The moment you become a parent, the world is suddenly dangerous in ways you never noticed before. Every hard flooring could be a concussion to a baby just learning to walk, every small shiny object a chocking hazard, every un-sanitized toy a disease just waiting to infiltrate your child’s body. Sometimes it’s hard to find a balance between being the neurotic parent who chases their child with hand sanitizer and letting them explore and discover the world for themselves, and it can be exhausting trying. The best weapon against anxiety and fear is knowledge, so here are 25 Important Safety Tips Every Parent Should Know To Keep Their Child Safe.
Know The Signs Of Secondary Drowning
Secondary drowning, also known as “delayed drowning,” is when a small amount water gets into a child’s lungs and inhibits their body’s ability to oxygenate blood over time. Symptoms can take hours to appear. Keep a close eye on your child after any incidents in the water, even if they just briefly went under and seem fine. Look for signs your child is trying harder to get oxygen: shallow fast breaths, coughing after you’re out of the water or hours after the event, blue lips, a change in behavior, lethargy. If your child experiences any of these symptoms after playing in water, take them to the ER. Secondary Drowning is quite rare, making up around 1%-2% of all drownings, but it’s still important to be aware of.
Invest In Window And Door Alarms
High locks, deadbolts and door knob covers are important when keeping your curious child safe, but nothing beats hearing every time a door or window is opened. A basic set of wireless entry alarms can be purchased at your local home improvement store starting at around $10, while some nicer whole house systems will cost you around $200-$400.
Know Your Child's Family Medical History
Knowing your child’s family history can help a doctor make a diagnosis should they become ill, as well as help them determine what testing may need to be done routinely or to avoid an allergic reaction. Make sure to keep a record of any major illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, allergies, or genetic conditions on either the mother or father’s side of your child’s family.
Learn The Basics Of Child CPR
CPR saves lives. While it’s a good idea for everyone to know the basics, CPR is very different for infants, children, and adults, so it’s important to be aware and knowledgeable about those differences. There are many places online where you can watch a video, take a course, or find a class near you.
Keep Cleaning Supplies On Top Shelves
A good way to make sure cleaning supplies aren’t a temptation is to keep them out of reach and out sight, either on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet. This rule applies to anything you wouldn’t drink, and almost all of it –from laundry detergent pods to ammonia based window cleaner- is packaged in bright and colorful boxes and bottles, much like toys. In case an accident does happen, keep the number for the American Association of Poison Control Centers taped inside the cabinet or on the shelf where chemicals are stored: 1 (800) 222-1222.
Never Leave Your Child Alone With A Dog, Any Dog.
No matter how much you know, love, and trust your family dog, do not leave a small child alone with them. Even the most well behaved dog may snap when they get their fur pulled in a sensitive spot or have a child take their food. It’s also advisable to make sure all dogs have a safe place they can go (such as their crate or a bedroom) to get away from the attention of children when they need a break.
Learn How To Properly Sanitize Toys, Bottles, and Surfaces.
It’s a good idea to periodically sanitize toys and sippy cups, and to have a routine down for when that favorite something somehow ends up in the cat box or someone gets sick. Most bottles and cups come with instructions on how to sterilize them that usually include boiling on the stove in a large pot for five to fifteen minutes. For plush toys, most can be tossed in a pillow case, tie the end shut, then place the toy in the washer and run on a hot cycle, and lay flat in a warm place to air dry. Plastic toys without batteries can be sanitized by either washing in very hot soapy water, sticking in the dishwasher (top rack), or soaking in a solution of one third of a cup of bleach to one gallon water, rinsed very thoroughly and allowed to air dry. Surfaces can be wiped down with disinfecting wipes or undiluted white vinegar; just make sure that everything is dry before letting baby play.
Practice Sun Saftey
Children of all shades are at risk for sunburn from too much exposure. To practice sun safety with little ones, try to avoid extended periods outside between the hours of 10am-4pm, and make sure to use a kid safe sunblock, reapplying as directed. If your child is fair, a rash guard style long sleeved swimsuit and hat are also good options to consider.
Take A Picture Of Your Child Daily
Most of us take a picture or two of our child with our phones daily anyway, but take one specific one of your child showing their face and what they’re wearing, every day. That way if your child becomes lost, you have a current picture with what they’re wearing that day to show security or police that are helping you locate them.
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Check Bath Toys And Sippy Cups For Mold
Bath toys (particularly any kind that squirt water) and some kinds of sippy cups can harbor mold and mildew. Frequent inspection and occasional sanitizing can take care of this issue. To sterilize bath toys that have gotten moldy you can boil them for a few minutes or soak them in a bleach and water solution (three quarters of a cup of bleach to a gallon of water) and then carefully squeeze out any discolored water or matter that may have taken up residence inside (if using a bleach solution make everything is rinsed very well!). For sippy cups, make sure you disassemble all the parts and that there are no cavities that you cannot see to make sure they’re clean.
Never Leave Your Child Alone In A Car
Every summer, we hear about children left in a hot car, often with very sad outcomes. Take your baby out of the car and into the house first thing when you get home, always. Five minutes goes by quicker than most of us realize, and five minutes in a hot car could be far worse for your baby than for your groceries. Give yourself reminders that you have your child with you, particularly when practicing a change in routine – such a different parent dropping the kids off. These can include: leaving your phone or briefcase in the backseat, setting an alarm on the phone when you should be dropping them off, or having the parent not dropping the child off text you to confirm the child arrived safely at their destination.
