No parent is perfect. Practically all parents will have a story to tell about an everyday parenting mishap or lapse of judgment. It’s not like we can blame anyone either. While how-to books on parenting abound in bookstores across the country, there is no one book that can tell each parent exactly how to care for their specific kid.
But despite all these parenting boo-boos, the fact is that the vast majority of parents do mean well. And most kids do turn out pretty alright even if their moms and dads have the occasional slipup. This is because, thankfully, parenting mistakes don’t often hurt their children terribly. At the very least, most aren’t harmful enough to kill them.
Or maybe it’s just that most of us just get lucky. It turns out that there are quite a number of routines that involve the baby that are potentially dangerous. Most of us don’t realize them, as they’re fairly common tricks in the parenting arsenal. Besides, the percentage of babies who actually do get harmed from these parenting routines is pretty low, as most parents do catch any dangers before they happen.
Sadly, however, not everyone is lucky. And it’s still pretty worrying that your own child could be one of the, say, two percent of babies who fall victim to a common mistake. As such, it’s important to be informed of potential dangers and address them immediately. Here are fifteen surprisingly deceptive parenting routines that you might want to change and save your baby.
15 The Diaper Change
Whether we like it or not, all parents will have to change their baby’s diapers several times a day. In fact, the parent who hasn’t done so had better have a really good excuse not to. Because diaper changes are just what parents do. However, it happens all so often that many parents forget that there is one potential hazard of changing tables: babies are prone to falling from them.
When a parent has forgotten something, after all, it’s all too easy to leave the baby on the changing table and then reaching or walking over to get something. The changing table may seem like a fairly large surface that the baby can’t possibly roll over in the matter of seconds. Surprisingly, however, it seems that parents underestimate their children. Hundreds of babies have rolled off their changing tables, a handful of cases of which have resulted in serious injury. So trust us when we say that no parent should ever leave their kid on that table, even if for only a split second. And always have everything you need to change a diaper on hand.
Another thing on every baby’s daily agenda is eating. Whether it be from the breast, the bottle or (if the little one is old enough) from the spoon, the little one is going to need to be fed every few hours or so. And to keep everything nice and clean, mom or dad will, of course, need to clean up the dishes. That’s where danger comes in.
See, dishwashing detergent is an alkali. And some detergents are stronger than others, so safety does depend quite a bit on the sort that is used around the house. In addition, some families have fallen in the practice of using other, harsher detergents (such as laundry detergents) for their dishes, just to save money. Unfortunately, however, if detergent residue is not properly washed off the dishes, it can pose a danger to the little one. In small amounts, it can irritate the baby’s mouth and throat. In large amounts, it can cause serious burns that need immediate treatment.
It isn’t just the utensils that can harm the little one, however. Seemingly harmless mealtime goodies can also be bad for the baby. In particular, it’s best to look out for foods that pose a choking hazard to the baby. And, boy, is the list of foods that cause choking very long. Grapes and nuts are common offenders. And, really, basically anything that are just the right size to lodge in the baby’s airway and prevent him from breathing are suspect. It’s therefore best to cut the food into baby-friendly pieces.
But not all airway offenders have to be nice and solid. That innocent-looking jar of peanut butter that the toddler likes to shove into his mouth by the spoonful can also be a danger. If there is enough of it in the little one’s throat, it can stick and cause a blockage. Since these choking hazards are all too common, every parent might as well learn basic first aid for kids.
12 Bath Time
Bath time poses one very obvious danger to the little one: drowning. But since giving the little one a bath is so common, it can be easy to overlook this hazard in the grind of everyday life. Even worse, some parents use bath seats or rings, swayed by the false security these “protective” devices give them. But, news flash: these items won’t necessarily keep the baby safe. Sometimes the suction cups can loosen if the baby is moving too much, causing the entire thing to tip over, baby and all. And there’s always the possibility that the little one will climb over it.
In addition, there is a possibility that the child may slip through the leg holes and get stuck down there. In many cases, the end result is tragedy. It’s therefore best for all parents to follow one simple bit of advice: never leave the baby alone in the bath.
