Taking care of babies is a truly tedious mission. There is a lot to do and a lot more to watch out for. Babies are sensitive, fragile creatures, but they are also needy and demanding. They are capable of keeping even the most attentive of adults busy all the time. From the repetitive tasks of feeding and changing to the more various ones concerning play and daycare, the line between safe and unsafe might not be that crystal clear to many parents.
Of course, every parent in the world is doing their absolute best for their children since day one. However, some slip ups happen due to old beliefs, laziness, ignorance, or lack of attention. Whatever the reason, it is possible that some hidden dangers arise from behaviors integrated in the everyday lives of the baby and its parents.
Unsolicited advice is not only unwelcome, but sometimes contradicting. When a parent hears something from another parent that opposes what the doctor said, it is a no-brainer to give attention to the words coming from the most credible person. New parents are especially susceptible to making mistakes due to their lack of experience and inability to determine who is the most reliable people that they should listen to. The negative effects that come with some acts can be hidden at first, and gradually begin showing as the baby gets older. To prevent this from happening, we list 15 things parents do every day that pose risks to the baby’s wellbeing and the explanation for each of them.
15 Skipping Breakfast
It is not likely for a parent to skip breakfast for a baby, but sometimes it happens against their will. Most parents start the day with giving the baby milk through breastfeeding or formula, then move on to breakfast about 1.5-2 hours later. Sometimes the baby has no appetite in the morning. This is because the milk is more filling to them than it is to adults. No wonder a mother can dig into a stack of pancakes so soon after her latte, but struggles to get her baby to eat any cereal long after the bottle. It is tempting not to struggle with meals and just let them go hungry till lunch.
Another way this happens is in daycare. Some daycare centers have schedules for the babies and encourage mothers to arrive on time. If a baby takes milk in the morning and arrives after breakfast time, it is likely that the baby will not be offered food until lunch. Skipping breakfast will result in a cranky, hungry baby before lunchtime and will take away from the baby’s nutrition for the day.
14 Heavy Dinner
Some parents follow the advice that babies need to be full before bed so they can sleep well, which is sound. However, taking things too far by overfeeding the baby at night is anything but healthy. Eating heavy meals or too much food before bed can actually slow down digestion and upset the stomach. Some babies do not even stomach the heavy dinners and wake up to throw up at night.
A good idea is to feed the baby cereal around 2 hours before bedtime and milk right before bed. If the baby is older, fruits are a good choice, especially bananas. If the baby got a balanced meal of carbohydrates and protein and vegetables during the family dinner, they won’t need a lot of food at night. Yogurt is also a healthy choice for the night, as long as it is free of colors and sweeteners. Parents should also consider what the baby ate throughout the day and any factors that could be affecting the baby’s appetite.
13 Extra Time At Daycare
Some mothers leave their kid at daycare to work or to attend to other children and errands. In both cases, selecting a good daycare center is a must. In many daycare centers, the closing time is around 3-4 PM. After that, the kids are left alone with nannies, but with no teachers or activities.
Working mothers are forced to leave their kids up to the time they finish work. However, those who work part-time or from home should not misuse the option. If a mother leaves her kid every day at daycare, they will likely end up watching a lot of television or be minimally supervised, instead of being entertained and thoroughly watched as they would when teachers and all other staff members are on duty. More importantly, medical care in the form of a doctor may not be available after closing time, so there will be no one to react in case of emergencies.
12 Car Rides
Car rides are generally safe as long as the proper guidelines are followed. A secure car seat is not negotiable when transporting babies from one place to another. Yet, many parents insist it is OK for the baby to sit on the lap of whoever is not driving the car. This is particularly true for parents whose babies can sit up or crawl, because their backs are strong enough to sit up unassisted.
This is, of course, very risky. Even if the person holding the baby is sitting at the back of the car, the risks are not minimized. In the event of a crash, the baby is at risk of being hit almost immediately. Even the mildest of accidents can cause the baby harm, even if the adults are safe, because the baby is in a vulnerable position. Also, babies can kick or pull gears which essentially changes how the car moves!
