to respect her dog or cat and treat him appropriately. Consult an animal behaviorist or dog trainer for any concerns you have.
8. Tub Fun
The tub is a great way to calm a cranky baby at the end of the day, but it is also a risky place to play. We all know not to leave a baby alone in the tub, even for second, but what about once baby is active and wanting to stand and crawl all over? First, get the baby a secure tub seat so she can splash and play without danger. This does not mean, however, that you can leave baby alone in that seat. Babies are expert escape artists and are excellent at finding ways to get out of wherever we put them! Keep baby occupied with toys and keep the bath moving along if it appears that your babe is not able to sit still for a bit. Essential oils added to the tub can also calm a crabby baby and make the experience of bath time all that more pleasant.
9. Rusty Grandparents
Child-free friends and rusty grandparents can pose unexpected risks to your baby, especially as she grows. Bringing a play yard along is, of course, a quick solution, but if you don't have one or made spontaneous plans, you can fashion a quick play yard out of kitchen chairs laid down on the floor and a quick sweep through your baby's designated play area. Keep a stash of outlet covers in your baby bag, as well as any other items that you can use to keep baby happy on the go!
10. Stroller Hazards
We always think of strollers as being a perfectly safe place for baby, but we have had more than one fold up on a kid, while we walked along or if we hit a bump in the pavement. Make sure you understand your stroller before you put your baby in it. Practice folding it up one-handed (hold a stuffed animal in one arm to practice,) and make sure you know where the brakes are and how to lock them in place and unlock them. Also be sure you know where the pinch spots are because little fingers will find them!