Keeping a baby safe is a priority to every parent. The little creatures are too fragile and weak and need protection all the time from dangers. Not surprisingly, danger does not exist only outside the home. On the contrary, accidents can happen to the baby as close as in their own bed. This is why parents need to be educated about how to keep babies safe and always read and stay updates on the necessary safety measures for babies. They should also bear in mind that they must use recent and updated information, even if they end up doing something different from what they did with older children.
Another important thing that every parent must do is not to bend the rules when it comes to baby gear safety measures. Scientific research is always investigating the use and dangers of baby gear products, so parents should make it a point to pay attention when alerts about something related to their baby’s safety are circulated. They should not prefer traditional advice of family or friends to what solid research has to offer. Doctors are the number one reference for parents, because they know what is best for the baby. They can debunk safety myths and draw attention to unwanted results of the parents’ actions.
Of course, every parent does their absolute best to ensure the baby is fine, yet somehow there may be downsides to the standard safety measures that parents know. Here, we present 15 ways that parents are misled into believing that they are keeping babies safe, when they are actually overlooking very important consequences that are actually putting the baby at risk.
13 Tea For Diarrhea
Some babies suffer from diarrhea due to infections or stomach upset. It is more common among formula-fed babies whose formula is not as sterile as breastmilk. Medications are available and can be prescribed by the pediatrician to treat the condition. However, some parents resort to old-school treatments and give their babies black tea in small amounts.
Theoretically speaking, tea contains astringent tannins that help heal diarrhea and reduce intestinal inflammation. Yet, babies are not simply small adults. They have a different metabolism and respond differently to food and drink. The caffeine found in normal tea is a huge concern, because it can cause sleep problems and increased heart rate in babies, it also acts as a diuretic. Some herbal teas, like anise and chamomile were proven safe, but they may be effective in other cases like colic and anxiety. Diarrhea is not a symptom to be neglected or treated by herbs. Mostly, medications and lots of fluids in the form of breastmilk, formula or juices will be the way to go.
12 Baby Sunscreen
Sunscreen is an inevitable item for every parent’s next beach trip. Sunburns are dangerous for kids and adults, so no one must be exposed to direct sunlight without protection. Some people attempt to completely isolate babies from the sun using umbrellas or stroller shades, but forgo sunscreen hoping to minimize the use of chemicals. Actually, sun protection is needed outdoors even if the baby is constantly in the shade. Make sure the sunscreen you purchase is safe for babies. Sunscreens designed for babies must be used as early as 6 months old.
If the visit to the beach is in the early morning or evening hours, beyond the peak hours of 10 AM to 2 PM, it is can be useful for the babies to stay in the sun. This helps them get adequate vitamin D that is especially important for breastfed babies, since formula is already supplemented with this vitamin. However, sunscreen must never be skipped and they should be exposed to sun only beyond the 6-month-old mark.
11 Swimsuit Safety
Swimsuits designed for babies may resemble adult swimsuits, leaving a large amount of the baby’s skin exposed. This can be very harmful, especially with sunlight and the chemicals in a pool. Instead, parents should choose ones that cover up arms and legs for added sun protection. This is a good idea, but some precautions are needed to prevent them from causing harm. First, swimsuit materials are not comfortable and can easily irritate the skin. This calls for immediate change of clothes and diaper once the baby is out of the water. Parents should also refrain from letting the baby nap in the swimsuit.
Also, parents should choose high-quality materials. Some swimsuits have fading colors and are made with materials that can cause allergies. Like with sunscreen, if the baby suffers an allergy from a certain material, parents should avoid buying a swimsuit that includes it. Parents are also advised not to let babies swim in floaters that do not have overhead sun protection elements.
Co-sleeping is a hot debate between parents, doctors and psychologists. Some opinions argue that babies need attachment and must be as close as possible to their parents, particularly their mother, from the first day. Others believe that adults should never sleep with babies in the same bed because of the risk of rolling over on them or hurting them in their sleep. From a safety point of view, the latter opinion seems more legit.
Adults cannot control what they do when they sleep. Also, adults usually need a cover which can be involuntarily swept over the baby’s head, interfering with his/her breathing. A good alternative is installing an extension of the bed or placing the baby in a separate crib. Breastfeeding mothers will enjoy the convenience of a baby close by while eliminating the possibility of one of the parents harming the baby accidentally.
9 Covering The Stroller
Sun exposure can be dangerous for babies, particularly those under the three-month mark. Parents are tempted to cover their babies when in the stroller to prevent the sun from reaching them. Also, the same happens on very windy days or when there is rain or snow. Parents try to isolate their babies from rough weather conditions for their safety by placing a blanket or light cover from the stroller shade, all the way to the baby’s legs.
However, this is another way that parents unknowingly can harm their babies. Placing the shade on the stroller is fine, but covering the baby from head to toe is not healthy. First, it can minimize the air reaching the baby and it does not take long for a baby to suffocate. Second, in cases of hot weather, the temperature can become elevated to unsafe levels faster than parents imagine, leading to heatstroke for the baby. Therefore, parents should place the entire stroller in the shade or use an umbrella instead.
8 Stroller Mistakes
As with car seats, strollers also can pose risks if they are used improperly. Strollers act as a baby’s bed and chair throughout the first year. If a mother is always on the go, her baby practically lives in the stroller. It is essential to make sure the baby is safe in the stroller at all times. Adding a pillow for the baby’s head is not recommended, because it could tilt the head forward. Addition of toys and teddy bears is also dangerous, especially for young babies who cannot sit on their own.
