Injury Prevention: Birth to Six Months
Children are totally dependent on adults to keep them safe.
- Wash your hands! To help protect your baby from infection, wash your hands vigorously with soap and water each time before touching or feeding him, and after changing a diaper.
- To reduce the risk of suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), place babies on their backs to sleep. Remove all fluffy pillows, toys and blankets. Make sure the crib mattress fits snuggly against the sides of the crib.
- Don't smoke near your baby. Babies, children and adults who are exposed to second-hand smoke are more susceptible to colds and other diseases, including SIDS.
- Babies need to spend some of their awake-and-alert time on their tummies. This time will give them the opportunity to strengthen muscles in their necks, backs and arms so that they will be strong enough to push up, turn over, creep and crawl. A good rule of thumb is "back to sleep, belly to play."
- Never shake your baby. Shaking, bouncing or spinning a baby can cause blindness, learning disabilities, mental retardation, paralysis, seizures, and even death.
- Newborns are able to wiggle, squirm, scoot, and sometimes turn over. Never leave your baby unattended on any surface higher than the floor. Don't leave him unattended on a bed, couch or chair, even if he's sleeping.
- Before buying or using baby equipment or toys, check to make sure they comply with the standards set by the National Safety Council. Mail in registrations and warranties, this will allow the manufacturer to notify you in case of a recall.
- Use infant seats with caution; they can tip over easily. When using an infant seat, belt your baby in. And, unless you are holding the seat, place it on the floor. Babies should ride in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of vehicles. Never put baby in the front seat of a car with a passenger air bag. Have the car seat checked for proper installation by a certified car seat technician.
- Never hold a child on your lap or in your arms in the front seat. In a crash, the child could be crushed by the dashboard or by the force of an air bag.
- Tray-shield convertible safety seats are not the safest choice for a newborn baby.
- Don't buy head-support padding or place anything under your baby in the car seat. Thick padding can cause slack in the harness, and your child will not be as secure in a crash. To support your baby's head during the first few months, place a rolled towel or receiving blanket on each side of his or her head.
- Avoid burns. Babies have thin skin and any burn can be serious.
- Set the hot water thermostat at 120 degrees.
- Do not warm a bottle in the microwave. Microwaves do not heat evenly, so some of the formula may be just room temperature and some may be hot enough to burn your baby's mouth.
- If a baby gets burned, hold the burned area under cool tap water; don't put any butter, oil or other ointments on burns. Call your pediatrician.
- Be Sun Safe. Protect your baby from the sun! Hats, clothing, sunglasses and shade help. Avoid the sun, when possible, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On hot days, breastfeed more frequently; or if you bottle feed, give your baby water in addition to his regular feedings to keep him/her hydrated.
- Your baby can drown in just two inches of water. Turn buckets and pails upside down. Close toilet seat lids. Never leave babies alone in the bathtub.