Scary Words: “Oh My God! Little Joey has been hurt! Come quick!”
Replace “Little Joey” with your baby’s name.
Your heart pounds like it’s going to burst out of your chest. Your stomach drops to your toes. You’re gripped with fear and your emotions run riot.
If you have a little baby, you may be able to relate to this scenario.
This time your “Little Joey” was OK. A couple bruises, a split lip. Your little baby goes on with life, and so do you.
But what if your baby wasn’t OK? Ridden with guilt and remorse, you start to ask yourself:
“…what if I had only…”
“…why didn’t I…”
“…I can’t believe I didn’t…”
Our goal today is to provide you with baby proofing tips to avoid having to ask yourself these painful questions.
We just used the term “avoid.”
Let’s think about insurance for a moment (yeah, I know, it’s painful thinking about it sometimes).
Why do you buy insurance? You buy insurance to avoid a loss against perils that may cause a loss. In order to minimize risks against losses, you try to minimize, or control, “exposures” to loss.
That’s exactly what we are going to do. We are going to give you baby proofing tips that will help you minimize the exposures to baby accidents and injuries.
To summarize, we hope to accomplish 3 things today:
- We are going to provide a summary of historical data on baby accidents and injuries.
- We are going to identify baby proofing tips you can implement to minimize exposures to risk of injury to your infant.
- We are going to identify some baby proofing products on the market today for your consideration (and for peace of mind).
Before we get into our baby proofing tips, let’s first take a look at some historical data. After all, the best way to better protect your baby from injury is to understand what the historical data of baby accidents and injuries tells us. I guess this is what “actuaries” do. All I know about actuaries is that they make a lot of money and there aren’t many of them. They utilize historical data to help “predict” future outcomes. We’re not actuaries here at www.todaysmonitors.com, but we think the best way to effectively implement baby proofing strategies is to understand how babies have been injured in the past. So let’s get started.
In our review of data provided by the “Centers for Disease Control”, we summarized what their historical data is telling us. Here are some conclusions we have drawn, along with some “chilling” data to put baby injuries into perspective.
Summary of Historical Data on Baby/Child Injuries
- Falls– The leading cause of non-fatal injuries in babies is falls. To put it into perspective: 8,000 infants are treated for injuries from falls each day. The majority of these injuries arise from falls from elevation, like falling down stairs, or from falling from some other elevated surface or baby accessory, like a changing table or baby swing. We will provide you with some baby proofing tips to help avoid falls.
- Striking Against/Caught Between Objects– Similar to fall injuries, the daily count of baby injuries resulting from striking against, or caught between, objects runs in the thousands. Babies striking against sharp or protruding objects is another leading cause of injury. Examples would be striking against coffee and kitchen table corners, fireplaces hearths or bathtub faucets. We will share some baby proofing tips to minimize these exposures to loss. In terms of “caught between” injuries, we’re talking about injuries resulting from getting fingers caught between door hinges or other “pinch points.” We’re also referring to “caught between” injuries like being caught between (or under in this case) a falling flat screen TV, a wall unit, or other household décor or appliance.
- Fires- Fires are one of the most prevalent accidents that result in death in infants. House fires present a huge potential for baby injury or death, it goes without saying. But we can, at the very least, provide you with some baby proofing tips to help avoid accidents and injuries resulting from fires.
- Burns/Scalds-Every day, over 300 infants are burned or scalded, requiring medical treatment. When we review the data for burns, the information reveals that burns result, in large part, from coming in contact with hot objects, like ovens, irons, or appliances that may run hot (i.e. curling irons). In terms of scalding, the primary issue is having your running water temperature set too high, or possibly a spill from a hot container. Some baby proofing tips will follow.
- Poisoning– Over 300 infants and small children are treated for poisoning each day. IMPORTANT! You should have the Poison Control Center Number posted (or programmed) on phones, refrigerators, and on medicine cabinets. The phone number in the US is 1-800-222-1222. We will provide you with some baby proofing tips for limiting the potential for poisoning.
- Drowning- It’s almost too terrible to even think about or write about. Drowning is the leading cause of injury resulting in death for infants and small children. We will give you some baby proofing tips to minimize this exposure.
- Suffocation/Choking– 875 children under the age of 4 die each year from choking or suffocation. We have some baby proofing tips that will help you reduce the likelihood of a suffocation or choking incident.
- Road Traffic Injuries– 150 accidents per hour occur that result in an injury to an infant or young child. We will provide you with some simple baby proofing ideas to minimize those risks to injury.
Baby Proofing Tips for Parents
This is not an all-inclusive list, but our goal is to focus on our research of historical data to come up with some things you can do to help minimize those particular accidents and injuries to babies. We will use the same outline we used in the section above to share our baby proofing tips.