Having the baby in a stroller can sometimes be safer and more comfortable for the baby than being held by a parent. However, parents sometimes use the stroller for more than just holding the baby and hang diaper bags and other items on the back handles of the stroller, and this can be dangerous for the baby. One item too many and the baby is likely to be thrown head over heels when the stroller is upended by the weight on the back.
7 Socket Plugs
The plugs used to seal electrical outlets from the baby’s reach are very common. They are thought to be the best way to ensure that the baby does not place his/her fingers or other items inside the socket. However, those plugs are actually not safe at all. First off, they are easily removed. A crawling baby as young as 9 or 10 months old can remove the plug and place it in his/her mouth, creating a choking hazard. Also, children can slip their fingers or a small toy inside a small hole between the cover and the plug, because they are usually not secure enough to stay stationary.
Instead, parents should consider placing retractable plates. There are many models and different designs that work in different ways. Also, parents should consider adapter covers that block the entire plug and cord. Whatever the parents decide to go with, the important factor to look for is that they do not have small parts that can be detached and ingested by the baby and that the cover cannot be removed easily.
6 Baby Wearing
Baby wearing is an ancient practice where the baby is wrapped to the parent’s chest or back while they walk. Today, it is done with modern baby carriers. It is recommended for bonding and makes the parent comfortable that their child is by their side all the time. As protective as it seems, it can be dangerous if not done correctly and with common sense. For instance, it is dangerous to wear a baby while cooking, because this activity places the baby too close to fire and hot objects.
Also, when baby wearing is done the traditional way by wrapping the baby, it is important that the baby is wrapped securely to prevent falls. However, overtight wrapping can cause the baby’s breathing to be restricted. No matter how tight the wrap, actions like bending or exercising with the baby is strictly prohibited. The risk of the baby falling is not eliminated by tight wrapping or the use of secure baby carriers.
5 Travelling With Baby On Lap
A parent putting their baby on their lap in the living room is a fairly safe behavior. It is actually safer than long times in swings or car seats. However, placing a baby on a parent’s lap in an airplane is a different story. Many parents think it is not safe to give a baby who sits up their own seat because the chair is too big, which is kind of true. The alternative is to place the baby in their car seat and strap it securely to the chair.
If there is turbulence, a parent cannot save a baby from flying off their lap and into the air, no matter how tight they hold the baby. In the event of a crash landing, the force by which the plane lands is too much for a baby to handle without protection. A parent must discuss with the airline what the options are, including whether or not they will allow a separate chair with a car seat. In all cases, placing a baby on the parent’s lap should be off the list of possible scenarios.
4 Placing Baby In Big Bed
Some parents place their babies in their own beds at naptime or at night. For safety, they surround the baby with pillows to minimize the risk of falls. In many ways, this behavior is risky. The same pillows that are used to secure the baby can fall on their face, which diminishes available air supply. Also, if a baby is old enough to roll over, they may end up kicking the pillows and falling on the floor.
In older babies who can crawl, a baby might wake up from the nap without crying and silently try to find a way out of the bed. They crawl over the pillows, push them and end up on the floor. This is why adult supervision through a baby monitor is crucial. A baby should not be put to sleep in a place where they can fall, even if the parent is in the same room or nearby.
3 The Rubber Bath Mat/Seat
The hazards of bathing a baby are numerous, but there are measures that can make babies enjoy safe baths. One measure that is used is rubber mats inside bathtubs. In theory, the mat provides an anti-slip surface so the baby doesn’t slip and fall. Some models include a mini “chair” for the baby made out of rubber and with security handles. Practically, most mats are attached by suction cups that are meant to keep the baby in one place.
While a tempting option, they cannot be reliable. A baby can slip even when a rubber mat is placed. Shampoo and soap make it easy for babies to be slippery and increases the risk of accidents. Also, bathtub seats are not to be considered a safety measure. They give parents a false sense of security, because while they look safe, the baby is still actually at risk of slipping and drowning. So, while they provide a modicum of safety and fun for the baby, it is vital that they never be left unattended, even for a second.
2 Treating Cough
Cough is an annoying symptom of lung infections and allergies in babies and there are plenty of old wives tales and grandma remedies. Many parents think that they can use cough syrup or traditional herbal medicine to help the baby sleep and breathe better when the cough is healed. Actually, that is not true. Cough syrups are not safe for babies. The FDA states that even cough syrups marked “pediatric” cannot be used before age 2.
It was reported that convulsions, rapid heart rates and death could result from cough syrups. This is why parents need to stick to the rules. If the cough is the result of a common cold, saline can be used to clear the airways and prevent shortness of breath. If the baby is very congested, it is best to seek the advice of your pediatrician for ways to ease the baby’s breathing. Nasal aspirators and saline solution, and perhaps a humidifier may be all that is needed.
1 Baby Shoes
Of course we need to protect the baby’s feet from harm. As babies begin to walk, mommies get excited to start shoe shopping. For the safety of the little toes, mothers invest in walking shoes to prevent falls and protect toes from hitting edges of furniture. In reality, a baby does not need shoes indoors. Shoes restrain little feet and babies may not actually walk in them easily. Wearing socks indoors is also a hazard because they do not work well with slippery floors.
When buying shoes for outdoor use, parents should buy shoes made of lightweight materials. For example, soles with rubber grips are ideal. They prevent slipping and do not restrict the baby’s movement. If the baby is limping and tripping often, it means the shoe is uncomfortable and instead of keeping the baby safe, it might actually lead to dangerous falls. Walking babies need to be kept away from stairs at all times, regardless the number of stairs or the abilities of the baby.