From the August 2018 issue

Common Baby Safety Mistakes Parents Make

An expert from the Kohl's Safe 4 Kids Program at Children's Hospital of Michigan offers advice on avoiding these safety mishaps.

From the moment a baby is born, safety is a top priority. But even with the best intentions, parents can make mistakes that lead to serious consequences for their babies.

Here, Joann Moss, an injury prevention education coordinator with the Kohl’s Safe 4 Kids Program at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, offers advice on car seats, household hazards, safe sleep and sink burns.

Car Seats

Families spend a lot of time commuting by car, but is baby safe during the ride? Oftentimes, the answer is no. Improper installation, such as using both the car’s seat belt and anchoring systems, puts double the stress on a car seat.

“One system is really sufficient, if you’re using it correctly,” Moss says.

Refer to your car’s owner’s manual for installation information.

Facing-forward too early, and using the incorrect seat for a child’s age, weight and height are big no-nos. Children need to be rear-facing until they are 2 years old, or as long as the rear-facing seat accommodates their weight and height.

Avoid aftermarket products, too, since they haven’t been tested for crash safety.

The Kohl’s Safe 4 Kids Program is hosting a car seat check from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Sept. 29 at AAA of Michigan in Dearborn. “We check to see if the child is in the correct car seat for the child’s weight and height,” Moss says.

Household Hazards

Think your medicine bottles are child-proof? Think again.

“It’s child resistant, and there’s a difference between resistance and proof,” Moss says. “It will slow kids down but it’s definitely not child-proof.”

Keep bottles out of sight and reach. The same goes for makeup, ointment, hand sanitizer and diaper cream, which can also be poisonous.

Laundry Pods should also be out of reach because they can cause serious chemical burns and eye injuries.

Button batteries, which are common in toys, have severe consequences if swallowed. “We suggest you still put a piece of duct tape over the access door,” she says.

And when it comes to furniture and appliances, always use anti-tip kits. Anything top-heavy should be mounted, she adds.

Safe Sleep

It’s as simple as A-B-C: Babies should sleep alone, on their back and in their own crib. Don’t co-sleep or allow an animal to sleep with your baby. Don’t leave them sleeping in a swing, rocker or car seat where they are upright. “Flat on their back is where it’s at,” Moss says.

Avoid over-bundling your baby, as it can cause overheating.

“What we don’t understand about babies is that a baby’s internal body temperature rises three to five times faster than adults,” she says. “Overheating increases the risk of them possibly dying of SIDS.”

And while family may try to offer advice, Moss says only one opinion matters.

“In my teaching of safe sleep, I always caution parents to take their advice from their pediatrician versus from family and friends because a lot of times family and friends, although they mean well, can do a lot of harm by giving recommendations that are not based on current research.”

Sink Burns

“The No. 1 thing that needs to be done to prevent scald burns is to turn the hot water tank down,” she says. The water heater should not be higher than 120 degrees. “Our body temp is in the area of 98.6 degrees,” she says, “so if you have 120 degrees, that is way higher than your body temperature so that is more than high enough to get your body clean.”

Use your forearm to test the water temperature before putting your baby in the tub. Use tubs designed to bathe babies instead of the kitchen or bathroom sink to avoid injury.

It only takes a couple seconds for baby to get hurt, so he needs constant supervision. “We recommend that you don’t take your phone into the bathroom because you need to keep your eyes on baby at all times.”

For more information about Children’s Hospital of Michigan, visit childrensdmc.org.

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