From the moment you see that little heartbeat on the screen, your life changes. Your new goal is to keep this little human safe and happy. There is no shortage of advice available — from online blogs to well-meaning family and friends. But all that advice can be confusing at best and dangerous at worst.
Here are five simple tips you can use to keep your baby safe:
Provide safe sleep.
Providing safe sleep is key to taking care of your little bundle of joy.
Key things to remember are:
- Put your baby to sleep on his or her back.
- Your baby should sleep in his or her own flat sleep space.
- It is best to keep your baby in your room until 6 months of age, or even better, 1 year.
- Keep your baby's space clear. That means no cute fluffy blankets, stuffed animals or crib bumper.
- Once your little one starts rolling, stop swaddling his or her arms. Then he or she can freely use his or her arms to reposition if needed.
- Give your little one a pacifier, which can decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.
Check your home environment.
Your little one is growing and developing quickly. As he or she becomes mobile, be sure your house is safe.
- Installing safety gates.
- Moving chemicals, sharp knives and dangerous products up and out of reach.
- Installing drawer and cabinet locks, and electrical outlet covers.
- Removing any small pieces a little explorer could choke on.
- Draining any water — even if just a few inches — from buckets or bathtubs to prevent drowning.
It can help to crawl around at baby level to see any hazards that are around.
Install a rear-facing car seat for your little one to ride in. Ensure it is installed correctly and tightly in the vehicle. The instruction manual that comes with the car seat is a valuable resource.
Always buckle up, even if only going a short distance. When you buckle your little one, the clip should be at the nipple line, and the belt should be tight — so tight you can't pinch the fabric with your fingers. During the winter, it is important to not put your child in a bulky coat or snowsuit while in the car. The bulky clothing can compress in a crash leaving the straps too loose to restrain your child. This can lead to increased risk of injury.
Take care of yourself.
It is important to make time for your own health, both mental and physical. Babies cry — sometimes a lot.
It can be difficult to cope if you are overwhelmed. This can lead to decreased bonding or even harming your baby.
It is especially important to watch for any signs of postpartum depression, such as feeling worthless, not enjoying hobbies, or in serious cases, wanting to harm yourself or your baby. Know that postpartum depression is not your fault, and your health care team can help you.
Keep an open line of communication with your care team.
Keep your well-child appointments on schedule. These appointments make sure your baby is growing and developing appropriately, and that's when immunizations are provided to keep your family safe.
Always ask your JMH team any questions you have. Millions of things can come up when raising your child, and your healthcare team is here to help and support you, and your little one.
Enjoy every moment you have with your little one and take simple steps to keep your little one safe. A great resource for more information on safety, growth and parenting is healthychildren.org, a parent-friendly resource from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Remember, you are doing a great job and the best parent for your little one is you.
Johnson Memorial Health is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network — a select group of carefully vetted, independent healthcare organizations with special access to Mayo Clinic knowledge, resources and expertise.