You wouldn’t dream of leaving your toddler playing in the living room while you take a shower or putting your newborn down for a nap in his bedroom upstairs without turning on the baby monitor. But accidents can happen even when parents are careful. An estimated 64,000 children under age 5 are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms each year for injuries from accidents involving everyday nursery products, such as cribs and high chairs.
So what can you do to protect your child? ShopSmart, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, has the steps you can take to minimize the dangers in your child’s surroundings and avoid common safety slipups:
* Not Safe: Using a baby bath seat. Toddlers sometimes slip through the leg holes and often try to climb out of or over the seat. The seat can also dislodge and tip over.
* Safer Bet: Bathe your toddler in an adult or toddler tub with a small amount of water. And never turn away from your baby during bath time, even for a second, even when you’re just filling the tub with water.
* Not Safe: Placing a baby bouncy seat on an elevated or soft surface. Your baby’s movement could rock the seat to the edge of a counter or table and cause it to tip over or fall to the floor. And soft surfaces are a suffocation hazard if the seat should tip.
* Safer Bet: Put the bouncy seat on the floor.
* Not Safe: Using a changing table with only two or three side barriers. In the split second it takes to turn away to grab a diaper or wipe, an active baby can roll over and tumble to the ground.
* Safer Bet: Changing tables with barriers on four sides of the top comply with voluntary safety-testing standards. Always use the safety straps on the changing table or pad, and never leave your baby unattended even for a moment, even if you’re using the safety straps and you’re sure your baby is secure.
* Not Safe: Using a walker. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended a ban on walkers, and they are banned in Canada. These products can allow babies to scoot into danger and might even delay their development. Despite the name, a walker lets a baby simulate walking but doesn’t really help her acquire the skills she needs.
* Safer Bet: A stationary activity center—an all-in-one, molded-plastic play station that doesn’t have wheels— is a safer way for your baby to have fun and get a little exercise.
* Not Safe: Relying on a high chair’s tray instead of using the safety belt. It doesn’t prevent your child from standing up and possibly falling out of the chair or slipping under the tray.
* Safer Bet: Fasten the safety harness, even when your baby is in a reclining position. Also, your child should always be in your view when she is sitting in a high chair.
* Not Safe: Skipping the stroller’s safety straps. The stroller can tip and kids can bolt out of it unexpectedly. Also, you never know when you could hit a bump that could cause a nasty tumble.
* Safer Bet: Be sure to use the five-point safety harness on your stroller even if you’re just wheeling your child up the block or strolling slowly.
* Not Safe: Overloading a stroller with packages and bags. Hanging heavy bags or a purse on a stroller’s handles can cause it to tip over and injure your child.
* Safer Bet: Store your stuff in the basket or storage area underneath the stroller. Check the product directions for weight limits so you don’t overload that area.
Credits: May 2009 Issue, ShopSmart Magazine