I don’t want to be one of those mums that constantly stares at her baby – to the point of ignoring everyone else – in the vigilant effort to keep them out of harm’s way. On the other hand, babies are completely helpless and dependent, so leaving them to their own devices in a house full of potential hazards would be asking for trouble!
The way to a harmonious compromise seems to be to make yourself aware of any potentially dangerous things and get into the habit of nixing them automatically, so you can have the opportunity to enjoy your baby without worrying all the time.
Easier said than done!
All this power you’re supplying…
Even a newborn baby, who you might think would be pretty safe – not being able to move around much or even sit up – can be susceptible to hazards. The NHS have provided a helpful video on what you need to consider immediately after taking your baby home from the hospital. These potential areas to watch out for include:
- Smoking (including secondhand) near your baby
- Scalding from hot drinks, hot food or a bath
- Leaving a baby alone in the bath – babies can drown in as little as 5cm of water
- Rolling off a changing mat – the floor is safest
- Toys need to be age-appropriate and not present a choking or strangling hazard
- Care where your car seat or cradle is put – the floor is safest
- Reducing trips and falls by clearing the floor of things like toys, and hold the stair banister when carrying your baby.
Once your baby is more active and can crawl, there is a whole new range of scary things that can happen, such as babies getting their body parts trapped between the cot railings and swallowing or choking on small objects. You’ll probably need to invest in a couple of stairgates and a load of plug socket covers.
Toddlers are even more of a liability but right now keeping our baby safe is enough to think about! I get the impression that leaving your baby unattended is generally a bad idea unless they are sleeping in a secure environment, even if they are very tiny and immobile. The rest seems to be common sense (I tend to avoid smoke and clutch the banister anyway… one example of how pregnancy can be great practice for what comes next!)
I find the most frightening aspect of baby safety is the unexpected things that might happen: the sudden medical emergencies; what you cannot plan for, as much as you would like to. This is where baby first aid comes in. We’ve signed up for an NCT-organised baby first aid workshop in a few weeks’ time, in the hope that Murphy’s Law will mean that as we’ve prepared, it won’t happen. Or if it does, then we might have an inkling about what to do!
The other great fear for a lot of new parents is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), aka cot death. Again, there are many things you can do to help reduce the likelihood of this, but that will have to wait for another post to avoid health & safety information overload.
The NHS notes that “accidents are part of a child’s learning experience and some are unavoidable”. I guess we just need to keep an eye out and be sensible about it, without being taken over by the fear of something going wrong!