Trouble Spot 1: A crowded crib
"The safest crib contains a snug mattress with a tight-fitting sheet, and that's it," says Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids in Danger, an organization that advocates for children's product safety. In the first year, an infant can suffocate on a blanket, stuffed animal, pillow, or any other soft objects. Keep Baby warm with a wearable blanket.
Trouble Spot 2: A drop-side crib
In June, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a ban on sales of cribs with this feature, due to suffocation hazards. (The sides are prone to detaching, and babies can get trapped between the mattress and the crib.) "Purchase a new crib if you can," Cowles says. "They're a lot safer now than even just a few years ago."
Trouble Spot 3: A sleep positioner
These padded mats with cushions that stop a baby from rolling onto her tummy are popular with parents trying to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). But babies have wriggled into precarious positions or suffocated on the foam. Last year, the CPSC and the Food and Drug Administration warned against them.
Trouble Spot 4: Yankable dècor
A mobile over the crib is fine, but "you should remove it once Baby is about 5 months old and can sit up enough to be able to pull up on it," Cowles cautions. Same goes for any hanging objects near your child's bed.
Trouble Spot 5: A baby monitor that's too close for comfort
"Never put a monitor in the crib," Cowles says. A baby can go from being a sack of potatoes to on-the-go seemingly overnight, so there's always the risk he can get a cord stuck around his neck. Keep the monitor (even a video monitor) at least 3 feet from the crib, with cords inaccessible.
More Trouble Spots
Trouble Spot 6: A light that can ignite
"Plug in night-lights away from drapery, where they could start a fire," says Garry Gardner, M.D., chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee of Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. "Or better yet, buy only night-lights that don't get hot." (KinderGlo and Mobi offer versions with heat-free LEDs.)
Trouble Spot 7: A changing table that puts your cutie at risk for a tumble
"An infant can fall when a parent steps away even for a few seconds," Cowles says. So storing diapering supplies far from the changing table is a no-no. Keep 'em close by and you won't have to leave your baby's side. Cowles also recommends a changing table with guardrails on all four sides, or using a contoured pad that's hollowed out in the middle.
Trouble Spot 8: Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that are MIA
"You should have working detectors in all bedrooms and on every level of your home," Dr. Gardner says. Even brief exposure to this odorless gas can be harmful to a baby.
Trouble Spot 9: No one on dog duty
"Never leave a pet alone with your infant, even if you think your animal is completely gentle," Cowles advises. If Fido or Frisky is in the room, you should be there too. You can't expect even the sweetest, most placid critter to understand how fragile a newborn is!
Trouble Spot 10: A loose window blind cord dangling by the crib
"The crib shouldn't be anywhere near to a window with drapery cords that can hang down," Dr. Gardner says. "They could strangle a baby." Better to use window treatments with cords that have no closed loops, or blinds with no cords at all. If you have a looped cord anywhere in the house, Dr. Gardner says, "cut it and tie it up."
Originally published in the September 2011 issue of American Baby magazine.
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