Baby Proofing Tips to Avoid Fall Accidents and Injuries
Safety Gates-Always use either pressure gates (gates that expand and contract to the appropriate pressure to secure the gate) or wall mounted gates to secure all stairways and doors that open to stairs. This may be the most important baby proofing tip we can provide you with, given the historical accident and injury data.
Baby Changing Surfaces– Don’t leave your baby on any baby changing table or surface unattended, and most preferably, do not change your baby on any elevated surface.
Bouncing Cradles and Other Baby Equipment-Do not put cradles or other “bouncy” equipment on elevated surfaces. Cradles and bouncy equipment should also have 5 legs to avoid tipping.
Window Restrictions– This is a baby proofing tip where a baby might be able to crawl over to, and, in turn, fall out of, a window. Windows should have “restrictors” that do not allow windows to open more than 2.5’’. However, they should also still be able to be opened fully very quickly in the event of an emergency. We will give you some baby proofing advice on minimizing this exposure.
Doors– This is a simple thing, but just keep all doors closed not only to minimize the areas your little ones can go, but more importantly, to avoid having them open a door that leads to stairs. To add an additional safety precaution, use child proof covers on door handles that make it very difficult for a child to open the door.
Chairs/Other “Climbing” Objects– Another baby proofing tip is to keep chairs and other furniture away from windows, balconies and stairs-it’s an attractive invite for an infant just learning to crawl around.
General Tripping Hazards– All floor surfaces should be clear and free from any objects that present a trip and fall hazard. Pocketbooks and purses especially come to mind because they could also contain medications posing a poison hazard, and possibly necklaces and beads that pose a choking hazard.
“Crawl Through” Hazards– Make sure that your baby cannot fit through, or get lodged in between, stair railings. We have some baby proofing information to minimize this exposure.
Baby Proofing Tips to Avoid “Striking Against/Caught Between” Accidents and Injuries
Tipping Hazards– This would be a “caught between” hazard. A baby proofing technique is to make sure that all wall units, flat screen TVs, and other furniture is secured to abutting walls to prevent a tipping hazard. We have some practical baby proofing tips in the next section.
Door Hinges– While it may not be practical to do this on all doors, perhaps you can select the more commonly used doors to install door hinge guards. This baby proofing technique helps avoid exposing your child to hinge “pinch points.”
Sharp Edges– This baby proofing tip for parents is pretty all-encompassing. Coffee tables, kitchen tables, fireplace hearths, kitchen counters all present potential hazards to your baby as they begin to crawl around. There are several baby safety accessories that can cover these sharp, protruding surfaces with guards or soft, protective coverings. We will provide you with more information on these baby proofing techniques.
Stair Railings– We mentioned this in the prior section as a fall hazard, but it is also a potential “caught between” hazard. We have some baby proofing ideas for you in the next section.
Baby Proofing Tips to Avoid House Fire Accidents and Injuries
Smoke Alarms– Install smoke alarms on every floor.
Testing– Test the smoke alarm monthly; it’s pretty simple to just press the test button and worth the time. Be careful, though, please! Don’t use a flimsy chair to use to stand on to reach the test button! I speak from experience.
Batteries– Change the batteries twice a year. So you don’t forget, many people change the batteries when they change the clocks forward and back. Now you just have to remember when to do that! I’m usually one hour early or one hour late for my first appointment after we reset the clocks.
Electrical Devices– Turn off all electrical devices when they are not in use.
Escape Plan– We can’t stress enough how important this is! Make sure that you have an escape plan in the event of a fire or other emergency requiring evacuation.
Fire Drill– Practice the plan! Hold a drill at least annually.
Fireplaces– Make sure that all fireplaces are guarded against embers shooting out onto the carpeting or other flammable surfaces.
Fire Emergency Ladder and “Escape Bag”– If you live in a 2-story house, an emergency ladder is a great idea! Manufacturers have also developed an “escape bag” that allows you to put your infant into a bag to safely lower them down from the second story.
Baby Proofing Tips to Avoid Burn and Scald Accidents and Injuries
Appliances Generating Heat– Keep all appliances that generate heat out of the reach of your infant.
Hot Drinks– Never have a hot drink in your hands while your baby is in your lap or anywhere where they might be exposed to a spill.
Water Temperature– When bathing your baby, make sure to test the water temperature. Test it with you elbow.
Hot Water Thermostat– The thermostat of your water heater should be set to 120 degrees or less.
Microwave Heating– This is a very common injury to infants. Be careful when using the microwave to heat bottles or baby food. Remember that microwaves heat from the inside out, so shake bottles, stir food, and test the temperature before feeding your baby.
Car Seats– Car seats can get hot from the sunlight glaring through your windows. Check the seat and hardware to make sure it’s not too hot. We have some baby proofing advice for you in the next section.
