Newborn Safety Tips

Protect the Head
Your baby's neck muscles are weak. Be sure to support your baby's head at all times to avoid serious injury or even death. Don't hit, shake or play rough with your infant! Falls are a leading cause of infant injuries. Never leave your baby on a table, chair, counter or other high surface. Don't leave your baby unattended--even for a second.

Car Seat Safety
On all trips, no matter how short, infants need to travel restrained in a properly installed car seat. In addition to saving lives, it’s the law in every state.

Your newborn should sit in an approved car seat that is facing backward in the center of the back seat. Never use a car seat in a location with an airbag.

Since 2002, all new car seats and passenger vehicles are equipped with the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system. With the LATCH system, parents no longer need to use seatbelts to secure infant car seats, which leaves less room for error. Car seats without LATCH are still safe, as long as they are installed correctly. Many seatbelts require a safety clip (easily obtained from a car dealer) to secure them. Carefully follow manufacturer’s instructions for securing the seat and your child.

Also, never leave a child alone in a vehicle. Within minutes he or she could be in danger from heat and dehydration, even if the windows are open. Always take your child with you.

Infant Seat/Carrier Safety
Remember to fasten supporting devices and restraining straps securely when in use. If you place the infant seat on a table or other high surface, be sure the surface is firm and does not tip. Always stay within reach of your baby and never turn your back. Never use an infant seat or carrier as a car seat.

Changing Table Safety
A changing table is a convenient place to diaper and dress your newborn. Make sure your changing table has straps to prevent the baby from rolling off. Use these straps to help restrain your baby whenever you use the changing table. Keep diapers, wipes and other baby products at hand. Don’t turn your back on your infant when reaching for something. Never leave your baby unattended—even for a second.

Crib Safety
Many old cribs do not meet current safety standards and may contain lead-based paints, which pose a serious risk to your child’s health. Follow these current guidelines when choosing a crib:

  • Corner posts should be less than 1/16” above the end panel (to prevent strangulation) or over 16” (for canopy posts).
  • Slats or spindles should be spaced no more than 2-3/8” apart and should not be loose or missing.
  • Mattresses should fit snugly with no more than two fingers’ width between the mattress edge and the crib side.

Use these safety precautions to prevent falls and entanglement:

  • Always keep the drop side up when the baby is in the crib.
  • Keep the crib away from draperies, blinds or long cords (including hanging toys).
  • Select bumper pads that fit around the entire crib and snap or tie securely. Trim excess string after bumper is tied on.
  • Do not leave pillows, large toys or stuffed animals in the crib while the baby is sleeping or unattended.

Fire Safety
Use the following tips to protect your newborn from fire:

  • Never leave your infant alone in the home—even for a minute.
  • Install a smoke detector on every level of your home and in your infant’s room.
  • Keep chair or rope ladders on upper floors to permit escape.
  • Locate several escape routes from each area of the house, including your infant’s room, and plan a meeting place once outside.

In case of fire, get everyone outside immediately—do not stop to dress or try to put out the fire. Most deaths occur from suffocation due to smoke and not from direct burning. Call the fire department from a neighbor’s house.

Sun Safety
Infants under 6 months old should be kept out of direct sunlight. Keep your baby in the shade or under an umbrella or canopy. Dress your baby in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs and use a wide-brimmed hat to protect the eyes. Check with your healthcare practitioner about using sunscreen on a baby less than 6 months old.

Pet Safety
Infants and pets can get along safely if you follow these suggestions:

  • Never leave your baby alone with a pet.
  • Watch your pet closely for signs of jealousy. Jealousy can cause a pet to act out.
  • Give your pet as much attention and affection as you did before the baby was born.
  • Trim your cat’s claws short. Cats do not lie on babies and smother them, but they can scratch.
  • Train your dog to obey commands. Enroll the dog in obedience classes if necessary.
  • Keep your pet’s toys away from your baby.
  • Check with your veterinarian for safety issues regarding your baby.

Babysitter Basics
Take care when deciding whom to leave your child with. Here are some tips for choosing and using childcare providers:

  • Select only responsible adults who have experience in handling infants.
  • Observe babysitters with your child. Note how well they play with your child and how well they handle stress.
  • Make sure they know how to respond to emergencies. Ask if they know infant CPR and rescue breathing.
  • Remind them to always place your child to sleep on his or her back and to never leave your baby alone near water or other hazards.
  • Familiarize babysitters with your home. They should know where all exits, flashlights and fire extinguishers are.

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Amherst Pediatric Associates

25 Hopkins Rd

Williamsville, NY 14221



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