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Rethinking Safe Baby Products and Home Baby-Proofing

When you have a baby, it sometimes seems like there are dangers everywhere. But some of these dangers are unexpected. Toys, clothing, and even bedding pose choking and other hazards, and some items marketed for babies may not actually be safe. Here are some baby items that may cause problems, and home baby-proofing tips to keep your child safe.

Keeping the House Safe: Your Guide to Baby-Proofing

Baby walkers

You can still find baby walkers in stores, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), thousands of babies each year end up in the hospital from walker accidents. These wheeled devices can tumble down stairs, and they help babies reach high enough to pull down tablecloths or grab pot handles from the stove or countertop. Their use around swimming pools also poses a drowning hazard.

Safe toys for infants

Most people know that toys with small parts are a choking hazard for babies. Additionally, some painted toys can be toxic if put into a baby’s mouth. Save the painted toys until your baby is out of the teething phase. Avoid toys that make loud noises, for your own sanity and to protect the baby’s hearing. Small batteries — such as hidden button batteries — can be fatal if swallowed by an infant so it is best to remove these from toys.

Crib safety

Cribs are fun to decorate with matching sheets, bumpers, and blankets. But these additional items are not safe for babies younger than 12 months. Suffocation is one cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

For safety, use only a tightly fitted sheet in your infant’s crib to prevent suffocation. Keep the cute blankets and stuffed animals elsewhere in the room, and don’t buy or install crib bumpers. To make sure your baby is warm enough when sleeping, use a one-piece blanket sleeper or sleep sack with no hood.

Safe clothing for babies

People ooh and aah over cute baby clothes, but safety should outweigh fashion. Avoid clothing with loose strings, such as the drawstrings on a hood, that can become wrapped around the baby’s neck, fingers, or a limb.

Snaps are better than buttons, since buttons can pop off and become a choking hazard. Make sure elastic isn’t so tight that it can cut off circulation, especially around the wrists or ankles. Sleep clothing that is too loose can suffocate a child, even during nap time.

Bathing your baby safely

Bathing is great for bonding with your little one. When your baby graduates from a small portable tub to a full-size bathtub — usually around six months of age, when the baby can sit up and support himself or herself — toys and safe baby products definitely improve the experience. As with all toys, bath toys should not contain choking hazards. Follow this guide to safely bathing your baby. Learn more about how to safely bathe your baby. 

The AAP recommends not using a baby bath seat in the bathtub for babies who can move independently, since seats can tip over. Remember: A bath seat won’t prevent drowning. Use only an inch or two of warm (not hot!) water, support your baby with a towel, and always use a non-slip mat. And never leave your baby alone in the bath — even for a few seconds!

Safe household furnishings 

When baby-proofing your home, don’t forget window shade cords and furniture. Even common items such as window shade cords can accidentally get wrapped around a child’s neck. Dressers, bookcases, and television stands can easily be toppled, seriously injuring or killing a curious, climbing child. Consumer Reports suggests anchoring furniture to a stud in the wall; it’s a simple fix that is potentially lifesaving.

Talk to your pediatrician about safe baby products.  If you need to find a pediatrician, call UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at 412-692-5325.