For new parents, a baby’s safety is one of the most important priorities. Most infants’ very early years are spent primarily in the home. But what many new parents fail to realize is that the home can be one of the most dangerous places for a child. Each year, about 1,900 children ages 14 and under die, and nearly 4.5 million are injured where they should feel safest -- in the home. Most deaths are among children ages 4 and under, making it crucial for parents to keep safety top of mind when preparing the nursery.
“Parents can take safety into consideration while at the same time providing an entertaining, attractive and loving environment for a baby,” says Heather Paul, Ph.D., executive director of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. “Parents should be careful both in the selection of the furniture and decoration, including their arrangement and use.”
The National SAFE KIDS Campaign offers the following suggestions for the nursery to help give your baby a healthy and safe start:
If you live in a house or apartment built before 1978, a lead abatement professional should check any painted walls for lead. Your child can get lead poisoning from ingesting or breathing in lead dust or fumes or swallowing anything with lead in it. Lead poisoning in children can cause learning disabilities, hyperactivity and other neurological problems. It is estimated that nearly 1 million children ages 5 and under have blood lead levels high enough to affect intelligence and development.
If there is lead paint in your home, the paint should be completely removed or covered with an approved sealant. Make sure no children or pets are in the house while the lead paint is being removed. Once the lead paint is gone, the walls can either be repainted with latex, plastic-based or enamel paint, or covered with water-resistant wallpaper.
Smooth, washable floors are recommended in nurseries because they are easier to keep clean. If you choose to have wall-to-wall carpeting, select a flat design in a synthetic fiber, such as nylon. Thick, bushy carpets -- such as shag -- can hide dirt, food and small objects that can become a choking hazard to your child. If you use area rugs, be sure they have non-skid backings.
One of the most dangerous pieces of baby furniture is the crib. In fact, approximately 50 infants die each year from crib-related incidents. To help prevent your child from being injured in the crib, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign recommends the following:
Mattresses must fit snugly against all four sides of the crib. If you can fit more than two fingers between the edge of the mattress and the crib, then the mattress is too small. A baby can suffocate if his or her head is trapped between the mattress and crib. Check regularly to ensure that all four mattress support hangers are securely held in hooks attached to the corner posts.
Before placing the mattress in the crib, remove and discard all plastic wrappings. Make sure that your child is unable to climb out of the crib when the mattress is in it. The mattress should be at least 26 inches below the top rails of the drop side. If the mattress is any higher than this, an active baby might be able to climb over the rail.
Dressers, Chests and Changing Tables
Whatever type of furniture you plan to purchase or borrow for your nursery, keep the following in mind:
Crib Toys and Mobiles
Bright and cheerful crib toys and mobiles can provide hours of entertainment for a newborn. However, it is important to keep in mind that some of these items -- including crib gyms that stretch across the crib, and suspended toys, music boxes and mirrors specifically marketed for use in the crib -- can be very dangerous. Hanging toys are particularly hazardous for children who can push up on their hands and knees. By using the following tips, you can provide your child with lots of safe fun.
Childproof the Room
When you aren’t used to having little ones around, the idea of childproofing can seem a little daunting. It’s easy to miss some of the more subtle dangers in the home,” Paul said. Move around the room on your hands and knees. Approach it from a child’s perspective and you’re more inclined to see potential hazards you otherwise might miss.”
Following are a few guidelines for childproofing:
The nursery is the beginning of your child’s journey through life. With careful thought and planning, you can help reduce your newborn’s risk of injury.
For more information about how to childproof your home, please visit The National SAFEKIDS website at www.safekids.org
|The National SAFE KIDS Campaign is the first and only national organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury -- the number one killer of children ages 14 and under. More than 280 State and Local SAFE KIDS Coalitions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico comprise the Campaign. Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, M.D., is chairman of the Campaign.|
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