Heaters are a necessity in winter, especially for cold climates. While some people are able to switch settings to make their AC go warm, others use heaters. The risk of heaters is that babies are able to touch them and this can burn their tiny fingers. When there is light or sound in the heater, the baby is drawn to it and starts exploring, which never ends well! Heaters must be kept away from babies or switched off until they go to bed.
There is a risk of sudden switching between cold and warm environments. To prevent babies from getting sick, it is a must to shut down the heater a long time before leaving the house. This gives the baby’s body a chance to adjust, and after wearing the proper clothes, it is perfectly safe to leave the house. Heaters must also be switched off before bed to prevent rooms from overheating and interfering with the baby’s breathing.
10 The High Chair
The high chair is used for every mealtime since the baby starts eating solids. It is dubbed one of the top necessities when shopping for baby gear. Many parents ignore wrapping the baby up in the designated belts, considering that they will be there for the entire meal and will not allow the baby to fall. This is considered risky because one cannot watch the baby every single second.
Babies grow up faster than we think. One day the baby is sitting up on its own, the next it is trying to climb up the high chair to reach for its favorite toy. Not securing the baby in the chair places the baby at risks for falls that cause major injuries. Also, if the parents leave for even a few minutes to get more food or wash a plate, the baby can start moving and it is possible that it gets hurt.
9 Laundry Time
Laundry is no fun, but it has to be done anyway. It is even less fun with a baby tagging along. The bad news is, it is dangerous for the baby, as well. In the laundry room, the baby is exposed to chemicals. A spilled liquid detergent or some powder detergent that casually falls as the parent uses it is not to be taken lightly.
A baby can reach and see things that are too small for adults to notice. This could lead to them eating laundry detergent off the floor. The chemicals can be anywhere from harmful to toxic and deadly. Also, babies are fascinated with the big shiny bright thing that produces light and sound, AKA the washing machine. They could hurt themselves by electricity if they touch cords or exposed buttons. In more tragic incidences, the babies manage to climb and fall inside the machine, causing major injuries or death if it accidentally operates.
8 Nap Anywhere!
The baby’s nap time. Need I say more? It is the most sacred time of the day. Mothers pretty much plan their entire days around nap time. It is important to maintain the nap time routine to prevent the baby from getting cranky. A well-rested baby is able to play and eat well. No wonder mothers will do anything to keep the babies’ nap uninterrupted.
However, napping on the couch or in the swing can have unwanted consequences. The swing is set for upright playtime in older babies, and no baby should be left to sleep in this position. It can cause neck and back pain for the babies. The couch is even more hazardous, considering how the baby could fall off the couch at the least of movements. Even newborn babies who cannot roll over must not be left at this dangerous position, no matter how tempting it is to leave them asleep.
7 Nighttime Diaper
Similar to how parents would let the baby nap anywhere so they can get some peace or some things done, it is also possible that they prefer the sleep to the diaper change. If a baby falls asleep before the bedtime diaper change, some parents decide to change in the morning and let them continue to sleep instead. Obviously, this can cause diaper rash. No matter how tiring it is to put a baby to bed, no baby should go to bed with a diaper that been worn for hours. The bacteria in the diaper can even cause urinary tract infections.
Newborn babies are not able to distinguish night from day, and end up pooping in their sleep. Older babies naturally have no bowel movement control, but they have to be awake to poop. If a baby poops and sleeps all night with the poopy diaper, it can cause horrible infections and diaper rash that is not so easy to treat. If the baby shows signs of sleepiness, the parents should change the diaper immediately.
6 Delaying Teeth Brushing
The joy of seeing the first pebble pop inside the baby’s mouth is amazing. Just like all baby milestones, it makes a parent see that the baby is growing up and gives a feeling of satisfaction. However, some parents neglect that small teeth need as much attention as big teeth. It is also advisable to start brushing as early as possible, as soon as the first tooth starts showing. Toothpaste can be withheld till age 2, but brushing is not to be skipped.