Sun– Always protect your infant with sun screen, and protect your baby’s scalp with a hat. The market offers a ton of really cute hats.
Cooking Pot Handles– I never would have thought of this-sometimes you just overlook the obvious. Use back burners on your stove whenever possible to avoid your baby coming in contact with the hot surfaces. When you do need to use the front burners, make sure that you turn the pot handle towards the back of the stove to avoid accidental tipping.
Baby Proofing Tips to Avoid Poisoning Accidents and Injuries
Medicine Storage– Always keep medicines out of reach of children and locked.
Pocketbooks– Purses and pocketbooks pose a triple threat if left in areas where an infant can get their hands on them. You might have medicines posing a poisoning hazard, but keep in mind you might also have necklaces or beads posing a choking hazard. And, finally, the mere fact that your pocketbook may be lying on the floor poses a tripping hazard.
Child–resistant tops– If you’re diligent about safe medicine storage-for example, keeping your pocketbook out of reach, then you wouldn’t need child-proof caps, but consider this an additional “cushion of safety.”
Disposal– If you don’t need the medication, pitch it! Take a few minutes to review your medications to see what’s expired and/or what you no longer need.
Labeling– Always keep medication and other potentially harmful household items (like cleaning agents, animal/insect repellants) in their original containers. Why? 2 key reasons. First, you know what they are, and second, you can read the label to quickly determine what you need to do in the event it is ingested.
Houseplants– Some houseplants are poisonous. The first course of action, and probably the best, is to just not have them in your household. The second is to keep ALL plants out of the reach of your crawling infant.
CO Monitors– In addition to smoke detection, you should also have CO monitors in your home. And do not ignore them when they go off! I speak from experience here. I have CO monitors in my home, and they were triggered twice. I thought it was just a malfunction, so initially I was going to ignore it. As it turned out, in both cases, after calling the fire department, they came out and the readings showed levels (not high, but there) of CO. In both cases, I happened to be warming up my car in the garage. The garage door was open, but due to the car’s proximity to the door entering my home, it created CO levels inside my home. Better safe than sorry-if the CO detector goes off, call the authorities and get out of the house.
Baby Proofing Tips to Avoid Drowning Accidents
- Supervision– This baby proofing tip, albeit a simple one, is probably the most effective and powerful baby proofing tip we can give you with respect to avoiding drowning accidents.
- Awareness– Know Where the Water is!-Another baby proofing tip is to know where the water hazards are. If you lose sight of your baby or small child, go to the water hazards first! It might be the baby wading pool in your backyard, then your neighbor’s pond, then the small lake 2 doors down from your closest neighbor. So, think of it this way-go to the places first where the accident severity is the highest.
- Containers– Another baby proofing tip is any container, large or small, should always be emptied (if it’s water or another disposal liquid no longer needed), and stored away and out of the reach of your infant. Specifically for baby wading pools, always empty and store them away and out of reach, or, at the least, turn them over so rain water can’t refill the pool.
- Fencing– Pools need to be fully fenced in.
- Gating– All gates should be safe so that they automatically lock when shut.
- CPR– We highly recommend that you be certified in administering CPR. It’s easy, and it can save your child’s life or someone else’s.
- Bathtub Baby Rings– We wanted to specifically point this out as a baby proofing tip. Bathtub baby rings are those devices that allow you to prop your baby up in the ring for bathing purposes. Our opinion is, while they can be useful, they can also create a false sense of security. Bottom line, refer back to our first bullet in this section-never leave your baby unattended in a bathtub.
Baby Proofing Tips to Avoid Suffocating and Choking Accidents
- Small Objects– This is a simple baby proofing tip and it’s pretty intuitive, but unfortunately sometimes it’s the things you overlook that are going to lead to an unfortunate choking incident. Keep any small objects out of reach.
- Toy Design– To further build on the above, pay close attention to toy design, and our baby proofing suggestion is to closely heed the instructions set forth in the child safety warnings on each toy or other baby accessory. They didn’t just pull these warnings out of thin air; an extensive amount of time and expense is demanded of the manufacturers before any toy or accessory is released out into the marketplace.
- Beads/Necklaces– We’re back to purses and pocketbooks yet again. Keep your pocketbook or purse out of reach, and keep all necklaces and beads, likewise, out of reach.
- Sleeping and Napping– Historical data has proven out that putting your baby on their back when sleeping and napping significantly reduces the likelihood of suffocating or choking. We have a baby proofing tip for this in the next section.
- Crib Objects– Minimize, better yet, eliminate all objects in the crib when your baby is napping if at all possible. Mobiles deserve a special note here-make sure that mobiles are not dangling over your baby when napping or sleeping. While it’s unlikely your baby can pull down the mobile and it’s also unlikely an object is going to fall off of the mobile, this article is not just about likely accidents and injuries-we’re trying to help you anticipate unlikely events as well.
