Pay attention during playtime
Be picky about toy purchases. By law, toys for kids under 3 can't pose a choking hazard. However, it's still important for parents to inspect them. Look for small, removable accessories or parts that can easily break off, says Debra Holtzman, author of The Safe Baby.
Use the toilet paper roll test. If a toy or a piece of a toy is small enough to fit inside an empty toilet paper roll, it could block your baby's airway. Toss it out or put it away until she's older.
Beware of the button battery. Each year, more than 2,800 children in the U.S. are treated in an emergency room after swallowing coin-size lithium batteries, which can be found in some electronic devices, such as remote controls, watches, key fobs, musical greeting cards, and flameless candles, says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. "Too often, gadgets containing small batteries, which can be easy to open, are left within reach of young children. Little kids are curious. They put everything in their mouth."
Practice caution in the kitchen
Battle bacteria and foodborne illness. Infants have an immature immune system, so always wash your hands before mixing formula, pouring expressed milk, or feeding him solids. Dump any formula or milk that's left over after a feeding to avoid the spread of bacteria from Baby's mouth. Same for solids: Toss any food his utensil touched.
Heat up meals with care. Warm bottles in a bowl of hot water, not the microwave, which can create hot spots that can scald Baby's mouth. Nuking jarred baby food is risky, too, so spoon the contents into a bowl first. When it's heated, stir and let it stand. Before serving, sample it with a separate spoon. (Test milk or formula simply by sprinkling it on the back of your hand.)
Introduce solids one at a time. Wait two to three days between giving him new foods to see if any signs of an allergic reaction crop up, including diarrhea, vomiting, hives, or a rash. Be aware of the eight foods that cause about 90 percent of food allergies in kids: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. If you notice any suspicious symptoms after serving them, call your pediatrician.
Recognize choking-risk foods. About 34 children per day are treated for nonfatal food-related choking accidents, a new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports. Kids under 2 are most vulnerable. The riskiest foods are round or cylindrical (a whole grape), have a texture that conforms to the airway (peanut butter), or are the size of your babe's upper airway (about the width of a hot dog). Also on the list: nuts, seeds, marshmallows, raw carrots, apples, and popcorn. For Baby's meals, cut food into pieces no larger than 1/2 inch. Cook veggies until supersoft, and give your baby tiny tastes of foods like PB.