For babies who teeth before the 6-month mark, parents think it is OK not to brush because the baby is not any eating solid food yet. This is medically not true at all. Milk contains sugars and carbohydrates that transform into acids in the mouth and eradicate the tooth enamel. Similarly, if the last meal a baby has before bed is milk, that does not mean the teeth are fine. Babies who eat solids can have food particles lodged in their teeth and that could lead to decay if not removed by brushing.
5 Unattended Play
A baby who can play on its own actually has a very valuable life skill. Needy babies who need 24-hour attention from their parents are annoying and not able to depend on themselves. On the other side, it is not a license for parents to go around the house ignoring the fact that there is a baby in it. Not having to take your baby to the bathroom is one thing, but sticking to a long chore without checking on it is a different story.
Many parents attempt excessive baby proofing measures so they can be at peace that their kid is always safe. While true, it does not make up for adult supervision. Knowing the baby is in a safe place makes it easy to prepare meals, watch TV, do laundry, or help older kids with homework without feeling worried. The occasional check on the baby is still a must in case it gets into trouble. One never knows what small objects could be lying around, or what a silent baby might be secretly up to.
4 TV Time
A part of unwinding after a long day is watching TV with the family. Parents prefer to keep the baby with them to make sure it is safe. While babies do not understand what is happening on the screen, they are still entertained by the sound and light it produces. On the negative side, prolonged every day exposure to a television screen is neither good for the baby’s eyes or brain development.
Older siblings may be fond of cartoons, but there is little connection between what is on the screen and how the baby reacts. At such a young age, it is important for parents to know that because they blocked the violent and inappropriate programs, the kids will be fine. Older children might benefit from educational programs, but babies are harmed by the overstimulating screen for a long time. Limits must be set for the time a baby sits in front of a screen, even when the parents are.
3 Watch Me Cook
A mother might be tempted to follow a “laundry day” approach to washing clothes, so she washes clothes weekly. The same can be said for some of the cleaning tasks around the house. Nevertheless, there is no escape from the daily cooking task. After all, the family needs food every day, doesn’t it?
The kitchen is no place for a baby. With the heat from ovens and stoves, it is possible that the baby gets a burn. Some mothers insist that they wear their baby to the kitchen so it can stay supervised while they cook. This is very unsafe because babies can accidentally touch hot pots or pans, hot oil can splash on their arms, or an entire kitchen appliance can explode. Serious injury could result. This is why parents must forgo this routine and make sure babies are safe nearby while they cook, but not let them in the kitchen, and definitely not wear them near hot objects.
After dinner, some parents like a daily dessert. Whether homemade or store-bought, it is one of the few indulgences parents of small children are actually able to enjoy. The baby’s curiosity may lead to it trying to discover what is on mommy’s plate and ask for a taste. Some parents think a small bite is fine, which is controversial. However, if the occasional treat becomes an everyday thing, it becomes a health issue.
Sugar before age 1 is not recommended at all because it has several unwanted consequences. First, it elevates the risk of tooth decay and cavities. Second, it could suppress the baby’s immunity. Third, a high-sugar diet can put the baby at a greater risk for future obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, parents who have a sweet tooth must be aware of the dangers and avoid giving sugar to babies at such a high rate. It is likely that a baby who tastes sugar will want more, so skipping it altogether seems like the most suitable solution.
Babies do not smoke of course, but they are not spared the second- or third-hand smoke if one of the parents smoke. The toxins in cigarette smoke not only result in long-term problems, including cancer and lung diseases, but also can cause short-term problems such as asthma and allergies. They also worsen common colds and treatable respiratory tract infections and could cause complications. Cigarette smoke also makes babies more prone to ear infections.
Particles in cigarette smoke stick to everything in the house, including toys, clothes and furniture. This is known as third-hand smoke. Also, the smoking parent may smoke in another room, but when they come to hold the baby, all those particles are stuck on their clothing and it is possible for the baby to breathe them in. To protect babies, parents must smoke outside the home and make sure they wash their hands and faces and change their clothes before holding the baby.