Place Your Toddler's Bed On The Floor
The “Montessori Style” nursery for infants and toddlers places their bed directly on the floor instead of a crib or toddler bed. This prevents them rolling out of bed and hurting themselves or climbing out of a crib and falling. When placing your child’s bed on the floor, it is vital that any hazards in their room are removed and all large pieces they could climb on properly anchored to the wall. While there are many options for floor bed frames for toddlers, putting their crib mattress on the floor and making the bed works just as well, no special equipment needed.
Never Leave Your Child Unattended In Or Near Water. Ever.
Drowning is the fifth leading cause of accidental death in the United States, and about 20% of drowning victims are children. It’s the leading cause of accidental death in children between the ages of one and four, and the second leading cause for children between the ages of four and fourteen. Never leave your child unattended in or near water – pools or bathtubs – even for a moment. If you leave, the child leaves with you. If possible, consider getting your infant or small child swimming lessons.
Running With Pointy Things
Always closely supervise when your child is playing with or using something pointy, like toy drumsticks or a pencil, as they can be a serious stabbing hazard if little bodies fall on them.
Secure Mini Blind Cords
Nearly every home in the US built after the mid 90’s has mini blinds in the windows, and with good reason as they’re cheap and neat looking. However, toddlers can get tangled up in the cord (even getting it around their neck) or they can use the cord to pull the blinds out of the frame and down onto themselves. To make your mini blinds child safe, lower the blind all the way and move the plastic grip up the cord as high as you can reach it, then tie a knot right below the grip to prevent it slipping down, and cut off any cord remaining beneath the knot.
Child Proof All Electrical Outlets
Not only are electrical outlets right at infant and toddler level, they’re practically begging for tiny humans just developing their gross motor skills to stick things in them. Things like keys and pens. Basic outlet covers can be purchased for a few dollars at any big box store and sliding electrical plate covers for just a little bit more.
Be Aware Of Lead Paint
Lead poisoning happens when lead enters the bloodstream, either by ingesting lead paint or lead paint dust, or inhaling the fumes or dust of lead paint. Homes built before 1987 may still have lead paint in them, even if the walls have been painted over. While paint, lead or otherwise, in good condition isn’t really a problem, any cracked, chipped or peeling paint may expose lead paint. Older playgrounds, yards, and soil may also contain lead based paint and paint flecks, so be aware of where your child is playing. If you think your child has been exposed to lead paint, ask your pediatrician to order a blood test. Test kits to see if the paint in your home contains lead can be purchased at your local hardware or home improvement store.
The Toilet Paper Tube Rule
If it can fit through a toilet paper tube, it can go down a baby’s throat and they can choke on it. Once they start crawling, anything they can reach is fair game to be tasted, so if you’re unsure about something, try fitting it through the tube.
Get A Toilet Lock
There’s a few good reasons to lock down the lid to your toilet: Chemicals you clean with, bacteria, toys and car keys getting flushed clogging your toilet then flooding the bathroom, and while rare, it’s still a drowning risk for children under 3. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends locks on every toilet in a home with small children. There are several types to choose from starting at around $5 each, and they can be found at any big box store.
Anchor All Heavy Furniture To Walls
Approximately every 15 minutes, someone in the US is injured by furniture or a TV tipping over; the majority of these accidents involve toddlers. The general rule is to anchor all non-wall mounted TVs and furniture to the wall following the manufacturer’s instructions. For older pieces without instructions, you can buy an anchoring kit at your local hardware or home improvement store.
Know Your Local Bugs And Plants
Can you recognize the difference between a brown widow spider bite and a mosquito bite? Or what caterpillars are okay for your child to pick up and pet, and what ones should be avoided? It’s worth taking an hour or two on the internet or at your local library to acquaint yourself with the local insect, arachnid, and plant life, so when your child goes, “Ohh, LOOK!” not only do you know when to panic and when to look closer, you’re the cool parent who knows about bugs.
If your child has been sick with a fever, vomiting and diarrhea, or even if they’ve just been running around sweating a lot, they can quickly become dehydrated. Some common signs of dehydration in children include: few or no tears when crying, no urine or very little dark yellow urine in a 6-8 hour period, dry skin, irritability, and tiredness. The best way to prevent dehydration is to offer lots of fluids, particularly in hot weather. If a child is sick, popsicles can help them feel better and keep more fluid in their system.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (also known as MRSA) is a bacteria found in some skin infections and can be tricky to treat as it’s resistant to many antibiotics. If your child has a cut, boil, or wound or anything that you think is infected, take them to the doctor. Signs of infection include: weeping or pus, warm to the touch, hard to the touch, a bump that is painful, red or swollen, or any of these symptoms accompanied by a fever. MRSA can be picked up by coming into contact with someone who has it, or with their clothing/towels, particularly if your child has an open wound like a scratch or bug bite.
Rear Facing Until Two
In 2011, the American Academy Of Pediatrics published a new set of guidelines stating that children should be rear facing until at least two years of age and in booster seats for most children through eight years of age. Some studies have even shown that children under two years of age are five times safer in collisions if they’re rear facing.
Pay Attention And Trust Your Instincts
If you feel in your gut that something isn’t safe, or that your child isn’t well, you may be right. Maternal instinct and survival instinct are hard wired into humans, and part of survival is protecting and caring for our young. While it’s hard sometimes to find a balance between worry and reason, you know your child better than anyone else. If you truly feel that something is wrong or could become an issue, it’s better to play it safe and seek medical attention or further safety education.
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