11 Oiling Up
After a diaper change or a bath, many parents like applying baby oil or petroleum jelly to their little one’s skin to keep it moisturized and rash-free. After all, oil can act as a barrier that works two ways: it prevents irritants from coming in contact with the skin and it keeps moisture from the skin from getting lost via evaporation. But make sure to check what, exactly, the oil is made out of.
Mineral oil and petroleum jelly are both products derived from petroleum. If not refined well enough, they can contain harmful chemicals that can cause irritation or, in the long term, even cancer. But even if mom chooses a mineral oil brand from a reputable source, the barrier that the oil itself creates is so tight, almost like plastic, that it can no longer absorb moisture from the environment. It’s therefore better to choose baby oils or creams that are plant-based and easier on the little one’s skin.
Let’s face it: parenting is tough work. And sometimes every parent just needs a break from it all. Enter the babysitter. Great for date nights or working overtime, for quick runs to the grocery or long meetings. It can be a lifesaver to have someone to look after the little one while the parents have to do the things that they need to do. Only, it is, of course, best to screen babysitters very well.
After all, every parent needs to know that they can trust the babysitter with their lives, and perhaps even more than that. Sadly, however, not all of us are very good judges of character. Sometimes a harmless-looking teenager might hit the little one in a moment of impatience when the parents are not around. It’s therefore best to look out for warning signs that the babysitter might be hurting the baby or even exposing him to danger.
9 House Time
It may sound crazy but sometimes spending extended periods of time inside the house can be dangerous for the little one. Don’t be alarmed yet, however, as this is only for a very specific – and extremely preventable – situation. This is especially if there are any appliances in the house that run on fuel, or if there is a connection between the garage’s ventilation and that of the house’s.
Carbon monoxide is produced by the partial oxidation of fuel, particularly when there isn’t enough oxygen to go around for the relatively safer carbon dioxide to be produced. Unfortunately, carbon monoxide binds to the red blood cells, taking up the space that oxygen is supposed to attach to during respiration. This causes the body to basically suffocate as it takes in biologically useless carbon monoxide instead of oxygen. It is therefore best for the discerning parent to install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and keep them well-maintained to make sure that the little one’s time at home doesn’t become deadly.
8 Playing With Pets
Many families claim that their pet is just wonderful with babies. Fair enough, as pets often become members of the family in their own right. And, naturally, the little one will be interacting with them on a fairly regular basis. But be warned: no matter how patient Max and Molly are, they are still animals. And little babies can’t quite read the cues that an animal isn’t in the mood to be touched. Sometimes all he can see is a cute, fluffy creature that is just waiting for a really, really tight hug. Which is occasionally a bad idea.
This doesn’t mean every parent has to go drop the animals off to the shelter right now, though. It’s just important to never leave the little ones alone with the pets, no matter how busy it gets. Keep the little one in his own room, which should be pet-free. Or, if mom wants to keep the eye on the baby, just place a crib or playpen within eyesight, in a place inaccessible to the pets.
7 Sleeping On The Sofa
Sometimes when mom or dad is exhausted from a hard day’s work and the little one is screaming for a pre-naptime cuddle, it can be tempting to just pick the baby up and let him sleep with the parent on the couch. Alternatively, the parent might place the sleeping baby on the couch while doing chores. But this poses a huge danger. Couches typically have plenty of little nooks and crannies that the baby can easily slip in accidentally. In some cases, the baby might get injured before the parent notices what has happened.
But couches have another fatal flaw: they’re soft. As such, if the baby’s head manages to slip in, it’s likely that he will suffocate as the soft cushions bar his nose and mouth. As such, it’s never a good idea to put the baby on the couch, whether with the parent or not. After all, a sleeping parent sometimes will not notice that the baby has slipped out of his or her hands.
When the baby is crying for no apparent reason at all, so loud that the whole block can hear, sometimes a pacifier is just the thing to bring peace to the neighborhood once more. As such, they’re a common tool in the average parent’s arsenal of baby solutions. However, it’s important to remember that there are several ways in which pacifiers can be dangerous.
