10 Easy Steps to Baby Safety {Guest Post}

Looking for more info on keeping your baby safe?  You’ll love this article from Sheneq Aranda – Member of the International Association for Child Safety, member of Safe Kids Greater Houston and a nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.  Today Sheneq is sharing practical tips any parents can use to keep their baby safe and happy.

Some say 21st century parents worry too much about child safety. I hear this all the time, “We didn’t even have car seats when I was growing up!” As a child passenger safety technician, I cringe when I hear that.

Let’s face it, times have changed. Studies and research show that a child is so much safer riding in a vehicle when placed in an appropriate car seat. The truth is that there are more vehicles on the road, many are larger vehicles, and we travel at much faster speeds these days. Unfortunately, at least 80% of car seats installed in the US are incorrect. There are car seat standards, but it is up to us as parents to make sure we follow best practice. Sometimes the laws are there to provide the bare minimum for safety. However, I recommend parents take it one step further and use their intuition.

As a parent, you should be careful and concerned about child safety. You can avoid being paranoid by baby proofing your home and being aware of your surroundings when you are not at home.

Babyproofing Made Simple

1. Get an empty toilet paper roll to keep around the house. The size of the whole is great for determining if the size of a toy is too small. If it fits, it is not appropriate for a child under 3 years of age. This is simple to do at home and for other caregivers to follow.

2. Get down on the floor and crawl around on your hands and knees. What can you grab, tip-over, or insert a finger into? Don’t forget to open cabinets and drawers. Bolt down dressers and place breakable and unsafe items up high, in a cabinet or closet. Use non-pressure mounted baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent baby from falling.

3. Make sure your child has a safe sleeping area free of bumpers, toys and cords. Alter any blind cords if necessary to prevent your child from playing with them. Toddlers are very attracted to cords! http://www.windowcoverings.org/how_to_retrofit.html

4. Follow manufacturer recommendations for toys and baby gear. It means the manufacturer has tested it specifically for that age group and if you use it inappropriately, it will void the warranty. Not to mention, it may be a safety hazard.

5. Check toys for loose parts and sharp edges. Pay extra attention to used toys and toys that are obtained from fairs, carnivals, rodeos, vending machines, etc. Those are not regulated.

6. If you have older children in the home with an infant, educate them on safety practices. Your older child will feel proud to be able to help keep his or her younger sibling safe.

7. Be conscious of your surroundings when out and about.  For instance, make sure your child is within arms reach at a pool or doesn’t run out in the parking lot at the store.

8. Do teach your child about safety. As your baby gets older, he/she will become more rebellious and perhaps not want to get into the car seat or hold on to the railing when going up or down stairs. Yes you may have to repeat yourself many times, but it helps children understand why they are in the car seat or should hold on to the railing. Sing a song about it and make it routine and fun.

9.  Use “common sense”, and go beyond manufacturer warranties and recommendations. For instance, never leave your baby unattended on a high surface like a changing table or in a Bumbo seat on a table. It is possible for your baby to roll or scoot and fall off. Yes, even a newborn can scoot!

10. Falling is a part of life. Unless your child has a cranial issue, there is probably no need to wear a helmet while playing normally at home. Remember the rule of thumb for falls. If you fall from your height, you will probably be okay. If you fall from twice your height, there is a concern. If you fall from three times your height, it is serious. This goes for you and baby too!

We must remember, children are children. They are NOT simply small adults. You can sit on a table and not roll off. Children do not have the same bone development or motor skills of an adult.

The key is to watch your child closely. Now we all know there are times when your baby is in the same room with you, but you turn your back or bend down to pick up something. This is why you take care of the obvious baby proofing needs. Doing so will make you feel more relaxed about your child’s safety.

In addition to baby proofing, all parents and child caregivers should know infant and child CPR and basic first aid. Your child’s life can literally be saved with CPR. I recommend taking a refresher course every 1 to 3 years.  (Ed note: The American Red Cross and American Heart Association offer these classes.  Local scout troops often hold classes that you can join for a small fee.)

To stay up-to-date on recalls, register online at http://www.cpsc.gov/ and http://www.recalls.gov/

Visit http://www.safekidsgreaterhouston.org/ for information on child safety.

 Sheneq Aranda launched Premier Baby Planning in spring 2010, less than 1 year after the birth of her son.  Starting a family away from her hometown of Chicago, Sheneq understands the emotional and mental challenges unique to motherhood and professional families.  She resides in Bellaire, TX with her husband and precious baby boy.

I love comments. Tell me what you think!

  • Robyn March 15, 2012, 6:12 pm

    What are the most common problems with car seat and booster seat installation?

  • Sheneq Aranda March 15, 2012, 10:27 pm

    Hi Robyn,

    We see a lot of misuses. These are the most common ones that I see. I volunteer at an inspection station once a month.

    - LATCH installation – Most vehicles do not allow for a car/booster seat to be installed in the middle seat using LATCH. So we see people install the seat using the LATCH from the either side. The spacing is not correct. The best thing to do is to read your vehicle manual to determine where you seat can beat installed using LATCH appropriately.

    - Too loose – We often see seats that are installed too loosely. Once installed, you need to try to maneuver the seat at the belt path. If it moves more than an inch right or left, it’s not tight enough.

    - Aftermarket products – A lot of parents want to use seat protectors, toys, etc to either protect their vehicle seat or entertain baby. This is a big no no. You void your warranty unless the product is deemed safe from the car/booster seat manufacturer because it has not been crash tested.

    - Rear-facing – Many parents are quick to turn little ones around as soon as the minimum suggested age says it’s okay. Keep your child rear-facing as long as they meet the height and weight requirements on the car/booster seat. Rear-facing allows the crash force to spread across the entire body instead of majority of the impact damaged the neck and spine.

    - Chest clip – The chest clip belongs at arm pit level. Most often, I see the chest clip too low on the child.

    Let me know if you have any more questions! I’m happy to answer them.

  • Robyn March 18, 2012, 10:55 pm

    Thanks for the feedback! I never thought about after-market products. Would “custom” or home-sewn pads or liners count as after-market products?

    I keep the chest clip across the breast bone so it can’t hurt the abdomen in a crash. I assume that’s correct? How about using the car seat without LATCH, using the lap belt to secure it instead? Is that okay as long as it’s tight enough?

  • Sheneq Aranda March 20, 2012, 10:41 pm

    Hi Robyn,

    Yes “custom” or home-sew counts as after-market.

    The chest clip should be at arm pit level.

    The LATCH and the lap and shoulder belt are simply two ways to get to the same thing. One is like wearing glasses and the other is like wearing contact lenses. As long as there is no more than one inch of movement at the belt path, it is tight enough.


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