More than three million babies are born each year in the United States, according to 2013 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, of these infants, more than 23,000 died that same year. While some die of birth defects and complications related to pregnancy, others suffer injuries that are totally preventable. September is Baby Safety Month, which is a perfect opportunity to learn how to reduce the chances of harm to your babies.
What are safety hazards for baby? Here, experts discuss five dangers leading to injuries and death in infants.
Suffocation from sleep-related causes
The first 12 months of a baby’s life are critical as the baby develops and builds the strength to roll over, says Safe Kids Michigan coordinator Laura Rowen.
Dr. Marcus DeGraw, a pediatrician at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit says five to 10 babies die each month because of sleep-related suffocation in Michigan. Rowen adds the number of children that pass away from any type of suffocation increased from 75 to 82 deaths between 2011 and 2013.
Adding toys and blankets in a crib allows the baby to wrap around them without a chance of breaking free.
Parents also run the risk of suffocating the child if in the same bed. To prevent this incident, Dr. Bridget McArdle of Henry Ford Health System in Sterling Heights says remove all items from the crib. Lay the baby on his or her back. If the baby rolls over, he or she is not in danger when the bed is free of objects.
Motor vehicle crashes and car seats
You drive on the road with your 9-month-old son in the back seat. Suddenly a driver in front hits her brakes and you slam into her. You’re fine but is your baby? Driving at 60 miles per hour, you would hope so. Did you check to make sure the car seat was secure? Did you make sure the baby was properly strapped in? Parents at times often forget to check one of the two, McArdle says.
Safe Kids Worldwide notes that children should remain in a car seat until they are 4-feet 9-inches tall. They are less likely to be injured in a crash by 45 percent. Tips to parents and guardians: Take the baby out of his the coat so the straps are tighter and are secure. If it’s cold outside, heat the car before putting the baby in. Babies should face the rear until they are 2 years old, DeGraw says.
“Have boosters and car seats even if it embarrasses (children),” McArdle says. She adds mothers in Oakland County can get assistance on purchasing a car seat if they have WIC. Check with your county to see if assistance is offered near you.
In addition, Safe Kids Worldwide offers a car seat checklist to help ensure the child is safe.
“Drowning is a silent and deadly process,” Rowen says. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says drowning occurs in places other than pools. It happens in bathtubs, buckets, toilets and hot tubs. An area full of water is danger without supervision. It is one of the biggest risks to children under 2 years old, McArdle says.
Leaving a baby unattended for five seconds is more than enough time for an accident to happen, DeGraw says. Stay with the child at all times. If you are not watching the baby, have someone you trust watch him or her.
“Don’t get caught on your tablet,” Rowen says. “You have to be with that baby the entire time.”
A baby cries every three hours, DeGraw says. They cry when nothing is wrong. Among finances, home situations and jobs, parents and guardians have stressful days with a baby adding to the chaos. Two out of every 100,000 children die from child abuse nationally, he adds. “Most of the things parents don’t consider a top hazard, really are,” he says. “Child abuse is one of them.”
Feeling overwhelmed? DeGraw advises parents and guardians to place the infant carefully in the crib, go into their room and lock themselves in for 20 minutes. Scream and cry if it helps. Take the child to a friend or relative’s house if you want to be alone. “(Child abuse) leads to suicide,” he says.
Every baby learns to talk and walk. Depending on the infant, he or she begins walking around 9 to 12 months. Safe Kids Worldwide notes that over that past 10 years, there has been a 31 percent increase in TV tip-over related injuries. Seven out of 10 of those injured kids are 5 years old or younger. Do not put heavy flat screens on dressers. Mount the TV to the wall instead.
Without the supervision and safety precautions such as securing drawers, babies grab anything for support.
Parents should buy baby gates appropriate for the area. A gate to block a leveled walkway may not be safe for blocking the stairs, Rowen says. Colors attract babies, McArdle adds, so keep it neutral.
When putting away toys, put them in places that cannot be visible. Placing a toy on a table is more dangerous than putting it in a closed bin or cabinet.
“Never walk away from your child in an unsafe place,” McArdle adds.
Have any additional tips for avoiding these hazards? Tell us in the comments below.
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This post was originally published in 2015 and is updated regularly.