First of all, pacifiers that are worn are prone to tearing. These can be a choking hazard if the baby tries to swallow the piece and it, instead, gets stuck in the baby’s airway. In addition, some pacifiers have straps that allow the parent to attach them to the little one’s neck. Another bad idea as this is a strangulation hazard. If a pacifier must be used, make sure it’s string-free. Lastly, pacifiers that become contaminated after falling on the floor or are just not cleaned often enough can introduce harmful microorganisms into the baby’s body, causing illness.
Many parents still mistakenly believe that walkers can help their babies learn to walk. But the fact is that they’re actually quite terrible at that. And given that it’s also a major safety hazard, we’re pretty confident in saying that it’s just a really bad idea to get a baby one. Babies in walkers are prone to stumbling over toys on the ground. They’re also more likely to fall down the stairs or accidentally walk into the pool. In addition, babies in walkers have a very high reach. As such, items in the house that have been baby-proofed by keeping them as far as possible from the little one’s prying hands are now fair game.
Finally, babies who use walkers don’t feel the need to do the actions that lead up to actual walking. They do, after all, have to learn to stand up on their own before taking their first step. If they do not develop the muscles that help them stand, walking on their own becomes harder.
4 Pillows In The Crib
It’s generally a bad idea to leave pillows – or anything soft, for that matter – on the baby’s crib. In fact, the mattress for the little one’s crib should be firm and not fluffy. This is because soft items increase the baby’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. Scientists believe this is because if the baby manages to get on his belly and then become face down on the soft surface, it suffocates him. Much like the couch scenario we talked about earlier. This is especially for babies who have not yet developed strength in their neck muscles and are unable to turn their heads properly or lift them off the mattress.
But this isn’t the only hazard that pillows pose. For babies that can already stand up with support, the pillows provide a bit of leverage for climbing off the crib. And given that the top of the railings of baby’s crib is likely to be quite a long way from the floor, the falling hazard is real.
3 Home Alone
When the parent needs to attend to urgent matters outside of the house, especially if it’s an errand that only takes a few minutes, it can be tempting to leave the baby home alone. Generally, however, it’s always a bad idea to leave a baby alone in the house. Because it may seem that baby’s don’t do all that much. But it can be surprising what they can accomplish when the parents’ eyes are averted for a split second. Don’t deny this isn’t true. The little one may fall out of the crib, climb on things, pull at the curtain or touch an electric outlet while mom and dad are away.
And even kids who can’t yet crawl nor walk may also be in danger. Any number of unpredictable events are possible while while the parents are too far away to rescue him. This can range from a house fire to an earthquake toppling a bookcase over the baby, from carbon monoxide poisoning to suffocation.
2 Sleeping On The Bed
Parents need to work and care for the baby and deal with the household chores. It’s no wonder that they’re often exhausted at the end of the day. Sometimes the parent might, at night, wake up for the nth time to a hungry baby and then decide to just let the little one sleep on the adult bed so that there will be minimal night-time interruption. This, however, isn’t a great idea if the parents haven’t planned out co-sleeping very well.
For one thing, parents that are way too tired are at risk of rolling over the baby and smothering him. In addition, if the baby is on one edge of the bed, he’s also at risk of falling off of it. Don’t get us wrong: co-sleeping can be safe and even healthy if the proper precautions are made. If this isn’t a routine, however, perhaps it’s just better off for the parents to temporarily move the baby’s crib into their own room.
1 After Drinks
We certainly wouldn’t deny the hard-working parent a glass of wine or two to get through the struggle of parenting. In fact, we don’t blame them at all! It is problematic, however, if the parent goes overboard and takes in way too much alcohol and then cares for the little one. After all, we don’t need to tell you that the drunker someone is, the bigger their chance of making very bad decisions. The consequences of these bad decisions can be exponential if there’s a baby involved. In addition, alcohol can find its way into breastmilk so breastfeeding moms may find themselves with a drunk baby.
As such, it’s always best that at least one parent is sober, or perhaps if the grandparents are at least over to care for the baby just in case neither parent is. Better yet, it’s best for parents to just be aware of their own limits when it comes to alcohol and then avoid getting drunk in the first place.