- Extension cords– Another baby proofing tip is to keep all extension cords out of reach, and keep the extension cord free of extra slack.
- Blinds/Shades/Curtains– Just a quick story on this baby proofing tip. During the writing of this article, there was actually a special report running on the news about cords from blinds, shades and curtains and that this exposure to accident and injury can, and should, be totally eliminated.
- Stuffed Animals and Live Pets– You might be tempted to have a whole slew of stuffed animals in your infant’s crib-don’t! It poses a choking and suffocation hazard. Likewise, you might also be tempted to put your pet in your child’s crib (I’m not making this up). Refer back to the prior rule-don’t!
- Mommy and Daddy’s Bed– We’re pretty sure most everyone is guilty of this-letting your baby nap or sleep in your bed. This is a big no-no! You run the risk of rolling onto your child, or inadvertently forcing them off the side of your bed. We know-when you’re sleep deprived and it seems like the only way you can get some sleep is to have your baby in your bed with you, avoid the temptation.
- Balloons– This might be a less evident baby proofing tip, but don’t use nylon balloons. The original style nylon balloons, if deflated and swallowed, actually “reshape” themselves to the fit of your throat, causing a severe choking hazard. When you’re having a party or other happy event, use “Mylar” balloons.
- Plastic Bags– When you dispose of plastic bags, tie thebags in several knots before tossing them in the garbage receptacle. This baby proofing tip can help eliminate the exposure to a choking hazard.
- CPR– We already mentioned this in the aforementioned drowning baby proofing tips section. It’s just for peace of mind.
- Baby Powders– This baby proofing tip suggests careful selection of baby powders. Some powders, if ingested in copious amounts, can cause permanent lung damage.
- Pacifiers– Pacifiers should not be tied around your infant’s neck. Sure, it might be more convenient, but you don’t want to be sorry.
- Crib Mattress Covers– Crib mattress covers should fit snuggly around the mattress so as not to become loose and create a potential choking or suffocation accident.
Baby Proofing Tips to Avoid Road Traffic Accidents and Injuries
- Baby Seats– Our simple baby proofing advice would say, yes, use them! Of course. We will do better than that; the next section will give you some baby proofing advice on some of the best baby seats on the market.
- Baby Position in Baby Seats– Infants should be facing backwards (preferably in the back seat) until they reach 20 lbs., then forward facing. A quick note here on backward facing babies-this, in and of itself, can increase your anxiety level because you can’t see their faces. In the next section, we will give you a baby proofing tip that will give you some peace of mind.
- Food/Other Objects– Never let your baby have any food or any objects when in a baby seat, especially when they are backward facing. I have to take a moment to share a personal story. A friend and business associate of mine was caring for her grandchild several years ago. She was driving to drop the child back off to her daughter’s house. The baby was backward facing in the back seat. As she was driving, it got really quiet in the back-the baby wasn’t cooing or making her usual gurgling noises. The baby had choked on a small piece of apple she had been given. By the time my friend checked on her grandchild, it was too late. The baby had choked to death. I can tell you that my friend was never the same again. Again, …if only I had…
- Belts– The belt specifically designed to keep your baby in the baby seat should be fastened snuggly to the baby. Make sure there’s no slack in the belt.
- Anchor Belt– We’re talking about the seat belt of the car that anchors the actual baby seat. This belt, too, should be snug and correctly positioned.
- Don’t Forget Them!– This is really sad, but most of us have heard stories about infants being left in the cars only to die from suffocation or excessive heat. In some instances, the parent or guardian literally forgot the baby was in the car. When I personally first heard this baby proofing tip, I chuckled, but try this! If your baby is in the back seat, put your cell phone, IPad, or other communication device in the back seat with them! Sad as it may seem, it’s just the way of the world today, but it’s unlikely you will get out of the car and go to your destination without your cell phone. Having your cell phone in the back seat right next to your infant is another safeguard against inadvertently leaving your baby in the car.
Let’s take a moment to summarize what we’ve covered so far.
- We have provided you with a summary of historical data on baby accidents and injuries.
- We have identified baby proofing tips you can implement to minimize exposures to risk of injury to your baby.
- We have given you links of different baby proofing products with almost each tips.
In closing, here at www.topdaysmonitors.com we hope that you have found some of this information helpful in preventing infant accidents and injuries.
Let’s face it. Accidents are going to happen, and short of having your baby live a life in a bubble, your precious little baby is, more likely than not, going to get a couple of bumps and bruises along the way. But, with some due diligence on your part, and hopefully with the information we have provided, you can avoid some of those “if only I had,” or “I should have” questions we know you would have etched in your mind if you didn’t do everything you could to avoid an accident or injury to your baby. So, go out, enjoy the day, and enjoy every minute you have with your little one. They grow up really fast!