September is Baby Safety Month. Are you doing all you can to keep your baby healthy and safe?
Being a parent is the biggest responsibility you will ever have in your life. While you’re hard at work loving, nourishing, and opening your baby’s eyes to the world around, protecting your little one is a top priority too. That starts with the excellent choice you’ve made to breastfeed and continues with healthy practices and safety measures.
Started by the Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association (JPMA), Baby Safety Month is a great time to refresh your routine to ensure you’re employing healthy habits, best practices, and safety precautions to keep your baby as safe as possible.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and many other child sleep safety advocates recommend babies (starting as newborns) have a dedicated sleep space with no blankets, sheets, pillows, bumpers or toys that could become suffocation hazards. Safe sleep spaces may include bassinets, cradles, cribs and play yards. Co-sleeping in the same bed (or couch or chair) with your baby is discouraged. Additionally, studies show “rooming in” with your baby for the first four months may reduce risk of SIDS, encourage bonding, and make breastfeeding easier.
Expert Mom Tip: With your baby close by, nighttime feedings become simpler. With a nursing chemise or nursing sleep bra, you can breastfeed when your baby is ready and then both of you can get back to sleep quickly. Even better, ask dad for help burping and changing nighttime diapers so you can get as much rest as possible.
It’s hard to know what your baby will get into, but it is far too dangerous to wait and find out. Rather, be proactive in baby-proofing your home. Gate off hazardous areas such as stairs, fireplaces and anywhere leading to standing water such as a pool; lock ovens, drawers, doors, and cabinets (even those that may seem too high to reach now); cover outlets and remove dangerous electronics; tuck away curtains, blinds, and long cords; and cover sharp furniture corners and secure anything that may topple to the walls. Be sure to have supplies available in case of an emergency such as a first aid kit and fire extinguisher and keep emergency numbers handy.
Expert Mom Tip: Get down on your baby’s level to discover what potentially dangerous temptations your little one may be intrigued to explore. Viewing things from your baby’s perspective may help you uncover baby-proofing areas you missed.
Buckling up for safety applies to babies at all times. Whether your baby is in a stroller, infant swing, high chair, or car seat, safety straps should always be used. According to JPMA, falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries in children, but many can be prevented by using safety straps. Buckling in a car seat is most critical. Straps should fit snuggly without constricting your baby and the upper clips should clasp towards the top of the chest approximately aligned with the armpits. Be sure your child is always using an appropriate car seat based on size – that’s length and weight.
Expert Mom Tip: As a mom, you may discover everything takes longer than you think. But that’s no reason to rush through safety precautions. Even if you’re running late, double check to ensure your baby is strapped into every apparatus properly. And use baby venues to your advantage. Infant swings and bouncy chairs are excellent ways to keep your baby safe while you are pumping or grabbing supplies for breastfeeding.
Toys have age recommendations for a reason. Be sure your baby and children are playing with age-appropriate toys so they do not injure themselves. Keep toys for older children in a place where your baby will not get into them. Check for JMPA certification on any toys you purchase or receive as gifts. Always use toys as they were intended.
Expert Mom Tip: As a breastfeeding mom, you’re not only making phenomenal choices for the health of your baby, you’re also saving money and doing good for the environment. You can continue these practices by initiating a toy exchange with friends and neighbors or buying gently used toys.
Breastfeeding is the healthiest start to life a baby can have. With hundreds of valuable nutrients tailor-made for your baby, you can feel great that you’re building your little one’s immune system for life, helping prevent many serious diseases, and boosting her brain power and physical strength too. As you add solid foods to your baby’s diet, continue your healthy choices. Also ensure your baby is getting plenty of physical activity and mental stimulation, which will evolve with your little one with age. Emphasize healthy habits like hand-washing, regular bathing, brushing teeth, and a consistent sleep schedule as well.
Expert Mom Tip: The American Academy of Pediatrics, World Health Organization, and many other health initiatives advocate for 4-6 months of exclusive breastfeeding and continued breastfeeding for a year or more. To meet your goals, prepare yourself with items that will make breastfeeding easier, such as nursing bras, nursing tank tops, nursing pads and a nursing cover for discreet on-the-go feedings.